Complimentary Sides

It is sometimes difficult to make that perfect side dish to pair so exclusively with that amazing steak you just prepared, but in reality should it be that hard?  I do feel that side dishes should compliment the main protein or portion of the dish without trying to over compensate any part of the entree.  Now I don’t want to be the one to tell you that two things should never go together, cause let’s face it, chefs pair up terrible food everyday. There are just some things that should not be paired like plain white rice with a grilled ribeye, port wine with your main entree, me and Harris Teeter, you get the point! NO MATCH!

I also don’t really want to say there is a basic rule of thumb either, cause let’s be honest here, is some chef from some book really going to tell you what you can and can’t eat? I don’t think so.  However, I do pair up certain proteins with sides because I know they work and heck they taste great together.  To me just about any vegetable goes well with just about any protein, the key though is making sure the vegetables are in season. Be sure to use root veggies i.e. carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, etc in the winter and baby vegetables, tomatoes, etc. in the summer months.  Starch however is a bit more refined in my book and I do believe they serve their purpose with certain proteins.  I prefer potatoes, pasta, a few grains or just veggies with beef, I like rice, pasta or potatoes with pork, chicken and rice.  This does not mean you can’t make risotto with veal, because let me tell you that you most certainly can and its delicious.  The cool trick to sides is figuring out what the protein goes well with.  For instance I know chicken goes well with tomatoes, but instead of making a tomato base sauce maybe I’ll put some tomatoes in a rice pilaf.  I know blue cheese goes amazing with beef, then why not try to make a blue cheese mashed potatoes?  You catch my drift?  In any case it is all about testing and tuning, but never-the-less buy fresh whenever you can and stick to produce that is in season and sustainable!

Chef Billy Parisi

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