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please help me plan my wedding dinner...

we are trying to determine the perfect main course choices for our wedding dinner. the appetizer is a squash soup and we are going to offer veal and wild salmon for entree choices. here's where we need help:

1. how should these dishes be prepared?
2. what should come with them to complete the dish?

any and all suggestions by fellow chowhounds are welcome...

thank you...

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  1. wow... expensive choices. i would however, caution against wild salmon. farm raised is just fine, trust me. and from what i've observed, most people prefer farm raised, if they can even tell the diference. for this I would recoment glazing the salmon in some fasion. They can be seared off on a grill ahead of time, and then when it's time for them to be served, the glaze is brushed on and they are put under a broiler. at work we use 4 parts grainy mustard, 4 parts dijon, 2 parts soy sauce, and 1 part honey, for a mustard glaze. we serve it with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beens in buerre blanc. anyway..... what cut of veal? i would recomend a braise or roast- elegent, better to prepare for a croud, ect. braised veal shanks would be a great choice, not necessarily osso buco, though. they could maybe be braised with some paprika, dry mustard, whole perercorns, and a ton of onions..... cook until the onions break down... add some beef stock.... strain the sauce, serve with polenta(not the hard kind, after it's been cooled and re-cooked, rather, the poraigey sort, or even better yet, creamy grits- 4 parts whole milk, 2 parts chicken stock, 1 part heavy cream, 2 parts grits. stir the grits in gradually, season with tobasco sauce at the end.... in a staab(cast iron dish) spoon in a portion of grits, some glazed veggies(maybe, pearl onions, carrots oblique cut, and maybe some celery too... place the shank on top of the grits(you know, so it's kind of leaning half on, half off.... laddle enough of the sauce to kind of glace everything, and pop in the oven until the sauce it mostly gone. all the individual components could be prepped ahead of course; the shank and veggies could be held cold/room temp, but the grits would have to be kept warm, though. hope this helped some. like i said, i'm thinking what works best at work. i've never personally done catering, but i've worked in restraunts lone enough to know what would work with this and what wouldn't.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ashwood

      There is nothing nastier than farm raised salmon and I find all salmon to be pretty nasty but there is no way to disguise the muddy weed flavor of farm raised salmon. Go with the wild if you must have it.

      1. re: Candy

        I agree with Candy. Farmed salmon is pretty awful, mushy texture, strange off-flavors. I would serve it to people I didn't care about, but no-one else. If the OP wants wild salmon, be aware that the season for authentic wild salmon is coming to an end.

        1. re: cheryl_h

          yes, and in my local grocery store yesterday wild salmon was $29 a pound!!! In California it has been particularly expensive this year due presumably to supply and fisheries issues.

          That said, I would never replace wild with farmed, out of concern for the oceans (those escaping toxins are bad for other species too, not just for wild salmon) and becase of the taste, nor would I eat farmed at a catered event. I've gone so far as to request that farmed salmon not be served at any of the catered meals that my workplace sometimes organizes for meetings.

          Thus, if some folks have concerns about veal, and some folks have the type of concern I do about farmed salmon, I'd say you will either end up spending a fortune on your wedding dinner (to get wild salmon as an option), or you might have some unhappy guests...might want to rethink the mains...

        2. re: Candy

          Please, please, please, do not get farm-raised salmon. Farm-raised salmon is dyed, has more toxins than wild salmon, and salmon that escapes from farms threaten the native wild stocks of salmon. Most importantly, there IS a taste difference; wild salmon is SO much better in so many ways.

          1. re: grubn

            As for taste, I would suggest that true salmon fanciers would agree with you, but I agree with the observation that most people tend to prefer farm-raised precisely for its less bold flavor and mushier texture, and that is why farm-raised salmon is so omnipresent.

            1. re: Karl S

              All right, I'm recognizing that I'm a bit sensitive about this subject . . . but, there are so many other types of fish out there that are milder/less rich, etc., I would implore anyone who does not like wild salmon to choose some fish other than salmon altogether rather than buying farm-raised salmon.

      2. how many people are you preparing for? I would have different recommendations for 35 or 235..

