Mini Steakhouse Burgers with Crispy Shallots

Childhood Favorites,
Grown-Up Flavor

Three Delicious Ways to Update Three Comfort-Food Classics

Emotional connections to food run deeply within all of us—that's why comfort foods often spring from dishes we enjoyed at our family tables. And when we menu comfort foods, we often pull from childhood favorites. To make our renditions craveable, we need to root the recipes in familiar profiles, but update them with a grown-up sensibility. Our chefs at the Kraft Culinary Centre did just that, offering up three modern takes on three childhood favorites—grilled cheese, burgers and pies.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

Nothing packages nostalgia and comfort food quite like the all-American grilled cheese sandwich. Beautifully customizable and easily recognizable, it gives you the opportunity for creative innovation while staying in the realm of classic and familiar. Our chefs take the iconic grilled cheese and update it for three distinct foodservice segments—family casual, business & industry and upscale dining.

Cuban Chicken Grilled Cheese

Cuban Chicken Grilled Cheese (Family Casual)

Menu solutions—bar food; lunch menus; dinner menus

Other profile—make mini grilled cheeses and call them bocadillos

"This recipe hits the hot trend of Cuban sandwiches, but pulls from what's already in your pantry," says Joseph Barin, corporate chef at Kraft Foodservice. Our chefs replace the traditional roast pork with rotisserie chicken, then build it out with the classic ham, Claussen Kosher Pickles and mustard. For depth of flavor, they rely on Grey Poupon Classic Dijon Mustard.

Sweet-Heat Chicken Grilled Cheese & Chicken

Sweet-Heat Chicken Grilled Cheese & Chicken (B&I)

Menu solutions—bar food; lunch menus; dinner menus

Other use for spread—use as a glaze on grilled chicken or pork

This is a delicious, simple sandwich that again utilizes ingredients on hand. For a satisfying grilled-bread profile, our chefs spray the grill with non-stick spray, crisping the multigrain bread nicely. Grilled chicken and fresh spinach contribute to its better-for-you profile and Velveeta Cheese adds that wonderful mouthfeel diners expect from a grilled cheese. For both added flavor and texture, our chefs spread the bread with a blend of apricot jam, Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil, TAPATÍO Hot Sauce and Grey Poupon Classic Dijon Mustard.

Steak & Bleu Grilled Cheese with Poached Pear Salad

Steak & Bleu Grilled Cheese with Poached Pear Salad (Upscale)

Menu solutions—bar food; lunch menus; dinner menus

Other idea—instead of blue cheese in the sandwich, offer blue-cheese dressing as a dipping sauce

This grilled cheese oozes with sophistication and bold flavors. Our chefs crust filet mignon with Montreal seasoning. Its citrus and coriander notes play beautifully off the rye bread. Colby Jack adds cheesy mouthfeel while the blue cheese brings in sharp notes, but still melts out on the sandwich. Grey Poupon adds balance.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Fries

Looking for great shareable appetizers? Menu loaded fries—distinct, delicious and so much fun. Click here to learn more.

Mini Burger Mania

Mini burgers are here to stay. And why not? They're fun, social and delicious. The "fun" aspect is an important driver for consumers. In its 2011 Burger Consumer Trend Report, Technomic reports that "fun to eat" tops all other drivers for mini-burger purchases. According to that same report, mini-burger consumption is up: 24% of consumers order mini burgers at least once a week compared to just 16% in 2009. Our chefs took the burger into three mini directions—pub/steakhouse, ethnic and eclectic.

Mini Bao Burgers with Spicy Steak Sauce

Mini Bao Burgers with Spicy Steak Sauce (Ethnic)

Menu solutions—appetizer; bar food; catering

Other use for spread—add to an Asian fish taco

These mini burgers answer to adventurous diners, bringing the wonderful flavors of Asia into a burger profile—from the soft bao buns to the delicately tempuraed green onions. Our chefs add a sauce that blends the sweet, spicy flavors of A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce with hoisin and TAPATÍO Hot Sauce. Pear slices balance the saltiness with perfumed sweetness.

Mini Jibarito Burgers with Fried Plantains

Mini Jibarito Burgers with Fried Plantains (Eclectic)

Menu solutions—appetizer; bar food; catering

Other spread—go for the classic profile, which sees the plantains slathered with mayonnaise.

With most burgers, the bun is just a vehicle for the good stuff, but with this Chicago invention, the fried plantains replace the bun, adding an aromatic dimension of sweetness and crisp/soft texture. In our rendition, A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce combined with Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce adds a balance of tang, sweet and spice.

Mini Steakhouse Burgers with Crispy Shallots

Mini Steakhouse Burgers with Crispy Shallots (Pub/Steakhouse)

Menu solutions—appetizer; bar food; catering

Alternative to blue cheese crumbles—use blue-cheese dressing on the burger, or offer as dipping sauce

Mini size, huge flavor profile. Our chefs build a steakhouse mini burger with a potato bun, add palate-coating Camembert and sharp, creamy Gorgonzola. To stand up to those big flavors, they turn to A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce, with its savory, layered tones. Crispy shallots and sweet pear round out the textural counterpoint.

Grown Ups Love Pie, Too

Who doesn't love pie? Our chefs tackle this classic dessert, making it exciting again with unexpected combinations and irresistible plate presentations. Your pie offerings need to stimulate all of the senses. "Diners are demanding new, interesting, exciting flavor combinations," says Ryan Baxter, senior executive research and development chef at Kraft Foodservice. "That's how our team approaches recipe development—menu distinction, ease of execution and dishes that eat well."

Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake Pie

Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake Pie (Retro)

Other profile—switch out pineapple with apple, peach, apricot or pear

Everyone loves the caramelized gooeyness that pineapple upside-down cakes deliver. This one adds the creamy richness of cheesecake underneath, adding 'wow' factor and that all-important menu distinction.

Cherry Cheesecake Pie

Cherry Cheesecake Pie (Upscale Casual)

Other profiles—switch out cherry filling for apple-pie filling or blueberry filling

For diners vacillating between pie and cheesecake—give them both! This cheesecake pie brings the wonderful pairing of cherry and almond together in a delicious layered profile. Our chefs top a graham-cracker crust with almond cream, then add a creamy, rich layer of cheesecake batter made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, then dotted and swirled with cherry-pie filling. This dessert scores points through a familiar, popular profile, but presented in a memorable, unique way.

Peaches & Cream Hand Pie

Peaches & Cream Hand Pie (Mini)

Other profile—substitute fresh strawberries for the peaches and use fresh basil in place of thyme

Pie's fun, portable answer to the mini dessert trend? Hand pies. We're seeing them on food trucks, in bakeries and at independents across the country. Our version sees a moon-shaped pie filled with fresh peaches, fresh thyme, lemon zest, sugar and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. A fun caramel dipping sauce finishes the profile.

Sliders, Grilled Cheeses & Pies