HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Need main for dinner party

Any suggestions?

No lamb or fish please - some are fussy!

It's our turn to host and I'm running out of ideas. Our standard is usually a beef tenderloin but I want something new.

I've been leaning towards trying out SP's Chicken Marbella but after reading a recent thread, have decided maybe not a good idea.

Thanks folks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. More info would be helpful. Like what type of dinner party - casual friend cookout? Colleague dinner party? Family get together? How many people?

    Off the top of my head I would recommend braised short ribs - tis the season. And not many have a better recipe than John Besh. Someone recommended to me here on CH a couple of years ago and I've used it many times. I serve them over polenta and mix up the sides. Here's a link: http://www.esquire.com/features/guy-f...

    1. how many guests and what else are you serving?

      1. My rule is never to try out a new recipe for a party. If you'd like, it would be best to make the Chicken Marbella in advance and see how it turns out and how you like it.

        I would make the beef tenderloin. It may be old to you, but other people will enjoy it as it is something special. Then you will stress less and enjoy your party more.

        1. I love to do braised shortribs. Best done a day in advance and reheated for service, and always a crowd pleaser.

          2 Replies
          1. re: twyst

            We're a group of 7 and while it's a casual get together, I am looking for something elegant.

            I haven't decided on the sides or rest of meal as I like to work around the main.

            I love short ribs also, but have done that a few times, as well as beef bourginoun (sp?)

            1. re: twyst

              twyst, I agree, short ribs (bone in) are always welcome. Yes, do them a day in advance and pull off all the congealed fat, plus they're just better the next day. I put them on buttered noodles and offer fresh Parmesan cheese on the table. The ribs and an interesting large salad really make a nice dinner experience. Serve bread if you must, but with the noodles as a starch, I don't.

            2. Pork tenderloin. Mexican meatloaf. Smoked turkey. Blanquette de Veau. Steak Marsala with Mushrooms. Chicken Enchiladas. I will have to say that I've made the Silver Palate Chicken Marbella a few times and everyone always loves it.

              6 Replies
                1. re: mommystar

                  We have a lamb hater in the group, or rack of lamb would have been my choice.

                  We seem to have a lot of pork tenderloin and would like to do something a little different.
                  Keep 'em coming folks.


                  1. re: millygirl

                    I will say that pork tenderloin and a really well cooked shoulder of pork (butt) bears little resemblance to one another in either flavor or texture....I no longer eat pork tenderloin.

                    1. re: millygirl

                      If you're still open to pork tenderloin, this is delicious and a beautiful presentation: Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Bacon and Apple Riesling Sauce from Food and Wine. Nice use of seasonal ingredients, too. I find stuffing the pork tenderloins whole to be a little fussy, so I usually butterfly, pound flat and roll them.


                      1. re: biondanonima

                        Thanks biondanomina. It sounds interesting. I will check out the link from home this evening. This damn work is gettin' in my way LOL

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          Last night America's Test Kitchen did a "French-style" pork loin (not tenderloin.) Their secret to great flavor that added the fat often missing from pork was to fry sliced garlic until golden in butter, let cool, and then spread onto a loin that had been opened with a double butterfly and then rolled back up. Looked wonderful roasted with apples, onions, garlic, herbs and some white wine.

                  2. Pork roast (not tenderloin) "stuffed" with rosemary and garlic along with potatoes cooked in the same pan until crunchy on the outside. Bitter green on the side.

                    1. Maple glazed, Boneless stuffed quail with a butternut squash puree and some sort of wilted green are something I like to cook this time of year. Just screams fall to me.

                      10 Replies
                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            ...and your recipe? I'd be interested.

                            1. re: Gail

                              no recipe really. buy duck legs and dry rub with aromatics and salt. wrap tightly in plastic and let rest in the fridge about 24 hours. rub off salt and chunks of spices. nestle the pieces in baking dish and cover with duck fat or a combo fat/olive oil. bake in a low oven for 7-8 hours. store in fat til needing to serve. then reheat and run under the broiler to crisp the skin. it's dead easy, and only requires forethought and time.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Really?? It's that simple??

                                Can you provide more detail as to which combo aromatics and amounts?

                                1. re: millygirl

                                  Yep, confit is dead easy and gives such an amazing end product. It just takes a lot of time. I have one thing to add to hotoys post, and that is that ideally you should make your confit a couple of weeks in advance as it "matures" a little as its being stored in the fat and gets better with a little age.

                                  1. re: twyst

                                    Now that could be a problem. I suppose if push comes to shove I could do it this weekend but I'll need to serve a week later.

                                    If you could provide exact details as to when you pull out of salt, etc I would appreciate. This may be the dish I'm looking for! I love DC

                                    1. re: millygirl

                                      "If you could provide exact details as to when you pull out of salt, etc I would appreciate. This may be the dish I'm looking for! I love DC"


                                      He only wipes off the salt and herbs after curing, I recommend rinsing as I have made some really salty confit when I have wiped and not rinsed.

                                      1. re: twyst

                                        I'll check this out this evening. Thanks twyst.

                                  2. re: millygirl

                                    the aromatics totally depend on what else i am serving with the duck. for example, ginger, star anise and ground coriander with orange zest. thyme, mustard seed, garlic, lemon zest.

