Classic recipes have remained staples in kitchens for a good reason. Comforting, familiar, and deliciously authentic, these recipes stay with us across generations and regions.
But even our favorite tastes need a little shake-up now and then. Whether it's a family recipe passed down or a crinkled recipe clipped from a magazine years ago, a little experimentation can go a long way to transform the classics we all love into the same comfort food with a modern twist.
So, here's an invitation to unleash your imagination with a few simple tricks to keep your favorite recipes fresh, creating modern classics everyone will love.
I. Experiment With Unexpected Flavors
Our forite trick is to insert a new flavor - something unexpected that blends the old (your favorite recipe) with something new (a more modern or exotic ingredient).
This trick can be found throughout the culinary world - often yielding some of the most iconic and viral recipes and menu items around the world. One enduring trend is to use classic beverages (like espresso or beer) to enhance the flavor profile of a dish. Beverages are just the beginning, and the options for experimentation are virtually endless.
Beyond unexpected additions, you can also substitute ingredients to add more flavor or increase the nutritional value with a healthier option or alternate protein. Think replacing mild cheddar with brie cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich, or replacing cream with Greek yogurt in a cake or sauce.
II. Switch Up the Cooking Technique
Another easy way to liven up your favorite dish is to experiment with the cooking technique. Aside from a quick refresh, this trick can also save time and clean up in the kitchen. If you're uncomfortable frying up a dish, try baking it instead. Or, break out the sheet pan to adapt a multiple-step recipe into a simple one-pan meal for a crowd, like a sheet pan pizza.
One of the greatest classics to benefit from this is the oh-so-delicious and addictive fried chicken. Really - does anyone love frying food at home? Baking in the oven simplifies the task and reduces active time in the kitchen, while also making the dish a healthier option for the whole family. Try this Hot Honey "Fried" Chicken and you might be a convert, too.
If you do enjoy breaking out the oil and frying something up, these Crispy Spaghetti Bites add a whole new textural experience to an easy kitchen classic.
III. Mix Up the Dish
Perhaps the simplest trick is to change the format of the dish - using all of the flavors you love and adjusting it into something easier to make or more convenient to consume. Take your favorite nacho flavors and make a Mexican pizza instead. Not just for desserts, pie crust can add a sophisticated flair to savory dishes, like a classic shepherd's pie. Or, turn a BLT into a salad for an easy lunch on the go.
This method also allows you to omit or decrease the amount of certain ingredients that have become a smaller portion of your diet over time (think carbohydrates, sugar, protein, or dairy). For example, turn lasagna into a soup to eliminate the noodles, or use cauliflower instead of rice in a curry. Or, replace the bread with a baked potato for a paleo-friendly ground beef classic, like a burger or sloppy joe.
IV. Use Technology to Your Advantage
The availability of restaurant-grade equipment for the home kitchen in recent years has transformed the cooking experience. In addition to creating new textures, tools like air fryers and sous vide machines also decrease active time and cooking time in the kitchen.
Whether you are transforming a classic holiday meal or adding simple elegance (and convenience) to a weeknight meal, pressure cookers, air fryers, and sous vide tools are a great investment for your kitchen.
V. Find Your Fusion
Over the last few years, social media has spread regional culinary flavors and dishes to the masses - making the international culinary world more approachable than ever.
Don't be afraid to try new dishes from regions around the world to broaden your archive of favorite classics. With knowledge of new flavors and spices, you can also transport your everyday classics with new ingredients and a splash of fusion.
Fusion recipes have led to some of the most exciting dishes in restaurants across the world - elevating the profile of many young chefs. The good news is that adding a dash of fusion at home is an easy task to apply to any dish, including cakes, cookies, vegetables, proteins, and even cocktails. Some of the most accessible fusion-inspired ingredients include alternative creams (coconut milk, Greek yogurt, ricotta, or mascarpone), fruits and vegetables (sweet potatoes, lime, peppers, greens, ginger, mango, or papaya), spices and flavors (curry, matcha, miso, or chai), or even humble herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, or tarragon).
Fusion can also be applied to translate the dish into a new format, adding convenience or a bit of whim to a classic. Some of our favorites include sushi tacos or the cult-favorite cronut.
Ready to modernize those classic recipes? Try our new Salisbury Steak with Miso Gravy recipe!