6 Considerations for Plating Chicken
Chefs know that how food is presented is nearly as important as how it tastes. When it comes to chicken, however, plating it in a visually pleasing manner can be a challenge. We asked our sous vide chicken expert, Beau Batchelor, for his advice on plating chicken. Although he doesn’t prescribe to any hard and fast rules, he did give us a few chicken plating guidelines that we wanted to pass on. Whether you’re using our CHEF’S CRAFT® sous vide chicken breast fillets or your own chicken breast, here are six tips for plating.
The chicken can — and should — be the star of your plate. But one of the biggest challenges in plating chicken is its lack of color. Because of this obstacle, it’s important to introduce some color with the other ingredients on the plate. Chicken works best with a vibrant supporting cast. Additionally, Beau recommends including ingredients that look natural. He says, “I like including herbs and vegetables on the plate. Nothing that’s unnaturally green or red — I want it closest to how it appears in nature.” Overly processed colors aren’t appetizing and won’t give your chicken the boost it deserves.
The canvas for your dish is possibly the most important element in helping determine the rest of your plating strategy. More and more chefs are leaning toward branching out beyond the traditional white plate into different colors and textures. For example, a current trend is to utilize a more traditional plate, such as hand-thrown clay pottery. Embracing trends is fine, Beau says, as long as you follow his guiding principle to “be judicious.” Consider your plate choice and how it will reflect your ingredients carefully.
Another visual impediment is the shape of the chicken breast and how it tapers. The taper means that the bottom of the breast never presents as well compared to the top, so it can be difficult to make the whole breast look good. Slicing is a good solution to make the chicken breast more visually appealing. Smaller-width slices or larger chunks will allow the shape to better blend together. Beau recommends shingling, with a tip: “Turn it over. If you expose the white meat by shingling, it will make a huge difference in the way the chicken presents.”
The taper isn’t the only reason Beau recommends slicing. It’s a good way to see the texture in the chicken. Especially if you’re using our CHEF’S CRAFT® sous vide chicken breast, you’ll want to showcase the moist product, and larger medallion slices are the best way to do so.
Beau doesn’t follow strict ingredient patterns, but he does try to make the chicken the focal point when he’s plating. He says, “Whatever design you choose to display is really up to you, but the protein should be the centerpiece.” He also recommends arranging the food so that it flows toward the consumer. Whether you decide to slice or shingle, make sure it is facing the consumer or at least guiding the consumer toward it. Abstract designs are probably not the best choice for chicken dishes, considering the shape of the chicken breast.
Again, there’s no hard and fast rule on which textures you must include with chicken, but a good guideline is to incorporate a variety of textures. You wouldn’t want to, for example, have only purees on the plate. Beau says, “One of my favorite ways to incorporate texture is to crisp the chicken skin and include it on the plate when presenting.”
Every chef knows that white space is vital to a successful plating strategy, and plating chicken dishes is no exception. That said, it’s important to keep white space in check. Beau says, “White space can quickly become too much and overwhelm the plate. It can easily appear as if you aren’t giving the consumer a whole plate of food and turn into a performance.” At the end of the day, you want your consumer to be satisfied with the dish you’ve served.
Chefs have plenty of reasons for concern, but plating doesn’t have to be one of them with these six considerations. In case you’re wondering, all these tips also apply to plating our CHEF’S CRAFT® sous vide natural chicken breast fillets. Check out our recipe inspirations for more ideas on how to incorporate our sous vide fillets into your menu.