FoodUniversity has adopted the philosophy that a plate's character should be carried through in every item placed on it. If a braised lamb shank is the item at the center of the plate, it should be accompanied by braised vegetables.
Our reasoning is simple. The plate presentation would require jus or sauces to help keep the shank moist. The vegetables, having been braised, (a moist cooking method) would also be enhanced by the jus or sauce. Also, because the vegetables were cooked with the shank in the latter stages of preparation, the sauce or jus would enhance all components and draw all together. Other vegetables and starches can be used, but each should be enhanced by moisture or have been cooked using a moist heat process.
Food cooked by dry heat methods offer the greatest diversity and latitude, but even a nicely roasted or grilled piece of meat can be devalued by placing poached vegetables or potatoes on the plate. The moisture from these components softens or even destroys the crispness and rich caramelization characteristic of roasted and grilled meats.
Another example of common plating error is placing a fried gaufrette potato garnish on a braised or poached item. The steam created by the most meat would break down the crispness of the potato; by the time the guest was served, the potato would have become an inferior component on the plate.
Our philosophy, simply stated, is as follows:
poached with poached items.
By grouping these cooking methods together, the theme of the plate also is easily maintained. Braised vegetables maintain the hearty, rustic look of a braised shank. Delicately poached vegetables maintain the delicate look and elegance of a poached salmon.