Tag Archives: plating ideas

Deconstructed v Non Deconstructed plating

One of the more interesting trends in food over the last decade or so (possibly longer), is the idea of a deconstructed meal.  In short, it involves taking all the resident components of a dish, say a chicken parmesan, and leaving one or more components separated.  In an effort to keep pushing boundaries, many top chefs began moving components of a meal from an aggregated whole, to separate components on the same, or even different plates.

Here’s an example of such a meal from the great people at The Seasonlist (www.TheSeasonalist.com/the-italian-job)

Chicken Parmesan with Lemon Fettuccini & Asparagus

And now, here’s a more traditional version we did late last year.

chicken parm

You’ll note the plating in the second pic generally incorporates all the items typically seen in a classic chicken parm dish appropriately.  Both meals plate up quite well.  The deconstructed meal also gives the host/chef an opportunity to draw equal attention to both key components of a classic chicken parm:  the chicken, and the accompanying pasta.

Here’s a clever one for a classic down south experience – the shrimp seafood boil.  First the constructed, and then the deconstructed version.


deconstructed shrimp boil

That first pic came from the lovely and skilled Kathy Marker over at “Hungry Again” (www.Hungry-Again.com/low-country-shrimp-boil).  Tell you what – I want an invitation to her next party!  I’ll say the same thing about the second pic, which comes to us from the equally lovely “DC Ladies.”  You can get a ton of great ideas at their site http://www.TheDCLadies.com with pics of this specific dish at the following link:  http://www.thedcladies.com/2013/05/20/deconstructed-shrimp-boil-skewers/

Done hors d’oeuvre style, it’s a nifty spin on the original deep south classic.  Of course, done THIS way, you can also adjust for the spiciness of the dish, in case you have guests with different heat tolerances, especially young kids. This dish also tends to adhere to a common serving point with food, in that the content of a well plated dish will have three like items plated.

Going to share one last deconstructed dish before calling it a day.  Serving up a classic spinach and sausage lasagna here from “Deliciously Declassified” (http://deliciouslydeclassified.com/2012/05/30/spinach-and-sausage-lasagna/).


Sometimes, a dish with this much color and ‘oomph’ just needs to sit by itself on a plate.  Also it’s done in the classic style of a full meal serving.

Going for hors d’oeuvre sizing once more, we have this version from “Glow Kitchen” (http://www.glowkitchen.com/2012/08/deconstructed-lasagna-hors-doeuvres/).

deconstructed lasagna

All of us that do quality home cooking should use some of these images as inspiration to play with your food…before plating it. 




Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

The first cold blast of the season hit this week, and it’s time for some comfort food.  For today’s recipe, I’m throwing in a winner that my girlfriend found about 6 weeks ago.  A little fried chicken fingers with my first attempt at a homemade creamed corn, served with a broccoli/cheese rice casserole.  The girlfriend and I started trying to do one homemade meal per week. With our work/hobby schedules, it’s a bit of a challenge, but one well worth taking, as you can see from the results.

The recipe here is only for the chicken. Click the title of this post, and it will take you to the recipe we used.  I’ll be sure to post the recipe for the broccoli/cheese rice casserole and the homemade creamed corn another time.  The honey-mustard sauce is homemade, and pretty easy to make.  It’s a 50/50 split of honey and mustard.  That’s really it.  Once it reaches a nice consistency, you can add a little milk or cream (your choice) to thin it out just a bit.  If you have thinned it out TOO much, put it over low heat with a smidge of corn starch to thicken it.

When finished, just spread on the plate using a spoon.  (No glopping! – Yes, WordPress, “glopping” is a word I made up…stop trying to correct it))  Guys, if you want to get REALLY fancy, throw that honey-mustard sauce into a squeeze bottle, and lay out some small dots on the plate in a random pattern, or a straight line.  Just keep it simple, and don’t over-complicate the plate with enough dots to make it look like someone with lots of freckles. 🙂

Quick lesson (mostly for the guys):  other than the cooking utensils, the only thing I used to get that plate looking half-way decent was a biscuit cutter.

“But Mario, I don’t have one of those…anything else I can use?”

I’m glad you asked! While not as elegant, you definitely CAN use an empty soup can or an inverted ramekin.

NOTE:  My microbiologist girlfriend wants me to remind you here, that you should remove the label, wash the can thoroughly (dish washing cycle preferable) before using a soup can for plating purposes.

Now, back to the previous paragraph which I interrupted for your safety announcement.  Use an empty soup can, a ramekin, or a biscuit cutter to form the corn into an attractive round shape.  You can also use a wide biscuit cutter to form pasta.  I’ll show you an example of that on another day.  In my case, the creamed corn wasn’t sturdy enough to hold the chicken fingers and retain its shape.

If you try this recipe and want to show off similar plating, I’d suggest maybe using the rice casserole as the item formed by the cutter on the plate.  If that doesn’t work because the mutant-sized chicken fingers are too large and heavy, just plate the fingers around the object like my example above.  No big deal!

You’ll notice this is a very ‘yellow’ plate. You could use some chopped parsley on the formed object for a little dash of extra color contrast for more visual appeal.  If you use a round plate, try to find a square object to plate a smaller amount so you don’t have circles on circles.  That’s not a ‘win’ for plating, typically.

For kids, you could actually use a cookie cutter for the right amount of creamed corn or rice casserole.  Since kids eat less, you don’t have to worry as much about plating a large amount of either the corn or casserole, and you could have fun with different cookie shapes.  I’d get a good laugh at a ginger-bread cookie cutter forming some creamed corn for their plate.  It helps kids ‘eat’ with their eyes, and is an interesting trick to help, you as a parent, cut into the picky eating syndrome.

Now get out there, and enjoy some good food!