December 13, 2010
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Inventing Food

Hidden Kitchen provides a wonderful example of the thought behind creating a wonderful new dish. In “Making America Proud”, they want to make a terrific baked potato, inspired by fast-food but refined until it reaches a platonic ideal.

As we saw it, the perfect baked potato had six essential elements; potato, bacon, broccoli, chives, sour cream and cheese. Each of these six components served a specific function in the overall success of a dish; potato for neutral volume, bacon for salt, broccoli for refreshing bite, chives for cleansing, sour cream for tang and cheese another form of salt and a somewhat unctuous mouthfeel.

You could go to Wendy’s, of course. But Hidden Kitchen wants to refine this. In place of bacon bits, for example, they start with

a braised pork belly that was slowly cooked over four hours. We then pan seared the belly in cast iron until the outside was crunchy but the center remained fork tender.

To make a warm cheese sauce, they start from a bechamel. Naturally. But now we have an elegant white sauce and “this dish needed some melty, neon, Wendy’s-esque sauce” to really get that American fast-food spirit going. And what would deepen the flavor? Some turmeric for fluorescence, and some smoked paprika for color and earthy spice.