what's your go-to impressive, but not tedious, dinner?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
Parmesan chicken - pound out a chicken breast until it's about 1/2 to 1/4 in thick on all sides and salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, then beaten egg and then a mixture of ground parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Pan fry for about five minutes on each side until golden brown. A good accompaniment is an heirloom tomato salad that's just heirloom tomatoes sliced in wedges, a sprinkle of sea salt, a couple of cracks of pepper and a nice fruit olive oil on top.
Lion Head Meatballs. They are a Chinese dish, but taste incredibly homey and together with the broth, served over rice with a little chilli sauce on the side, they are always gratefully received. Deeply savoury flavours. Most recipes seem to cook them for around 2 hours but you can get away with one. And minced pork is pretty inexpensive. Try the Use Real Butter website for a starter recipe. No prob to omit the fancy mushroom. But make sure your ginger is fresh, and use lots of it.
I agree, ipse, mine are also probably not what one would consider "push the envelope" but they are delicious and easy:
Grilled rib eyes or sirloins, baked stuffed potatoes, wedge salad w/homemade bleu cheese
Roast chicken (whole or parts) dinner with roasted vegs, au jus sauce and garlic mashed potatoes
Grilled swordfish with greek salsa, served over a mache salad and couscous
Seared scallops over linguine with red pepper pesto sauce (any pesto is good actually)
Slow roasted (or grilled) butterflied leg of lamb, rice pilaf, roasted tomatoes w/white beans & garlic
Dry rubbed pork tenderloin, grilled or pan roasted, mango salsa, black bean & corn salad
Not exactly pushing the envelope either, but this roast chicken with rosemary and hazelnuts is wonderful:
It's super simple - it just takes about 15 minutes in the oven, not the 3 minutes the recipe claims.
I just served this last night with roasted green beans with rosemary salt and a little rice to soak up the juices.
I find that most people, including myself, stick with homey dishes as a go to...I like to do stufffed chicken parmesan with fresh tomato sauce, blackened fish or seafood served with rice or pasta, a roast chicken, pork ribs of some sort, a chuck roast with veggies, etc.
I love to bake so I'd serve some sort of tart, cake or meringue with fruit
Oh, that reminds me, this is a really good, fairly easy braise:
-3 chicken leg quarters, cut into thighs and legs (about 1 1/3 lbs.)
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-1/3 tsp. paprika
-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
-3 Tbsp. butter
1 (8 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained (not marinated)
-1/2 lb. mushrooms, thickly sliced (I used button and chanterelles)
-2 Tbsp. flour
-2/3 c. chicken or veggie broth, preferably homemade
-3 tbsp. sherry (white wine or vermouth would also work)
-1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
-2 bay leaves
-pinch saffron, optional
-1 clove minced garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic granules
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in an oven-safe pot or enameled dish. Remove chicken to a plate and sprinkle with paprika.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the pot. Brown the mushrooms on both sides, adding the garlic toward the end. Season with salt and pepper after the mushrooms have released their water.
3. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and cook one minute. Stir in broth, sherry, bay leaves, rosemary, and saffron (if using). Cook stirring until slightly thickened, then add the chicken and drained artichoke hearts to the pot. Cover and bake at 375F for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
4. Remove the lid and pull the chicken pieces out of the sauce to rest on top of the veggies. Turn on the broiler and re-crisp the chicken skin (and reduce the sauce) for 3 or 4 minutes.
Serve with egg noodles or rice. A sprinkling of fresh parsley is nice here.
Sort of a riff on Coq au Vin of sorts. I have a similar one named for my long-ago boss which call 'Poulet a al Wentzel'. His uses marjoram instead of rosemary., and includes a bit of crumbled sausage for extra flavor. Delicious! I do it start-to-finish in my cast iron fry pan stovetop. Leftovers are even better. Great with mashed red potatoes and green beans.
recipe appears very similar to epi's Fool Proof Grilled Chicken...which is even a bit simpler. I make it all the time. Indeed the brining is important, and particularly if you're having a party, it makes the chicken much more forgiving if you mistreat it (overcook it) on the grill.
My husband calls it "the green chicken", but I think I may borrow the Chimichurri name...sounds better than either "green chicken" or "foolproof" !
Sally Schneider actually has a really nice recipe for seared duck breasts with port reduction sauce in A New Way to Cook. The breasts are rubbed with and marinated in a mixture of black and white peppercorns, allspice, fresh thyme, and grated orange zest. I think it fits your criteria in that it has become something of a go-to when I'm feeling lazy and we're having people over whom my girlfriend has told I will impress (or when cooking for people I don't really care for). It's really autopilot cooking, although not the cheapest dinner.
I'm not actually a fan of the book (most the recipes are a little too precious for me), but this dish is a winner. I usually match it with green beans or other seasonal veggie and a roasted root mash. I can post the recipe later if you're interested.
