This is the sixteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.
As Eatocracy's editors, we're (that's Kat Kinsman and Sarah LeTrent) lucky enough to get to travel and eat all over the country, both for work and because it's what we love to do. We've seen some trends popping up in restaurants from coast to coast, and in 2014, here are a few we think stand a chance of catching on in more home and restaurant kitchens across the country.
1. Fish collars, heads and trash fish
Heads and collars, which are the section of flesh and pectoral fins behind the gills (pictured at Peche restaurant above), are bubbling up on menus from New Orleans to Nashville to Atlanta and beyond. Once mainly the provenance of sushi chefs, this easily-crisped section of fish is catching on with diners weary of belly and sides. Heads - especially the sumptuous cheek meat and the full-bodied stock they produce - are a must in many Hunan dishes, Malaysian curries and traditional Gullah recipes that are in the midst of a much-deserved renaissance.
And you can't catch the big seafood stars (like cod, shrimp and salmon) without snagging some tagalongs with them. Eco- and budget-conscious eaters are discovering the virtues of varieties like triggerfish, porgy, drum, wolf eel and sand dabs, which would previously have been tossed back, discarded, ground into organic soil amendment or turned into fish sauce. Not only does this give overfished breeds a breather, getting diners comfortable with a more diverse range of options helps ensure a tastier tomorrow for everyone.
2. Heirloom beans, peanuts and field peas
And bonus: chefs and home cooks are rapidly discovering that heirloom legumes grow like gangbusters in many different climates and soil types, are GMO-free (a selling point for an increasingly conscientious dining public), dry gorgeously for use throughout the year and are an excellent alternative to pricey and potentially dubiously-raised meat.
3. Haute Jewish deli
Gone are the kitschy, signed, celebrity photos and overstuffed novelty sandwiches of the old days. Simply-presented, artfully smoked fish, lavishly peppered pastrami, crafty poutine, amped-up chicken liver and deeply deckled corned beef are the focus of this new deli vanguard - and also popping up on non-deli menus across the country. Perhaps it's the inevitable evolution of the house-made charcuterie frenzy. Maybe it's a collective need for a nostalgic nosh. Whatever the impetus, it sure is appetizing.
4. Indie printing
In 2011, former Saveur magazine staffers Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton skirted the system by self-publishing the first volume of their studio's recipes, "Canal House Cooking," to tremendous fanfare (they're now on Volume Eight). In 2013, a small group of food industry veterans began a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to produce the "Short Stack Editions" series of single-subject, hand-bound cookbooks with a guaranteed payment for each author. The campaign finished out at $92,672, and a second batch of six is underway.
At the same time, "Brother" launched as a self-printed zine, helmed by Atlanta chef Ryan Smith and cohorts, and born out of a desire to share an unflinching view of where our food comes from - chicken guts and all. Across town, chef Linton Hopkins and Holeman and Finch bartender/partner, Greg Best, printed two Thomas Payne-meets-punk-rock "Feed Publishing Serial" on the topics "Seven Drinks by a Barkeep" and "Mayonnaise by a Chef."
Best has since left H&F, but the free pamphlets have made it into the hands of an awful lot of chefs, food writers and fans who may just see the writing on the wall. In 2014, the food revolution will not be (totally) digitized.
5. Reconsidered rice
Honorable mentions: Grapes in savory entrees and more muscadine desserts and drinks, exciting cauliflower sides, non-cabbage kimchi, cake slices in restaurants, beer brewed in-house at restaurants, chicken-fried rabbit and whole small birds like quail and squab. And goodness, will I be happy if I never taste stevia again in my lifetime.
1. Raw beef
The classic version of the bistro mainstay includes finely chopped beef, capers, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with a raw egg yolk garnish to stir in for creaminess. Spins on the classic sub in rose veal, homemade pickled vegetables and confit duck or quail egg yolks.
Expect restaurants to also beef up their carpaccio fanfare, a dish named after Italian Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio's signature red and white hues reminiscent of marbled meat. Paper-thin beef will become an edible canvas for peppery greens, nutty cheese shavings and more in 2014.
2. Eating with your hands
The trend is twofold with the emergence of haute finger foods like fried chicken, small fish and burgers. The best part? Servers are often trained to instruct diners to use their hands so they aren't left anxiously waiting to see what their date does first.
3. Housemade hot sauces
Chefs and pastry chefs alike will embrace the tiered presentation as a way to ensure the perfect spoonful. It’s essentially a way to deconstruct a dish without the molecular fuss, and zero in on complimentary flavors, temperatures, colors and textures.
Parfait: To me, you are perfect.
5. Breakfast for dinner
Honorable mentions: In-house bread and butter programs, rotisserie chickens, self-service kegs while you wait for a table, candied vegetables, country ham. A girl can also dream about the demise of the communal table.
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