3 minutes Inspiration

Making Ends Meet – August 2023

In this article, Country Range development chef, Paul Dickson focuses on making simple changes to your ingredients cupboard or menu to cut costs and improve margins, without compromising on taste or quality.

Whether you are planning to freshen up your menu for Summer or looking for ways to save on staple store cupboard ingredients, here are some creative yet simple ways to improve margins without impacting on the quality of the end product. As an added bonus, look out for the interesting ingredient swap that all of you bakers out there really must try!

This month, Paul Dickson shares his recipe ideas for using rice in a variety of ways to create economical but delicious dishes.

The Rice is Right

Rice is one of the most versatile ambient ingredients in the kitchen. There are so many ways that
rice in its many forms can be used across the menu, from accompanying dishes to being in one-pot
masterpieces and don’t forget that it can also become a pudding! If you’re looking for ways to create interesting menu options whilst maximising your margin, rice is a good place to start.

Serve it Cold

Don’t forget that rice can make a great salad which can accompany grilled meats, halloumi or tofu or by itself as a light lunch or starter. Cook the rice with stock and spices and add some fresh ingredients to add texture and different flavours. I like to add raisins or sultanas which gives it some juicy sweetness.

Spice it Up

Rice is the perfect partner to curries, but with the addition of spices and stock it also makes a complete dish in its own right. Biryani is one of my favourite Indian dishes to make, especially my Chicken Tikka Biryani. Serve with a simple salad or flatbread and you’ve got a delicious and generous main that’s economical to make. And it’s not just Indian flavours that work well with rice. My Mexican Baked Rice is baked in the oven, giving it a crispy texture, or why not try Chicken Firecracker Rice or a filling Cajun Chicken Chilli Bean Rice.

Don’t Forget Pudding

Retro desserts are all the rage at the moment and it doesn’t get much more classic than a traditional rice pudding. When done well, there is nothing more comforting and satisfying than this unctuous treat, especially when it has a crispy top, and its high milk content also makes it a good way to keep elderly people and children hydrated. You don’t have to use specific pudding rice for this, round grain rice works perfectly. Try different flavourings, such as cardamom or coconut milk and turn leftovers into delicious on-trend deep fried rice pudding balls.