Beverages appearing as food ingredients on menus

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Beverages are appearing more and more on the menus of independent restaurants as key ingredients in entrees, appetizers and desserts. The insight emerged following a review of the menus of 100 independent restaurants across the United States by the market research firm Technomic, Inc.

“Chefs have long been using flavored drinks in various preparation methods, but the way beverages are being used on today’s independent menus is helping to redefine the boundaries between comfort food and gourmet cuisine,” said Laura McGuire, editorial manager. “Using soda or beer as part of the preparation adds casualness to the dish, even when the proteins or other ingredients are uncommon. These independent restaurants are revisiting comfort food and putting contemporary twists on old themes.”

Examples cited in the report included sweet tea brined pork chop with creamed corn and apricot cardamom chutney; Pepsi-braised pork belly; blueberry Guinness cheesecake; pan seared coffee and ancho chile-rubbed duck breast, served with chipotle bacon cheese grits, sautéed spinach and fig demi-glace; and bananas Foster french toast that features Bacardi-spiked caramelized bananas, challah and vanilla-bean Chantilly.

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