Clams and mussels always impress as well, although they're not really in season in many places. And talk about "not tedious"---fifteen minutes from walking in the door to feasting.
Traditional Hungarian Chicken Paprikas has never failed to get lots of ooohs and aaaaahs from even the fussiest and least-adventurous eaters whenever I've made it. If you skip the home-made dumplings and serve over buttered or lightly saffroned rice or some tasty egg noodles, it should be pretty no-to-low-fuss. The recipe is an adaptation of the gawd-knows-how-many-generations one I got from my Nana.
What you'll need:
-- 1 whole chicken with giblets
-- some olive oil
-- kosher salt (just to season)
-- 1 red bell pepper (fine dice) - green is fine, too, if you like that sort of thing *heh*
-- 1 white onion (fine dice)
-- 2 stalks celery (fine dice)
-- 4-6 cloves garlic (fine mince) - I like me some garlic! Your mileage may vary.
-- 2 carrots (fine dice) - not traditional, but I like it for the little added bright sweetness
-- 4-7 TBSP Hungarian sweet paprika - I tend to like a lot, plus also use 2X the stock/broth to get more gravy, which is really foodgasmic. Your mileage may vary. If you don't cook w/paprika a lot, you may want to put in the least and add as you like a bit into the cooking process.
-- 2 - 4 cups light chicken stock or chicken broth - depending on how much gravy you like
-- 1/2 - 1 cup sour cream or Middle-eastern yoghurt (depending on the amt. of stock/broth) - the yoghurt adds a little nice zing while still being lovely and rich ... WIN
-- 2 - 4 TBSP Wondra flour (depending on the amt. of stock/broth)
-- egg noodles or rice
Start with a whole chicken and cut into parts (I also skin the breasts, thighs, and legs ... the gravy is plenty rich without the extra fat). Keep the neck, back, and giblets in there, too.
Season the chicken parts lightly with salt and Hungarian sweet paprika (you can get from spice markets or the kind in the can marked "Szeged" will do just fine, too), lightly brown in a big ol' deep skillet (or a dutch oven will work, too, if you don't have a big enough skillet) with a little olive oil on MED-HIGH and reserve.
Now, the veg + aromatics. Lower heat to MED. If you need some more oil for the veggies, add it and sweat them out with a little bit of salt, then add the paprika and coat all the veggies well.
Once that's done, add the stock/broth and all the chicken bits. Bring just to a bubble and lower to SIMMER until the chicken is done, about 45 minutes or so usually, unless your chicken is fairly large.
Pull out the regular chicken parts (leave the innards behind unless you like to eat them. I do ... yum) and cool the liquid before straining it through a fine mesh. Then, return to the pot and bring back up to a boil on MED.
Mix the sour cream (or yoghurt) well with the Wondra in a pyrex cup and temper with hot liquid before whisking into the pot liquid. Bring just to a bubble, lower to SIMMER and return the chicken to the pot to warm it back up.
Serve to yummy noises and gushing praise.
Pretty sure I didn't leave anything out. If you make it, let me know how it turns out!
I like the jambalaya recipe from Craig Claiborn's Southern Cooking cookbook. It's not the cheapest to make, and there is about an hour of prep time, but my guests are impressed to see the mise-en-place when they arrive and have cocktails while I do the cooking in front of them -- about 45 minutes cooking time. The recipe unedited makes a huge amount (24 servings!), so I usually cut it down to a half or a third.
I love doing Thai curries. They're as easy to make as Hamburger Helper, and it's always delicious. The only tricky thing about it is picking up the Thai curry paste. While I have seen Thai curry pastes in almost every grocery store, you're best off picking some up at an Asian grocery. It's much less expensive, and the quality is much higher. I'm most partial to Mae Ploy brand, especially their red and green pastes. While at the Asian grocery, also pick up a can of coconut milk. You just fry up a couple of tablespoons of the curry paste in a little dab of oil (if you don't shake the coconut milk can, the coconut oil rises to the top, just use that) until it starts to smell good, then add the can of coconut milk and whisk to combine. Then, add about 3/4 pound of bite-size pieces of whatever protein you feel like using (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, anything else, it's all good), and simmer until almost done. Then, add 1/2 pound of chopped vegetables (again, whatever you feel like using; carrots and bell peppers are pretty standard here, plus whatever in the crisper is starting to look questionable) and simmer until the vegetables are cooked the way you like. Serve it with steamed jasmine rice on the side, and everyone thinks you're some kind of culinary genius.
Mx equal parts blue cheese and butter, use the butter on fresh corn on the cob.
Try marinading chicken in a Mojo marinade.
juice of 3 limes & 3 oranges
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
Another easy chicken dish is a simple braise with smoked paprika playing a major flavor role. It stews down and is a sweet and soft undernote.
