In last month’s newsletter I discussed ideas for refining a recipe and taking it from the initial ‘idea’ stage through to its ‘best’ finished version.

Along that same line of thought, this month, the topic is finding ways to create a recipe that is new and ‘unique’, if not within that great big foodie sandbox that is Google and the internet, at least new and exciting to you and your family. Here at Dizzy Pig, we’ve developed several signature recipes that have been cooked by hundreds . . .even thousands of people. Our most popular over the years have been:

  • Stuffed Raging River Pork Tenderloin

  • Seared and Roasted French Rack of Lamb

  • Dizzy Pig Nad Stew

  • Almost Fried Chicken Wings

  • Raging River Seafood Chowder

  • Tsunami Spin Grilled Crabcakes

  • Raging River Maple/Butter Crusted Salmon

  • Curryish Ginger Garlic Meatballs

The first suggestion I would have for your new creation is to take a tour through the local ethnic markets in your area, if available.

See a vegetable you’ve never tried or heard of? A cut of meat outside the realm of mainstream use? A sauce or marinade that catches your eye? Why not purchase one of these and then read up on them (but not so much in terms of recipes, but just in generalities such as flavor profile, texture and matching ingredients). And once you do that, set the ingredient in a high profile place in your fridge or out on your counter. Force yourself to use it! Don’t tuck it back in the fridge/cupboard/pantry until you forget it and/or it goes bad. Make yourself use that ingredient. Who knows; it could become the key to your next ‘signature dish’!

My other main suggestion is to turn and twist the ideas you have for dishes until you see them take on a whole new shape and role.

I hate using a cliché, but yes, definitely think ‘outside the box’ for inspiration in creating your own ‘signature dish’. Let me pull an example from my own experiences: My wife’s favorite dish that I make is a smoked mushroom ravioli. A little wee bit outside the box, but I’m sure you’ve seen/heard/tried this recipe. It really is a nice recipe and one I enjoy making for Denise, my wife.

However, how does one go about ‘re-inventing’ something like Smoked Mushroom Ravioli? For me, the key consideration in how to look at this dish differently, is to re-examine the components. Mushrooms draw in smoke like a sponge and thus the dish, as currently created, has a strong smoke component to the filling. What if we didn’t smoke the mushrooms? What if we smoked the cheese in the sauce/filling instead? How would that change the flavor profile? To take that a step further, what if we didn’t smoke the mushroom and the cheese at all, but maybe we cold smoked the cream for the sauce? Or even subtler still, what if we cold smoked the flour that we use to make the pasta dough?! Right there, what we now have are 4 or 5 ideas/options to take our basic Smoked Mushroom Ravioli dish and spin it in ways that open up doors to changes in smoke, texture and ultimately taste.

So, that’s the key to developing a true ‘signature dish’.

Take something you are familiar with and comfortable with in approaching and look at it from all angles. Spin them around in your mind until you see the dish in a way you’d never envisioned before, and when you see that new door, open it up, walk around and explore. Keep thinking outside the box and, as always, Get Spun in every fantastic food adventure!

by Mike Kerslake