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need impressive fool proof dinner idea for company using new Dutch Oven

I just got my first Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens (a 5qt round and a 7.5qt oval) I invited my aunt and uncle over for dinner on Friday night and I really wanted to make something nice using my new toy. Any ideas of something I can't mess up too bad that would be impressive for company. They go out to eat a lot more than I do, my aunt enjoys cooking too and I want to kind of show off a bit but I have never used one of these pans before. Also, they are red wine drinkers and I think I would like it to be a beef or lamb dish of some kind. Any ideas? Any good recipes online that you know of?

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  1. braised short ribs would be finger licking yummy
    as well as braised lamb shanks w/orzo
    osso bucco

    2 Replies
    1. re: luswei

      I love all those ideas...I will look for some recipes online unless you have any to recommend. I love winter foods! What would you serve with the short ribs?

      1. re: tamhud4

        Really rich and creamy mashed potatoes.

    2. My first thought would be a lamb stew--something with lots of garlic, rosemary, and red wine.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Nettie

        mmmm that sounds yummy too....and I know my aunt would love that...any good recipes to reccommend?

        1. re: tamhud4

          search this board for either short ribs or lamb -- there's a wealth of specifics, like the short ribs braised in Chimay by Ms. Goin that has been discussed alot.

          enjoy your new tools!

          1. re: pitu

            thanks for the suggestion..I have been looking at the home cooking board and there are a ton of recipe suggestions...new to the boards and finding lots of good info!

          2. re: tamhud4

            Here's one Tuscan lamb stew recipe that I've made and enjoyed:
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec.... Have fun with your new dutch ovens!

          3. re: Nettie

            ....served with creamy, garlicky polenta....

          4. I am willing to make this the day before...in fact, with two small children at home, that may be the preferred way to have dinner guests. Make the dinner the night before after the children are in bed! So I think a good braising or stew recipe would work well if made the day ahead. I can't wait to start making some of these dishes mentioned above with my new dutch ovens! YUM

            1. Goulash
              coq au vin
              boeuf bourgignon
              (and of course all the above mentioned)

              1. Well, since you have TWO new dutch ovens, why not braised pot roast in one and braised cabbage in the other. Cooks on the home cookin' board raved about Molly Stevens braised cabbage. http://www.mollystevenscooks.com/reci...

                1. Cassoulet.. We LOVED this recipe!! We made it just fine in our 7 qt Le Creuset. :)

                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                  --Dommy!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dommy

                    Ditto on cassoulet - I inagurated my new Dutch oven with one at Christmas. However, you will want to save 2 days for cooking, not including the 2 days for making duck confit! I was quite sure the pot was well seasoned after that, though. :)

                    1. re: Dommy

                      I echo the cassoulet suggestion. It is a labour of love and such a wonderful dish for a winter meal. Hmmmm. I need a new Dutch oven! Bon appetit!

                    2. I suggest chioppino. Not sure of the spelling. It's a rich, tomato based seafood stew. I use a combination of Rachael Ray's recipe and the one from the Tadich Grill cookbook. I make it every Christmas Eve in my Dutch oven for my version of the feast of seven fishes Italian tradition. It's quick, easy, delicious, and visually appealing with the mussels peaking out of the bowls. With crusty bread, it is a meal fit for company.

                      My other suggestion would be Beef Braised in Barolo served over polenta. This is an America's Test Kitchen recipe that is available on-line although you must sign in (it's free). www.americastestkitchen.com. I made it just before Thanksgiving for my meat loving son and it was wonderful.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ETRIXIE

                        Wow, now I am really confused because I LOVE anything seafood and so does my husband and my aunt and uncle too...but...is Chioppino a slow cooking dish that makes good use of the Dutch Oven? I would think that seafood would cook really quickly...maybe I would make that another night instead...really kind of craving the long cooking method for the beef. I think I have settled on Braised Short Ribs...now just trying to decide on best recipes and sides, apps, dessert. I would imagine the other items should be fairly light because of the heavy entree? Although, I would prefer the dessert be something rich too I think. I was thinking of maybe some sort of seafood for an appetizer like seared scallops or something like that? I noticed Bobby Flay did a surf and turf with Sticky Short Ribs and Braised Scallops in a creamy sauce...he served them together which didn't really appeal to me but I wondered it the scallops might be a nice appetizer? quick and fairly light?

                        1. re: tamhud4

                          I seem to always recommend this recipe for short ribs, but it is very easy and delicious...and definitely make it a day ahead, refrigerate and re-heat.

                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                          1. re: tamhud4

                            You're correct. Cioppino is not a low simmer all day kind of preparation. The stock part with clams doesn't require a lot of time and the shellfish and fish requires just moments. However, a heavy pot is still good for temperature and heat management, and what a lovely pot you have in which to make it!

