On a recent episode of In the Kitchen with Sterling Silver, Chef Pete Geoghegan spoke with Griffith Foods Executive Chef Timothy Baran about the art of seasoning when it comes to beef. While on the topic of using cinnamon as a featured flavor, Chef Timothy mentioned an idea of rethinking a lamb-based Moussaka as a beef chili.
“I was thinking about Moussaka. It’s stronger and it has all of these really earthy spices—that cinnamon, that nutmeg, that allspice blend. I started thinking about how that would pair in some kind of beef chili or beef stew.”
Moussaka is a layered baked dish commonly found in the Balkans and the Middle East. Traditionally made with minced lamb, Moussaka also often includes eggplant, potato, a creamy béchamel sauce and an assortment of robust spices and seasonings.
“Then all of a sudden,” Chef Timothy continued, “you’ve got this chunky beef stew that maybe has parsley leaves and pearl onions. And you’ve got this underlying tone of these darker, warmer winter spices. Take a little cardamom paired with coriander, that cooling nutmeg and that warm allspice, and if you’re using the right cinnamon—that really sweet cinnamon—that would create a really lovely winter stew.”
Combining the rich flavors of Moussaka and the familiar comfort food-style of beef stew can help you put a unique item on the menu that separates your restaurant from your competition. The use of global flair also lets you leverage the ever-present desire for foods from outside the U.S.
Chef Pete agreed. “It’s not something that you necessarily say, ‘Oh, I can taste the cinnamon in it,’ but it’s playing a part. You don’t want to put it in there if it’s not doing something. That’s the beauty of seasonings. We can play around with a lot of stuff. We can get an idea from something we tried and then we could start playing around with other flavors.”
Listen to the episode to hear the full conversation.