What’s all the hoopla about signature dishes? Ass I see on the food programs or read in the Wednesday food sections is signature this or signature that. Every time I walk in to a restaurant and I’m greeted by a chalkboard shouting a signature dish I think to myself, “Holy crap! Another food star wannabe is in the kitchen.
Tastes evolve and trends come and go and that is what fuels the lust for signature dishes. Most of the time a signature dish means nothing more than today’s “Chef’s Special”
In reality, signature dish is few and far between on the culinary landscape. A few around the world have stood the test of time. Snail Porridge, Roasted Bone Marrow with parsley or Tarte Tatin come to mind.
Any one can put a dish that is unique but these days a signature dish also includes the restaurants, décor, ingredients used even the dish itself that it is served on.
A signature dish is simple. If you care and pay attention to detail, a signature dish should be the next dish you serve.
My own Signature Dishes
The word “Dish” has several different meanings in the English language. This is a picture of my own signature dishes. I’ll get to them tomorrow, quit nagging me.
Lt. Dish M*A*S*H
A “dish” can also be an attractive woman, such as Lt. Dish in the popular TV series M*A*S*H. She was hot and I don’t mean Hotlips. I would love to share a signature dish with this babe.
Far from a signature dish, the satellite dish in the corner of my yard is now a metallic birdbath. Couldn’t pick up the local channels and crappy reception when it was raining out.
I think one of my favorite chefs is that rascal Gordon Ramsay from the TV. As grating as this guy is he can cook, and he lets you know it. His restaurants worldwide have earned 15 Michelin stars and his books and TV shows are widely acclaimed. I suppose if I wanted to dine on a signature dish, and I’m not saying there is such a thing as a signature dish, I would enjoy Chef Ramsay’s Signature Dish.
Chef Ramsay's Beef Wellington
1 Lb. Beef Fillet
¾ Lb. Portabella Mushrooms
4 Slices Parma Ham
Coleman’s English Mustard
2 Egg Yolks
8 Charlotte/New potatoes
1 Clove Garlic, Smashed
1 Sprig Thyme
2 Large Baby Gem Lettuce
Sea Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Mustard Vinaigrette, (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 390 degrees
Heat some oil in a large pan and quickly fry the seasoned beef all over until it's brown. Remove and allow to cool. The point of this is simply to sear the beef and seal all those juices in; you don't want to cook the meat at this stage. Allow to cool and brush generously with the mustard.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and blend in a food processor to form a puree. Scrape the mixture into a hot, dry pan and allow the water to evaporate. When sufficiently dry (the mixture should be sticking together easily), set aside and cool.
Roll out a generous length of cling film; lay out the four slices of Parma ham, each one slightly overlapping the last. With a pallet knife spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the ham.
Place the beef fillet in the middle and keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edge, neatly roll the Parma ham and mushrooms over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends to secure the cling film. Refrigerate for 10 -15 minutes, this allows the Wellington to set and helps keep the shape.
Roll out the pastry quite thinly to a size which will cover your beef. Unwrap the meat from the cling film. Egg wash the edge of the pastry and place the beef in the middle. Roll up the pastry, cut any excess off the ends and fold neatly to the 'underside'. Turnover and egg wash over the top. Chill again to let the pastry cool, approximately 5 minutes. Egg wash again before baking for 35 - 40 minutes. Rest 8 -10 minutes before slicing.
Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Quarter them and leave the skin on. Sauté in olive oil and butter with the garlic and thyme, until browned and cooked through. Season. Remove the thyme and garlic before serving.
Separate the outside leaves of the baby gem (leaving the smaller inner ones for salads) and very quickly sauté them in a pan of olive oil with a little salt and pepper - just enough to wilt them.
Serve hearty slices of the Wellington alongside the sautéed potatoes and wilted baby gems. A classic mustard vinaigrette makes a great dressing.