BRINGING DEPTH AND FLAVOUR TO SCHOOL CATERING

BRINGING DEPTH AND FLAVOUR TO SCHOOL CATERING
Essential  Cuisine

Essential Cuisine

Premium Supplier 21st August 2012

BRINGING DEPTH AND FLAVOUR TO SCHOOL CATERING

Essential ingredient
As the bedrock ingredient in commercial kitchens, stock delivers balance and depth of flavour to a dish, but making a stockpot from scratch is a longwinded process that caterers often do not have the time or skill for, without considering the health and safety obligations, and, in school catering, the stringent School Food Trust guidelines.
“Stocks are crucial to a great recipe, the heart and soul, delivering depth and balance of flavour in a final dish, and, without them, food will be bland and uninteresting,” said Nigel Crane, managing director of stock specialist Essential Cuisine and Dorchester-trained chef.
“It doesn’t matter if you spent time sourcing the best meat and the freshest of seasonal veg. If a sauce smells artificial, is salty or the taste lingers a lot longer than warranted, it will spoil the meal, which, in school catering, might affect school lunch uptake in the longer term.
“Having the time and the necessary skills to make great, consistent sauces is a challenge, however, and caterers are becoming less precious about admitting they will call on help, so long as those products do not compromise their dishes.”
The key is not to waste money on pre-prepared stocks. “This generally comes down to buying a product that seems like good value, but costs more in the long run, requiring perhaps twice as much effort in trying get the right consistency and taste. It’s a problem caterers often fall foul of, we’ve found. Always look at price per litre, not price per pack.”
He said caterers should look at children’s evolving taste buds to determine which stocks were going to be the most invaluable in making sauces that worked on rotating menus.
“Offering a selection of unimaginative meals such as chicken nuggets, fish fingers and pizza is likely to make children pickier in the long run, plus the fact that the world is a far smaller place these days and children’s eyes are being opened to all kinds of cuisines,” he said.
“As is currently being proved on school menus across the country, many children have become converts of dishes such as chicken curry, spaghetti Bolognese and lasagne, Mexican chilli con carne and enchiladas, and even Chinese noodles, all of which are a brilliant way of disguising vegetables. All these dishes need stock for their sauce bases, so it’s a good idea to make sure you always have a good supply of chicken, beef and vegetable stock to hand.”  
Stocks to savour
Essential Cuisine has become a respected one stop shop for stocks and sauce bases, with other school friendly products in the expanding range including a powdered béchamel sauce mix to ensure consistency and alleviate the risk of food poisoning, and rich gravies for roasts.
Its comprehensive range of stocks is available through 3663 and independent delivered wholesalers, with each stock offering a superior yield of 50ltrs per 800g tub (around 30p per litre) and delivering a taste just like kitchen-made stock; clean, natural and balanced.
To meet the School Food Trust guidelines, the stocks have a low level of fat (c3%), no MSG or preservatives and, in line with ‘Responsibility Deal’ targets, an appropriate level of seasoning.
With a 12 month shelf life, there is no need to refrigerate after opening, and each tub is colour coded for easy recognition.
Ranging from chicken, beef and fish to light vegetable and cheese, they are not overpowering to suit young palates and are gluten-free for those with special dietary requirements. Another consideration is Muslim diets and the need for specialist ingredients.
“According to the World Halal Forum, there are two million ­halal consumers in Britain, and there are Muslim families who may be put off sending their children down the school lunch route because of this particular cultural difference in the preparation of food,” said Nigel.
Essential Cuisine’s halal range of chicken, vegetable, beef and lamb flavoured stocks are licensed by the Halal Food Authority, giving Muslims more choice when eating outside the home. Each stock is made in a dedicated, licensed production unit by staff trained in appropriate handling of halal ingredients and products, and managed according to HACCP principals to ensure segregation from non-halal materials throughout the production process.
Check out new You Tube channel
It’s all very well reading how to do something, but to see it put into practice is something else, which is why Essential Cuisine has launched its own You Tube video channel.
In regularly updated clips, the company’s development chefs demonstrate individual benefits of the company’s stock, jus, glace and gravy products and how to get the best out of each.
Check the channel out at: www.youtube.com/user/essentialcuisine1?feature=results_main

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