Brown bone-in chicken parts in a bit of olive oil a heavy pan (not breasts) enough for 3 peices per serving so you'll have some leftovers. Cook in batches so they brown on all sides nicely. Remove to a plate.
Assemble: 3 large onions sliced in 1/4" rings, about 1/4 cup smoked Spanish Paprika, and S&P. Pick or buy some fresh herbs, whatever you've/they've got: thyme, parlsey, tarragon, marjoram, etc.
Place one layer of chicken parts in a deep covered casserole. Season lightly with S&P. lay down some sprigs of herbs, then a layer of onion rings. Repeat layers. End with onion rings, and sprinkle with the paprika to cover the onions. Add the cover and bake at 325 for 3 to 4 hours. The onion rings and paprika melt into a sauce with the chicken juices. Ladel out servings, removing any herb stems.
This is an assemble-and-walk-away dish. You can turn the oven even lower (275) and cook it all day if need be. It holds well in a 180 oven for hours if you need to. I serve with fresh steamed veggies and new potatoes or rice.
This is my favorite, easy and impressive recipe --Carmelized Salmon with Cilantro Potato Salad
1 cup homemade mayonnaise (I use Best Foods)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
2 pounds cooked quartered unpeeled new potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 cup sugar, (in a pie tin)
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro sprigs
In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, onion, and celery together. Mix thoroughly. Fold in the new potatoes, carefully not to break up the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Dredge the salmon in the sugar. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, caramelize the salmon for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove from the pan. Place the potato salad in the center of the plate. Lay the salmon against the salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and parsley.
- a hearty wild mushroom ragout served over polenta...
- or my wasabi-sesame tuna steaks
Maple glazed pork roast - take a boneless pork roast (about 1-1/2 lb.), trim excess fat. In a separate bowl, mix approx. 1/3 cup of maple syrup (use the real stuff, if you can!), 2 T. of soy sauce, and 2 T of dijon mustard. Add some dried oregano to the maple mixture.
Take a large onion and chop it into big pieces - placed chopped onion on botton of baking pan. Place roast on top on onions - pour maple mixture over roast. Bake in the over at 350 degrees for about 1-1/4 hours (basting every 20 minutes with the maple mixture). Increase the maple ingredients a little bit to have plenty of left overs to pour on top of the sliced pork roast.
You can also put some baby carrots around the outside of the pork roast and glaze them with the maple mixture, too.
This is so yummy and super simple! Enjoy! :-)
My favorite is mustard chicken:
Grate garlic into some good mustard, add cinnamon and thyme, s+p. Brush onto bone in thighs, with or without skin. roll in breadcrumbs, put in shallow baking dish with a little space in between,dot liberally with butter, bake at 325 for an hour . The flavors, not usually used together, meld beautifully. I serve with buttered noodles or very good jasmine rice ( I like tilda ) and all guests are enthralled.
2 lb. boneless pork roast (not tenderloin), 1 32 oz. can of sauerkraut and one 16 oz. can of sauerkraut (do not drain), 1/2 c. natural applesauce, 1/4 c. brown sugar. Put pork roast in crockpot, add both cans of sauerkraut with their juices, mix in apple sauce and brown sugar. Cover and cook on low all day (10+ hours). When you're ready to eat, just shred the pork with two forks and mix well with the sauerkraut. Serve on top of mashed potatoes and a side of pickled beets and listen carefully for the horse & buggies to be showing up outside your house. Yummy!!!!! If you make this, please let me know. Be warned, however, your house will smell like sauerkraut for at least 24 hours after you finish dinner - it is quite pungent! :-)
I got for a whole baked fish. I looks super nice but It's actually quite easy to make - you just make the sauce, pour it over the fish and bake! This sauce I used for Black Sea Bass turned out quite well. I've also used it for Red Snapper. Of course you don't need to use this on a whole fish - totally can be done on a fillet as well, or even as a marinate for chicken thighs.
Thai Roasted Black Sea Bass
1 (2 pound) whole black sea bass, scaled and cleaned
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
2 limes (1 zested and juiced, 1 cut in half)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 garlic clove, sliced
Preheat oven to 425F.
Rinse the fish and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Place fish in a roasting pan.
In a bowl, mix together the oil, coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, chili flakes, ground coriander, and garlic clove.
Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture over the fish and bake, basting frequently with the reserved mixture, for 25-30 minutes.
To test if the fish is cooked through, a metal skewer should be easily inserted into the fish and, after left in for 5 seconds, should feel warm.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil and a squeeze of lime.
Had a couple coworkers over for dinner Sunday and did a very easy, and very well recieved Italian style shrimp and grits.
Very simple sauce, oil, garlic and fresh basil, added a can of crushed San Marzanos, served over polenta with shrimp quickly seared on the stovetop as I didn't feel like grilling.
Started with a salad of sliced tomatos, smoked mozzarela, and basil oil. Entrees were easily assembled as everyone worked on the salads.