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Need a classic dinner party dish

I throw a dinner for 6 every Christmas. The last few years, I've gone classic and it has been great. I did the full blown Julia Child Beef Bourguignon (with her Caesar and her Chocolate Mousse), I did an amazing Lamb Shank I do over Polenta; last year I did Coq Au Vin... I could repeat or do one of my standards but was wondering if anyone had any ideas of something appropriate I could do. Just need some ideas, I am running dry as of late!

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  1. what kind of protein are you thinking?
    Do you serve family style, buffet or individually plated?

    How about something duck? Confit+seared breasts or a la orange
    A fish dish? Whole fish baked in a salt crust? en croute?
    Beef Wellington
    Sole meuniere
    standing rib roast
    game hens

    1. Do you already have starters/sides in mind or will you build those around the main once you've decided?

      Some ideas;
      Moroccan lamb tagine
      roasted salmon
      braised short ribs with polenta or mashed potatoes
      rack of lamb
      pork tenderloin in mustard cream sauce

      4 Replies
        1. re: perk

          I am a huge fan of Suzanne Goin's Short Ribs from her Lucques Sunday Supper cookbook - oh my! :) But am open to other recipes! A friend tells me the recipe from the Balthazar cookbook is also excellent.

          1. re: Tom P

            I do a port, wine and honey short rib. It's delicious. I think the recipe is on egullet by a poster named Marlene. It is the best short rib recipe I've tried.

          2. re: perk

            Seconded on the short ribs. What about a nice risotto with the short ribs?

        2. Classic Xmas to me is standing prime rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, potato gratin with Gruyere cheese, creamed spinach, trifle with pound cake, cognac cream and raspberries. You can augment with salad, apps, if you like. Nothing screams holiday luxury like a prime rib roast. For 6 people, I would suggest a 3 rib roast from the "small" loin end of the rib. You can do it very simply or with a salt crust, or horseradish sauce, etc. Let me know if interested in recipes.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            Diane, I am certianly interested in all of your recipes for the menu you suggested. Sounds absolutely mouth watering!

            1. re: Wtg2Retire

              Prime Rib Roast - the most important item to get right is the right piece of meat. Talk to your meat market and order a 3 rib roast from the small end - ie the loin end of the roast. Have them remove the chine bone and re-tie for easier carving. Make a dry rub using kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, crushed rosemary, lots of garlic and some paprika (preferably Hungarian - hot or mild to your taste). Rub roast well with dry rub, let sit overnight in fridge. Remove 2 hours before roasting, bring to room temp. Preheat oven to 450 F. Grease a low ridged roasting pan, place roast on rack, slice a couple onions horizontally and attach to eye of meat with wooden toothpicks. Roast at 450 for 20-30 min, lower heat to 375 F, roast 15-20 min/lb. to interior temp of 120 for med rare. Loosely tent with foil and let rest 15-20 min before carving.

              While roast is resting, bake Yorkshire puddings -
              Yorkshire Pudding - Ingredients
              1 teaspoon kosher salt
              1 cup all-purpose flour
              1 1/4 cups milk
              3 eggs, beaten
              2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
              1/4 cup reserved pan fat from Roast Beef or use olive oil or melted unsalted butter
              Sift the salt and the flour into a large bowl. Add half the milk and all the eggs into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then the thyme. Cover; let batter sit at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes, ideally 45 minutes.

              Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Divide the rendered beef fat or oil, 1/4 cup total, between a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin or 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray. Heat in oven until the fat is almost smoking hot. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any fat drippings - this will help prevent any oven fires!

              Uncover batter and whisk one more time. Pour batter into each cup, about 3/4 full and immediately place back into the oven. The batter will sizzle when being poured into the hot fat. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown in color. Turn oven off and leave puddings in the oven for just 5 more minutes to help set. Remove puddings and serve while hot and puffed.

              Potato Gratin - tip, make ahead, you can reheat while Yorkshire pudding bakes

              1 1/2 cups heavy cream
              1 sprig fresh thyme
              2 garlic cloves, chopped
              1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
              2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
              Salt and freshly ground black pepper
              1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling

              Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

              In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

              While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

          2. Great ideas so far, everyone thanks! I was avoiding Rib Roast (perfect choice) as we do a big beef roast on Christmas Day itself. This is a sit down dinner I serve myself. (Christmas is more buffet at 16 people)

            Funny, we've been doing this dinner almost ten years now and I've tried a lot of these. So far I am thinking Cassoulet, which I love. But I've never tried Beef Wellington. These guys are not fish guys or I'd go for the Bouillabaise!

            And yes, I will build around the main dish.

