Modern Hot Platter Garnish

In classical cuisine,food was nearly always brought to the dining room on large platters and then served, rather than being plated in the kitchen, as is most often done today.

This practice is still sometimes used for banquet service, and nothing stimulates appetites as much as a succulent roast on a silver platter, sumptuously adorned with a colorful variety of vegetable garnishes.

The classical garnitures most often adapted to modern platter presentation are those called bouquetière, jardinière, and printanière.At one time, these were specific vegetable assortments cut in prescribed ways.Today the terms are taken in a more general way indicating colorful assortments of various fresh vegetables.

Platter garnish need not be elaborate or difficult to prepare.A simple assortment of colorful vegetables, carefully cut and properly cooked to retain color and texture, is appropriate to the most elegant presentation. Stuffed vegetables, such as tomato halves filled with peas, are a little fancier, but still easy to prepare. Borders of duchesse potatoes are also popular (see p. 590).

Many of the rules of proper plating apply to platter arrangement as well—for ex-ample,those that call for neatness, balance of color and shape,unity, and preserving the individuality of the items. Following are a few more guidelines that apply to hot platter presentation and garnish.

1. Vegetables should be in easily served units.

In other words, don't heap green peas or mashed potatoes on one corner of the platter. More suitable are vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, boiled tomatoes, asparagus spears, whole green beans, mushroom caps, or anything that comes in large or easy-to-handle pieces. Small vegetables such as peas can be easily served if they are used to fill artichoke bottoms, tomato halves, or tartlet shells.

2. Have the correct number of portions of each item.

Vegetables like brussels sprouts and tournéed carrots are easily portioned in the dining room if they are arranged in little portion-size piles.

3. Arrange the garnishes around the platter to get the best effect from the different colors and shapes.

The meat, poultry, or fish is usually placed in the center of the platter, or in a row or rows, and the garnishes are arranged around it.

4. Avoid being too elaborate.

While it is sometimes desirable to make ornate platters, simplicity is usually preferable to an overworked appearance. Let the attractiveness of the food speak for it-self.The garnish should never dominate or hide the meat,which is the center of attention.

5. Serve extra sauce or gravy in a sauceboat.

If it is appropriate, dress or nap the meat or fish items with some of the sauce, but don't drown the entire platter with it.

6. Serve hot foods hot, on a hot platter.

Don't spend so much time arranging the food that it's cold by the time it reaches the dining room.

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