The holidays are just around the corner and with it comes new demands for seasonal cuisine. Winter is a time for rich flavors and cozy textures. If you’ve ever had a thick stew that is equivalent to being wrapped up in a woolen sweater, you know the power of comfort food in the winter. Cold temperatures means that your meals have to stoke the proverbial hearth for people and make them feel good from the inside out.
Here are a few seasonal food trends that will have your menu in shape for the winter months ahead.
There’s no reason your old favorites can’t make a fresh appearance on your winter menus. All it takes is a bit of creativity and a handful of seasonal ingredients to make it feel just right.
“We change up the preparation style and sauce just a bit to make the change to winter months,” shares Adam Gooch of Common Plea Catering. “For example, our Summer Seared Pierre Chicken Break with lemon and herbs becomes our Coq au Vin Braised Chicken for the winter months. This dish is a great warming and comforting dish with rich wine and hearty mushrooms.”
Consider bringing in wintry elements, like cranberries, vanilla bean, and cinnamon, along with hearty ingredients, like root vegetables and squashes, for an unbeatable combo.
Cosmos and lemon drops are classic summer cocktails, but they don’t really have a place in the winter bar menu. Instead, incorporate mixed drinks that are cozy and warm — not only will the warm the belly, but they also keep guests’ hands toasty.
“You can’t go wrong with a spiked cider or cocoa bar at a winter celebration,” muses Meryl Snow of SnowStorm Solutions. “Mulled wine is a popular choice, too. Have a bartender serve the alcohol and let the guests play around with different additions — candy canes, cinnamon sticks, graham cracker crunch, and so on.”
Next time you’re out for dinner, take a peek at the cocktail menu for inspiration and try your hand with some new combinations. Bonus: Daytime celebrations can still jazz up the beverage station with Irish coffee on hand.
Hearty soups and stews
While chicken or fish may be the star of the show in warmer months, you can absolutely let a hearty stew or soup take centerstage during winter. Just be sure that you are incorporating enough protein to take it from appetizer to entrée status. Beef, seafood, lentils, beans — there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to soup. Chili is always a popular choice, too.
The beauty of soup is that you can make it a large batch and keep it heated throughout the night. There is minimal need for plating, and you get the opportunity to add a creative flair through different garnishes. Pumpkin seeds, herbed cream, spiced croutons. Get creative with flavors and, most of all, have fun with it!
Many people think winter is a tricky time for menu creation, but it’s time to change that narrative. A bit of innovation and a large dose of comfort can come together for a truly impressive array of dishes that will keep everyone warm and cozy all night long.