Food Network Kitchens: Top Food Trends for 2011

Kelsey's Banana Caramel Cream Pie

The Food Network’s Kitchens offer for your perusal eleven trends that will define the coming year in food. Check out five of the trends here, then visit Food Network’s Dish for the rest of the list.

And if reading about these trends makes you hungry, you’re in luck. This year they’ve distilled (or rather mashed up) the predictions into two emblematic recipes, thus giving you an opportunity unique among year-end forecasts: the chance to eat the predictions! Check back tomorrow for the recipes. If they’re any indication, the year 2011 is going to be a delicious one. Bon appétit!

Sweet Comfort
Throughout the recession we have leaned heavily on comfort food classics of the Southern and savory variety: mac ‘n cheese, fried chicken, shrimp ‘n grits, meatballs, burgers, and the like. In the coming year we expect a turn to the sweet side of comfort. We are looking forward to innovation around that all-American icon: pie. We anticipate pie shops, pie trucks, pie books, pie blogs, festivals of pie. Hopefully everyone gets a piece of the pie in 2011. And that to us is a pretty comforting thought.

Get in on the trend:
Kelsey’s Banana Cream Pie (pictured above)
S’Mores Pie
Salted  Caramel Apple Pie
Emeril’s Shoofly Pie
Chess and Honey Pie

Brew Your Own Beer

Crafting in the Kitchen/At-home Artisanship
Brace yourselves: a 2nd wave of culinary D.I.Y.-ism is about hit our shores. First came the recession-inspired pickling and preserving vogue. Next up: home curing, home brewing, and coffee roasting. Having mastered the art of canning, folks are ready and raring for more hardcore D.I.Y. projects.

Rachael Ray's Chicken Thighs

The Kindest Cut: Chicken Thighs
Save money, eat better –that’s chicken thighs for you. Thighs are cheaper, they’re tastier, and they’re far more forgiving of overcooking than the dry, cottony breast meat we’ve relied on for too long. Whether boneless or bone-in, skinless or skin-on, thighs will be showing up in more homes and on more menus in 2011. That’s something to be thankful for.

Get in on the trend:
Chipotle Chicken Thighs
Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes
Chicken Masala
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Oranges and Rosemary
Baked Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Vegetables Muscle up on Meat
Suddenly vegetables have all the star power. Count Emeril Lagasse, Mark Bittman, Jose Andres, Jamie Oliver, and Mario Batali among the chefs in favor of veggie-centric eating. This message is one whose time has come; expect more vegetable options on chain menus, in schools and airports, more fine dining vegetable exploration, and at home, people embracing forms of flexitarianism (veggies, with a side of meat)  as they welcome a variety of vegetables into their repertoires.

Get in on the trend:
Fettuccine Alfredo with Shiitake Mushrooms, Kale, and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Curried Coconut Vegetable Soup
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
More Vegetarian Recipes

Smoky Bloody Bull with Pickled Okra

Wine Bar Keg Parties and Large Format Cocktails
Wine-on-tap (wine stored in and poured from kegs, a la beer) is going to get trendier. It delivers fresher wine at better prices, and it’s eco-friendly, to boot. What’s not to like about that? In the world of mixed drinks, the revival of classic rum and brandy-based punches continues. Pull out the pitchers for serving batch drinks spiked with the spirits of the moment: tequila and mezcal.

Get in on the trend:
Pilot Punch
Rum Punch
Punch Royal
Festive Party Punch

Get more of the top trends for 2011 on The FN Dish.