                        2. use the beer braised beef ribs recipe from the hammersly's bistro cookbook, or the beef in barolo (or do they call it "italian pot roast?") recipe from cooks illustrated- available for free on the americas test kitchen website.

                          both are practically idiot proof. but throw a little butter into the sauce reduction at the end on hammersly's to smooth out the sauce.

                          also, both are better done a day ahead, as it makes degreasing them ALOT easier, and both reheat great.

                          1. A braised beef dish like short ribs or carbonnade will be better the next day. Just add a bit of vinegar or pimenton when it is reheated. Precede with a winter salad and a simple but warm dessert like a cornmeal-plum crostata. Easy, comfortable, and tasty.

                            1. this is all great advice...i am so glad I found this forum...I am hooked! I used to love to cook and entertain for friends but I was young and couldn't afford to go all out at the time. Now I have two babies and have not been really cooking for a while...just fast, no thought involved food, and no time to read my cooking mags or favorite websites...just starting to get my sanity back and want to try to start getting back in the kitchen. Especially now that I will be entertaining adults who may appreciate the effort rather than a bunch of my husbands buddies who are hanging out watching football. I want to start trying to have a dinner party for a few close friends maybe once a month. I enjoy the planning process as much as the actual event!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tamhud4

                                Have Fun, and let us know how it turned out!

                                I find the dutch oven to be one of my most used kitchen items, especially in the winter months.

                                1. re: tamhud4

                                  The Daniel Boulud braised short ribs recipe is fantastic, as is the celery root puree he serves them over (skip the braised celery). The short ribs are best made the day before, as per the instructions. It lets the flavor develop and also lets you skim off all of the fat.

                                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                2. pardon my naivete (sp?) but I notice a lot of the braised beef and osso bucco dishes have either sides with cheese based sauces or are finished by adding cheese to the sauce (what is Gremolata anyway?) like gratins or pastas with cheese,etc. Wouldn't these types of sides be sort of heavy with the dish? And it seems sort of strange to me to mix a cheese based dish with a meat gravy type dish? Do you more experienced cooks do this a lot and is there some reason they go good together? Like cheese and fruit do or Pork and fruit based sides? Just curious.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: tamhud4

                                    I wouldn't serve a cheese based sauce with a braised beef. The recipe I posted above is served with a pureed celery root that is a perfect foil to the richness of the braising sauce. I usually serve it all with a roasted green veggie such as asparagus or brussel sprouts.

                                    1. re: tamhud4

                                      Certain gratins are quite rich - depending on the type of cheese that is used and amount of cream. Pasta gratins tend to soak up a lot of sauce, and it can merely become a light coating for it. To each his own. I don't know what inspires Bobby Flay and other chefs to create two dishes which seem rich (noticing your post from above - sticky short ribs with scallops in creamy sauce - sounds good!). For some it could be creating a balanced plate of meat-fat-starch ratio(of course needed to be rounded out with salad or vegetable, sometimes served in the first course). The fat is cooked out of the meat and replaced elsewhere in the meal. They may not be as rich as they seem. It could also be a wine pairing thing. For instance Gruyere is also great with a dry, light to medium bodied red.

                                      Edit: It is all personal preference. Sometimes with a rich meal, I find that I am eating less, and become more satisfied!

                                      1. re: tamhud4

                                        Gremolata is a mixture of lemon zest, parsley and garlic that you stir into some Italian dishes (like osso buco) at the end of cooking. It gives some nice fresh, bright flavors that complement the heavy stews--kind of like what you were saying!

                                      2. last Sunday I made my family's favorite meal. Pot roast. The reciepe I have been using for years comes out The Silver Palate Cook book. For the cut of meat I buy brisket. This an excellent receipe and not too dificult to do.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: D.Bernstein

                                          A question about the Silver Palate pot roast.The recipe calls for bacon. I don't use bacon in cooking, and was wondering if I can substitute smoked paprika to get the smokey taste, or does the bacon serve another purpose in the recipe?
                                          Should I proceed without the bacon, or can you suggest an alternative?
                                          Thanks

                                          1. re: bxgirl

                                            I don't cook with regular bacon either, but in many dishes I find turkey bacon lends a nice smoky flavor. I love smoked paprika but don't think it would give enough deep, smoky flavor.

                                            1. re: doctor_mama

                                              Thank you for the response, and the suggestion about turkey bacon. Sounds like a great idea.

                                            2. re: bxgirl

                                              Be carefull here. A little bit of bacon does add a little special flavor, but the meal won't be a disaster with out it. However, it the recipe says to cut up the bacon and cook it first, then remove the bacon and cook your onions, celery, carrots in the bacon grease, you need to replace the grease. You can just use olive oil, but you will need something to replace the bacon grease.

