Gourmet cooking is to the chef what haute couture is to the fashion designer. It is an opportunity for the seasoned chef to show off his or her skills and creativity with ingredient selection, combination, preparation and presentation.
Due to the expensive, exquisite and sometimes rare ingredients involved, it is usually reserved for fine dining occasions. However, for fine dining establishments in five-star hotels and caterers of VIP functions, gourmet cuisine can be a regular undertaking of a chef and the culinary team. Needless to say, with the meticulously prepared meals created, the presentation is also carefully considered. The best china, glassware, silverware and service are brought out complemented by crisp table linens, napkins elegantly folded and a beautiful centrepiece of fresh flowers.
Gourmet cookery though utilizing fancy ingredients can also feature the simplest of meats, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables. With these “humbler” ingredients, highlight the freshness of the product and plate it extra special with thoughtful garnishes like edible flowers of a vegetable carving. In ingredient selection, some cuts of meat or variety of poultry lend themselves better to gourmet preparations due to their marbling and uncommonness. These include prime rib, lamb chops, duck, quail which simply seasoned and grilled truly can be a delectable dish. On the other hand, pork chops and regular chicken can likewise be transformed into something memorable by combining with fine ingredients like red and white wine, porcini mushrooms, exquisite truffles and saffron.
Nowadays with healthy eating gaining more and more popularity, even gourmet cooking has greatly been influenced with the creation of menus that address not only the pleasure of the palate but the welfare of the body.
Though the traditional chef will still use fresh cream, butter and olive oil in preparing dishes, concerned that the flavor and texture are compromised, there’s a new breed that are open to using healthier ingredients like skim milk and lower fat versions of dairy products. For the health concerned home cook, simple ingredient substitutions can be made to increase the fiber content and lower the fat content of dishes.
Regardless of the menu prepared, healthy or decadent, gourmet cooking frowns on shortcuts in steps and instant ingredients. You’ll hardly see a main dish prepared using a microwave or a dessert from an instant mix. The length of time needed to prepare a dish also varies and can range from minutes to several hours. An example is foie gras, cooked in a matter of minutes and served on a bed of garden greens and a stew that takes several hours to tenderise the meat and marry the flavors together.
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