                                    even though many recipes recommend rinsing the cure off, i don't use buckets of salt, so don't rinse. it also seems counter-intuitive, since heat really activates the flavors.

                                    yes, it really is that easy. remember this is an ancient method for preserving food -- it's not from a fancy-schmancy 5-star restaurant that employs dozens of prep cooks. :) even though it's very forgiving and very straightforward, the "perception" somehow intimidates many. people swoon when i serve it.

                        1. I just recently discovered moroccan chicken tagine and I just love it. It's different, (at least for me) and delicious. Serve with couscous.

                          1. Is beef wellington too close to beef tenderloin? I really like Janskitchen's idea of a chicken tagine.

                            1. braised shortribs are a great idea, because they can be made in advance and re-heated. Cornish hens are nice, and if lamb is out why not try porcini crusted veal chops? or rack of veal - that's easily prepared and you can buy a 7-10 rib rack, which will give you more than enough for the dinner party

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ahuva

                                The mention of a rack of veal made me wonder if this meal has a budget or does anything go?

                                1. re: escondido123

                                  OP stated she had wanted to do rack of lamb but there are non lamb eaters, so Im thinking the budget is pretty negotiable as rack of lamb is spendy!

                              2. So no lamb or anything from the ocean. Wow. Chicken cordon bleu? You can roll them ahead and pan fry and bake right before. Sautéed mushrooms and mash. Nice Riesling or maybe a Burgundy.

                                1. How about beef stroganoff, or some variety of roast chicken (garlic & herb, lemon & thyme etc.). Cassoulet, osso bucco, chicken or veal scallopini, or Marsala are delicious as well.

                                  1. It sounds like both beef and pork are out also. If there are no fish folks I'm guessing that that means no shrimp also.

                                    I'd go with a chicken dish. Serve over pasta or with rice - it would be a nice change from what sounds like is usually served. I have a favorite artichoke chicken recipe I serve over pasta that my family loves.

                                    Or the baked cornish hen recipe is an excellent idea - small little succulent birds - you can stuff them or not. With some really good sides, an excellent salad as a first course or a soup - would be wonderful.

                                    1. Crown roast of pork or veal,Ham both easy to serve.Roast chicken,I recommend roast spatch cocked so that 90% of of your carving work is out of the way at serving time.All easy to roast,portion and serve.hot.Go with a plethora of sides,spices,herbs.

                                      One pot meals are a bit tougher to present "elegantly",if that matters.ALL braises,daubes etc can be dressed up,made in advance and are easy to serve.There are some good ones mentioned and most would hold in a slow cooker or stove top for service warm,hot.AND EASY TO MAKE IN ADVANCE

                                      twyst ....mentions ....... boneless quail.
                                      If you are at ease boning out birds ???? Galantine of turkey or duck comes to me.Turkey you can by with one bird.If you decide on duck ,you will need THREE,use the legs and most of the thigh meat for confit,saving the most continuous skin you can.Again easy to hold warm,carve and serve.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: lcool

                                        budget isn't really a problem, within reason.

                                        Not fussy on duck or boning birds folks and here in Canada we just celebrated Thanksgiving so turkeyed out :)

                                        I recently read a Wall St recipe for Almost Confit chicken - considering this as an option.
                                        And also thinking more about the short ribs - it is easy and well liked by our group.
                                        Although the crown of pork is intriguing me. I've never done one so I'll need to do a little research.

                                        Party isn't until Nov 4 so I have some time still.

                                        If you think of anything else by all means chime in. Appreciate all the input so far. You guys rock!!

                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          Crown Roast of pork,the pig version of standing rib roast beef
                                          easy,forgiving,just make sure your butcher,meat cutter...saws,trims the chine bone close enough for easy one chop slices,just like rack of lamb

                                        2. re: lcool

                                          "twyst ....mentions ....... boneless quail.
                                          If you are at ease boning out birds ????"

                                          In my area most quail are sold already (semi) deboned at the market. Deboning all those quail would not be something Id recommend for a home cook trying to serve that many people as its fairly labor intensive until you get really good at it!

                                          1. re: twyst

                                            Yes I'll have to investigate this here although I'm pretty sure they are readily available.

                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              How about some wild game? Elk or Venison or Moose? it is hunting season, should be easier to find these things. Tenderloin would be best, but I enjoy making all the same dishes with game as beef, such as stroganoff. I like to pan fry my tenderloins and make a fruity pan sauce (like blueberry or blackberry with port). Serve with potatoes or for a change maybe some spaetzle or a wild rice pilaf.

                                            2. re: twyst

                                              After 50+ years as my own butcher,meat handler 90% of the time,I just do it.Do I recommend it,maybe.All of us start somewhere with new skills,time,knives and patience permitting.
                                              Prep,labor intensive or not is preferred by me instead of the log jams that can crop up at time of service.I really like all of us at the table smoothly with no loss to the food,done here for 12 or more
                                              many time a year.

                                              1. re: lcool

                                                thanks but the thought of me with a cleaver deboning meat is not an elegant picture. Either for me, or the bird.