        2 Replies
          1. re: isadore

            Are you (you meaning friends, family, etc) doing all the cooking or are you working w/ a caterer but just need help deciding specific preparations? What time of year is your wedding?

            Poached salmon is lovely and can be served at room temp. or even slightly chilled. Can be brightened w/ a salsa verde, salsa, or some sort of sauce. Sides depend on the season...

        1. Who's doing the cooking, and how have they suggested preparing the dishes, and sides?

          1. I would be careful about making veal a main choice, as I know many people who refuse to eat veal for several reasons. It might be safer to choose beef or chicken.

            1. umm..... guys, are you aware that probably 90% of the salmon on the market is farmed? I won't dispuite that some is nasty, but others are more than just fine. If i remember correctly, it has something to do with where they're farmed. Something along the lines of water temperature. I think that the warmer water ones, mainly farmed in chili have less fat, and a different flavor. hmmm..... will have to ask my chef tommorow; i can't remember atm...

              1. To answer your question more directly, I would suggest you be careful about serving any flesh that is very lean when catering a large crowd*, because it does not hold up well to being held over or under heat during service. The more skin and fat (and bone) the flesh has, the better able it is to withstand such treatment. That's why, for example, boneless chicken breast is so rightfully reviled at wedding receptions (and why duck breast is the way to go instead along those lines).

                For the veal, I might suggest a rolled and stuffed breast of veal. The stuffing will add moisture and breast is not as lean as loin, IIRC.

                For the salmon, you'd need to know what kind you're getting to assess how lean or fatty it is. Salmon is never mean and lean, but types vary. Grilled salmon is wonderful, but it's not normally done for catering a large event unless you have a huge space for simultaneous grilling. Poaching (true poaching, under a simmer) would seem to be more feasible because the fish can be held in merely warm liquid as service is prepped.

                * A large crowd that is eating simultaneously requires changes to cooking that are not needed for an individual restaurant table or home cooking for a small group. When you have to cook and serve en masse, it dramatically distorts options for good food. That's why catering is so different from restaurant and home cooking.

                1. wow -- cooking for 200 is a lot! I think salmon could be lovely and like the suggestion made by Ashwood, to sear the fillets off and then glaze just before serving. I also agree that wild salmon has more flavour.

                  Have you thought about serving everything cold/room temp?

                  With one exception, my mother did all the cooking for our garden wedding dinner (65 people) and we decided to serve everything cold, and to serve it family style rather than buffet. We did a variety of salads & breads, cold roast pork and cold poached salmon. The salmon was the only thing that she didn't make and it was the only disaster of the meal I'm very sad to say.

                  For dessert, we did a buffet with 10 different cakes & tarts, and a groaning board of cheeses, one (Stinking Bishop) so smelly it perfumed the entire marquee.

                  1. thank you for all your interest and help. to clarify, this is being catered, but we are not confident in the caterer's ability to come up with an exciting dish. thus, we want to give sample dishes for them to attempt...

                    1. My suggestion is for wine selection: once you find your two entree preparations, invite 10-12 people over and have everyone bring a bottle of their favorite wine in a certain price point (for us, it was $10-15). Make the meal, taste all the wines and have guests help choose your wine offerings for the reception. We were invited to one of these while engaged and had so much fun we did it ourselves. It was a great way to choose the wines and test the dishes. And best of all, it was the most fun we had making a decision regarding the wedding.

                      1. if it's being catered you may try veal medallions in a crushed pistachio crust. it's yummy and for 200 with a jus it avoids the veal drying out..

                        1. -- Perhaps a white fish would appeal to more people? i find many people who like fish do not necessarily even like salmon.

                          As for the veal, I think that is a very elegant idea, but does push the envelope in terms of comfort zone for many people. Lamb would be my choice, but how is that any less discomforting for baby animal huggers? I guess it is a fine line between trying to be elegant --not going the predictable route, and not appealing to the widest possible audience.


                          Buffalo (lean, yummy and not predictable)
                          fillet au sole

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Feed Me

                            I would think veal would have wider appeal than lamb (and I say that as a lover of lamb).