One of the pervasive crazes to hit menus high—and low—is the tempation for chefs to "deconstruct" dishes. That’s right, they spent all these years putting together great combos, and now they are tearing them apart.
Azul, the uber-chic restaurant at Miami’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, recently featured a version of the deconstruction trend at a champagne tasting dinner held to showcase Pommery champagnes. Chef Clay Conley deconstructed one of the lowliest menu items, clam chowder, and in doing so, raised it to some pretty lofty heights. Take the traditional components of the dish: sautéed onion, a touch of bacon for some smoky flavor, clams and a creamy stock base. Conley presents diners with a long plate and three components: perfectly fried clams with a creamy remoulade sauce, a rasher of crispy, smoky-sweet pork belly (a real indulgence in these South Beach Diet days) and a mini copper pot of creamy clam broth garnished with one simple, sweet littleneck clam.
Of course, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same. It doesn’t have to be a complex dish, and you don’t have to use hard-to-find ingredients. Why would you want to? First, if you're like us you're looking for any way to pep up your boring weeknight-meal routine. But second, deconstruction's a fun way to offer up the same tastes of favorite recipes, while adding a new twist.
Here are two dishes you can deconstruct easily—and impress your friends with your food-forward trends:
Lasagna: Have cooked lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, red sauce and Parmesan on hand (if no one objects to meat, cook off some Italian sausage, too). For each serving, loosely place a hot noodle in a pasta bowl with a dollop of ricotta, a generous sprinkle of mozzarella and sausage, if you’re using it. Top all with a ladle-full of hot red sauce, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and finish it under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling. Serve with more Parmesan, a salad of mixed baby greens and a crusty loaf of bread for a full dinner.
Potpie: This is a simple way to use up leftover roast chicken. Pull all the meat from the bones and shred it. Heat up gravy (yes, from a jar if you don’t have from scratch). Stir in frozen peas and carrots and some fresh herbs (basil, parsley and a touch of sage). While that is heating, bake some biscuits (from scratch or use refrigerator biscuits). To serve, spoon shredded chicken into a bowl, top with hot gravy and finish all with hot biscuits.
Go forth. Deconstruct!