              1. How about suffed veal breast roast? You can prepare it Italian style with a spinach ground meat forcemeat stuffing. It would be terrific to prepare in advance and reheat. Would pair really well with one side dish of some roasted brussels sprouts, EVOO and hazelnuts and a pasta of some type (gnocchi?). Let me know if you want some recipes,

                1. A crown roast of pork with a brilliant savory stuffing center is classic and impressively beautiful.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rcallner

                    Saddle of rabbit stuffed with prunes.

                  2. Osso Buco and risotto.

                    1. Chicken Marbella or Veal Prince Orloff with rice pilaf or polenta, roasted Brussels sprouts or asparagus as a side. Individual figgy puddings for dessert.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: greygarious

                        Paella! It is not entirely classic, but it's perfect for 6 people. Do a really traditional version with a mix of proteins, plus piquillo peppers or red bell peppers, if you can't get piquillos, white beans, such as canellini/great northern or large limas, bomba rice or any medium grain rice, saffron de la mancha, etc. My mouth is watering already. You can serve a couple of simple tapas and a green salad with oranges, pomegranate seeds, red onions and a simple citrus vinaigrette, plus a flan/creme caramel or brulee for dessert, along with wintery fruits.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I've never had Chicken Marbella but I hear it's a very polarizing dish. However, CI just published an updated version that looks intriguing - I'm hoping to try it soon. Here's the paraphrased recipe:

                          1/3cup pitted green olives , rinsed
                          1/3cup pitted prunes
                          3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                          4 garlic cloves , peeled
                          2tablespoons capers , rinsed
                          3 anchovy fillets , rinsed
                          1/2teaspoon dried oregano
                          1/2teaspoon pepper
                          1/4teaspoon kosher salt
                          Pinch red pepper flakes

                          2 1/2 - 3pounds bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts and/or leg quarters, trimmed
                          Kosher salt and pepper
                          2teaspoons olive oil
                          3/4cup low-sodium chicken broth
                          1/3cup white wine
                          1/3cup pitted green olives , rinsed and halved
                          1tablespoon capers , rinsed
                          2 bay leaves
                          1/3cup pitted prunes , chopped coarse
                          1tablespoon unsalted butter
                          1teaspoon red wine vinegar
                          2tablespoons minced fresh parsley

                          Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pulse paste ingredients in food processor until mostly smooth.
                          Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons salt and season with pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned on the skin side only. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain fat from skillet, leaving a teaspoon behind, and return to medium-low heat.

                          Add 1/3 cup paste to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and fond forms on pan bottom. Deglaze with broth, wine, olives, capers, and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Return chicken to pan, skin side up (skin should be above surface of liquid), and place in oven. Roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

                          Remove skillet from oven and use back of spoon to spread remaining paste over chicken pieces; sprinkle prunes around chicken. Return pan to oven and continue to roast until paste begins to brown, breasts register 160 degrees, and leg quarters register 175 degrees, 7 to 12 minutes longer.

                          Transfer chicken to serving platter. Remove bay leaves from sauce and whisk in butter, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with remaining parsley.

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            looks like they amped up the briny flavors while toning down the sweetness, and that's precisely what i like to do with mine.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              They've overly-tweaked the recipe, an M.O. that has been occurring more frequently as time passes. It's simple enough to reduce the sugar in the original Silver Palate recipe. I did, and I have a sweet tooth. I'd never had it but could tell that there was at least twice as much sugar as I wanted. My other change, the second time I made it, was to do as they did and use a skillet to brown the skin side before the oven baking. I would NOT want to omit the marinating step. I just picked off the solids and patted the skin dry before sauteeing. Also, I prefer to use all chicken thighs.

                        2. This beef tenderloin with port wine sauce is excellent, and impossible to screw up. You do have to salt it uncovered in the fridge for a day, but it will be perfect if you follow the directions. The tenderloin will cost about $100, but you won't regret it.


                          1. Cornish game hens. To be honest, mine aren't usually super-duper delicious but they are so darned festive. And a better cook than I might have a better outcome...

                            1. Tom: Beef Wellington is a very good idea. It is my "go to" at this time of year. I use Julia Chlld's recipe, with its myriad steps (ok, I use frozen puff pastry). You have to start it several days ahead of time. But by the time of your big day, it is all done - you just have to pop it in the oven. It looks so elegant, so it screams for really simple classic sides. (I go 100% Julia and do her fried potatoes, bercy carrots and green beans). All this means that you can spend more time with your guests. And the cleanup afterwords is a cinch!

                              1. My suggestion isn't original by far but we have a family tradition to have beef stroganoff,( the spellcheck says I'm wrong), for Christmas Eve.