Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 23, 2010 09:13 AM

what's your go-to impressive, but not tedious, dinner?

my cookbooks are all packed up in preparation for a move and i'm itching to cook something new. the boyfriend is a little less adventurous in tastes but willing to push the envelope. ideas?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well you are going to get far more exotic ideas from these folks than you are from me, but I have always impressed people with Swiss Steak. It's easy, fairly cheap and doesn't take a lot of chef time. Serve it with rice. It is great for left overs but there probably won't be any.

    I always like a braise. They are always good. Another example would be Chicken Cacciatore.

    Swiss Steak


    round steak (≈ 2 1/2 pounds), tenderized
    1 tsp garlic powder
    Salt and pepper
    Flour, for dusting
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    3 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
    2 medium onion, cut into strips
    2 medium bell pepper, cut into strips


    Cut steak into serving-size pieces. Season, to taste, with garlic powder and salt and pepper. Dust meat with flour.

    Brown both sides of meat in vegetable oil. Transfer to Dutch oven.

    Combine garlic, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and 1 tomato-can measure of water. Pour over steak and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 to 3 hours.

    Season, to taste.

    You can cook this in a slow-cooker. Low heat on a slow cooker is about 200 degrees F and high heat on a slow cooker is about 300 degrees F. Use Kitchen Bouquet to darken.

    Note: to ensure tenderness, it is necessary to have the butcher run the round steak through a cuber or you can use a 48 blade tenderizer.

    You may need to add a slurry of flour and water at the end to thicken. My wife likes to add a can of golden mushroom soup at the beginning. It thickens and cuts some of the tomato.

    You can add any herbs and spices you like. Italian seasoning or thyme works well. Mushrooms are a good addition too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Hank Hanover

      Thanks for sharing this. Someone mentioned it recently (maybe in-laws?), and I was curious to try it.

      1. re: ChristinaMason

        I added some things to the recipe so you may want to check it again if you are a stickler for following recipes.

    2. Pork chops with dijon cream sauce.

      dredge chops in seasoned flour and pan fry per usual. Remove from pan and hold.

      pour off cooking fat and add some fresh butter/oil to pan and sautee minced onion until translucent. Add some sage and then deglaze pan with white wine and scape up fond. Add a splort of dijon mustard and finish with cream. Pour over chops.

      I usually make this with roasted green beans and rice, sometimes egg noodles.

      3 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        I make a similar dish with chicken breast, pounded thin and dusted w/flour, plus the addition of mushrooms during the sauteeing and a healthy squeeze (or six) of fresh lemon juice.

        1. re: weezycom

          cAn you be more specific of the proportions of dijon and cream?

          1. re: weezycom

            Yum! My grandma would make chops like this, only she would add some minced dill pickle with the mustard.

          2. If you're serving people who will eat veal, loin veal chops about 3/4 in thick sautéed and topped with sautéed mushrooms and pine nuts, with saffron rice and a nice sharply-dressed dark green salad, arugula or watercress. Chocolate pots de creme as dessert (you can serve them warm if pushed for time).

            1. duck legs confit. dry marinate in fridge for a few days, then cook overnight in very low oven, in lard or olive oil if you don't have duck fat in your freezer. they hold and reheat beautifully.

              1. It's far from unusual, but everyone seems to love Tuscan chicken, which is just browned chicken parts (twice-cooked....start them in the oven, plain, and finish them stovetop.) braised with sliced zucchini, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, good black olives in a white wine finished with a little tomato paste, butter and demiglace (which I buy at the grocery). served with buttered penne/parmesan and a green salad with grated blue cheese, this is winnerwinner chicken dinner.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mamachef

                  This looks good; could you link to or paraphrase a recipe?

                  1. re: mamachef

                    OMG, I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to answer this; just re-checked the thread and saw you here. Sure, to serve four nicely or three very generously:
                    1 chicken, 3&1/2-4 lbs., cut in serving pieces
                    olive oil
                    smashed minced garlic
                    2 med. sliced zucchini
                    1 heaping cup sliced mushroooms (portobella, baby bellas, whatever's on hand)
                    1 can artichoke hearts, drained (can also use bottoms)
                    1 cup kalamata olives or italian oil-cured olives
                    1 cup dry white wine
                    2 tbsp. tomato paste
                    3 tbsp. demiglace
                    2-3 tbsp cold butter
                    salt and pepper, dried Italian herbs if desired (or fresh, chopped, if you have on hand)
                    Just begin by preheating oven to 375. Quickly saute garlic and shallots in oil; remove when transparent. Make sure chicken is well-dried, and saute until well browned, about 20 minutes total (should do in two batches to ensure browning.) Remove to large baking dish. In drippings, saute veggies, and when crisp-tender, add wine, paste, demiglace and whisk well. Incorporate butter until sauce is slightly thickened; taste for salt and pepper and pour over chicken. Bake 30 minutes until juices run clear; while chicken is baking, boil salted water for penne; then toss with butter or olive oil and a few tbsp. pasta water, top with a little shredded parmesan or reggiano. Toss spring mix with vinaigrette and grate decent blue cheese on large hole of box grater over; dust with chopped toasted nuts of any kind.

                    1. re: mamachef

                      So you do start on the stove and finish in the oven, contrary to what you wrote the first time?

                      1. re: pdxgastro

                        Thanks for catching that: No. When I'm in a hurry, I've half-baked the chicken and finished it stovetop for crisping the skin, then oven again to finish.