                                          2. Well...here is the final menu...thanks so much for all the advice and tips and ideas. After reading all these posts and looking at recipes on the web and in my Fine Cooking Mags and then tweaking things a bit for my own cravings and tastes and the time I have (don't have...with 2 under 2 in the house!), this is what I have decided on.

                                            Main Dish: Molly Stevens recipe for Wine Marinated Braised Short Ribs (FC March 2006) I substituted the Zinfandel for Cabernet Sauvignon and increased the ribs to about 8lbs.

                                            Appetizer: Pan-Seared Peppered Scallops with Orange Soy Glaze (liked the idea of the orange in the sauce as there is orange zest in the short rib marinade too...not sure if it even matters but it sounded good) And my hubby said he was craving steamed mussels so we are throwing some of those in for good measure, sauted in a buttery wine sauce (something he will do)

                                            Salad: Baby Spinace and Belgian Endive with Walnuts, dried cranberries and crubled blue cheese...a recipe from epicurious.com...I will most likely add crumbled bacon on top...why not?

                                            Side: Roasted Root Vegetable Ragout (epicurious.com) and not sure if I need it but if I do a starch maybe just a bed of plain jasmine rice with the ragout on top and then the ribs?

                                            Bread: I wanted a really rustic bread, crunchy on the outside, chewy inside...but...I was at the store at closing time and ended up with a big loaf of french bread instead....no time to shop tomorrow so french bread it is.

                                            Dessert: My hubby saw me trying to come up with "made from scratch" dessert ideas...but I wanted something decadent and he suggested just letting that part of the menu go and getting a variety of small pastries from the bakery. He said, "For your sanity and mine...can you just concentrate on the main meal and leave the desert up to somebody else...you don't have to do everything yourself" So...I did that and he was right, I am not going to be trying to go crazy to make dessert on top of everything else, while I am alone all day with my two babies and one other I am babysitting for the day and trying to throw a dinner party!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: tamhud4

                                              Where did you find the short rib recipe? I plan on cooking some up for the football game Sunday

                                              1. re: shaebones

                                                In Find Cooking Magazine...the March 2006 Issue. They have a few good braising recipes in thereand they all look great. Also, some of the ones referred to above were easy to find on the web too.

                                              2. re: tamhud4

                                                This sounds fantastic. I had really good luck with a chicken braise from fine cooking - I believe in the November/December issue.

                                                1. re: HWiley

                                                  What sounds fantastic? The menu I am doing? Or the rib recipe I chose? I am not a chef by any means and had no idea if all the stuff goes together "properly" but it sounds good, doesn't it?

                                                2. re: tamhud4

                                                  Enjoy your party, and welcome to Chowhound! I agree; it's a great forum. Just as you allowed yourself the freedom of not taking on home-made dessert, I wanted to pass along a fantastic recipe for a sour cherry tart posted here by Caitlin McGrath: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... . It takes about 15 minutes of active prep time, and is really wonderful. I use jarred sour cherries.

                                                  Another great great use of your new dutch oven is the much lauded no-knead bread. I posted about it here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... but many many others (with far more bread making expertise than I've got) have also posted about it on other chowhound threads. If you have all the ingredients, you could get the dough started tonight, and bake it in the morning. You'd have bread exactly as you described--crisp crusty outside and soft inside. It's ridiculously simple to make, very tasty, and incredibly sense-of- accomplishment- inducing.

                                                  Have a wonderful party, and do report back!

                                                3. I did see that bread mentioned a few times while reading some of the threads but didn't know what type of bread it was. I didn't make it this time but will try it soon! And that Sour Cherry Tart would have been great too....next time. Thanks for the advice though.

                                                  1. RESULTS: FANTASTIC DINNER PARTY !!!!!

                                                    Just wanted to let you all know that the dinner was unbelievable! Better than going to a restaurant !!!! The menu was perfect! I had never made ANY of the things on the menu....so probably not the best idea for a dinner party but so glad I took the chance because there was NOTHING left after we ate! My Aunt and Uncle...who dine out a lot and my Aunt is a great cook...loved everything and said it was the best dinner anyone had ever made for them. It's all in the planning I think that it went so smoothly and I appreciate all the help I got in planning from this forum. I will post links to all the recipes in another post in case anyone wants to copy what turned out to be a great menu. My aunt also brought the makings for Grapefruit Vodka martinis which I had never had before either and what a great drink that was. Refreshing and light before a heavy meal....and great together with the seafood appetizer that also had the citrus based sauces. All in All a great night, great food, great conversation....and all at home while my two babies slept and I didn't have to rush home for the sitter!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: tamhud4

                                                      Fantastic! We'd love to see a full report on the menu (not that you'll have time, with two babies!).