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Need sauce idea/recipe for dinner party

We're having a dinner party in 10 days, and my husband wants make the "protein" dish. I'd prefer a pork loin roast, but he wants to roast a couple of whole chickens (maybe beer-can method) on his gas grill. I want to make a simple pan sauce to serve with the chicken. (I can saute up some thighs a few days in advance, in order to get the drippings needed for a pan sauce, since I might not get what I need from grill-roasting, and I don't want too much smoke flavor anyway.)

I need some SUGGESTIONS about what flavors to incorporate in the chicken, and maybe a good pan sauce recipe. Here is our menu:

1. Roasted Chicken
2. Whole Roasted Pumpkin stuffed with a Parm-Emmenthaler Bread Pudding, Wild Mushrooms, and Black Truffle
3. Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Lemon, Hazelnuts, and Fried Capers
4. Tarte Tatin w/ Whipped Creme Fraiche

I'd like to keep the meal Autumnal. And I'm also trying to keep it in the French/No. Italian vein, if possible.

My first thought was lemon-garlic-rosemary, but since I already have lemon in the Sprouts, I'm wondering if orange-garlic-rosemary would work well. Tarragon might be better, but that's a spring herb. So, I was considering making a pan sauce using Grand Marnier or other orange liquer (or O.J.?) and a bit of Dijon. But I would welcome any other ideas for the chicken and sauce. Thanks!

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  1. Shallot, White Wine and Thyme.
    Fairly simple but the rest of your meal has a lot going on.
    I think that going with Orange/Grand Marnier will add a sweetness that will clash with some of your other dishes and the Garlic-Rosemary combo i associate more with Tuscany.

    1. I'd make a pan sauce with white wine, dijon mustard, and fresh thyme. Just spoon over the chicken.

      If the mixture of dijon and wine is a bit much for you, skip the wine and substitue with chicken stock.

      4 Replies
      1. re: FoodChic

        This is exactly what I was going to suggest. Mount with butter for some extra richness. Perfection.

        1. re: biondanonima


          Tarragon - you either love it or hate it. Perhaps something more neutral .

          1. re: C. Hamster

            I was going to suggest tarragon instead of thyme but you're right about it being a divisive ingredient.

          2. re: biondanonima

            Yes, I will add butter at the end if it seems to need a bit more richness.

        2. A sauce with sage would be a warming welcome to the menu you describe.

          It could incorporate mushrooms or mustard or lemon or all three..., your choice.
          Either way, I look forward to hearing in 10 days what you choose and perhaps a picture as well? Enjoy!

          1. what about a cranberry, rosemary, garlic pan sauce?

            1. Keep working on your husband. If you live in the US in a region with four seasons, it's time to move away from the grilled mains. Not to mention that your menu is similar to what people will be eating two weeks later on Thanksgiving.
              Roast pork is a better idea, IMO. The bread pudding sounds splendid but a better accompaniment to pork than roast chicken. For the latter, I'd expect either a typical stuffing/dressing, or NO savory bread style side. The stuffed pumpkin seems off-base alongside chicken, to me.

              1. I'll second the shallot, white wine ( and/or stock) and thyme sauce. It's quick and it will go with the other items.

                Grill roasted chickens are nice; I don't agree that just because it's Fall, one should stop grilling. I live in NC, we grill/smoke year round. That said, I think you have too many flavors in your bread pudding, although I like the idea of savory bread pudding...you have two kinds of cheeses and basically two types of mushrooms, one of which will over power the other and what would be the purpose of the pumpkin other than it being a serving vessel? You won't be able to taste it at all with all the other flavors.

                Yes to the Brussels sprouts but leave out the capers. Dessert is okay.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Cherylptw

                  If you decide to go the pork route, the dijon mustard and thyme go amazingly well with it.

                  1. re: Cherylptw

                    An alternate similar side could be either the savory bread pudding in a roasted halved acorn squash, or to do a wild rice/lentil stuffing with the same flavors if the concern is it will be too much like a thanksgiving stuffing...

                    1. re: Cherylptw

                      I was thinking of omitting the capers, as a matter of fact.

                      I've made the pumpkin recipe before and it is sublime. When you scoop out the pudding, you also scoop some of the cooked pumpkin flesh. This dish stays! :-)

                      1. re: pindert

                        The pumpkin dish sounds particularly wonderful--any chance you'd share the recipe?

                        1. re: miss louella

                          Sure! I got this recipe from a book called A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance, by Marlena di Blasi.

                          Whole Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Porcini and Truffles

                          • one 4-5 lb pumpkin or Hubbard Squash
                          • 3 T unsalted butter
                          • 2 lg yellow onions, diced small
                          • 12 oz assorted wild mushrooms (porcini, portabella, Crimini, chanterelles, etc)
                          • 2 canned black truffles
                          • sea salt
                          • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                          • 3 C mascarpone cheese
                          • 12 oz Emmenthaler cheese, grated
                          • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
                          • 3 eggs
                          • 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
                          • 4 T unsalted butter
                          • 8 slices firm white day-old bread, crusts removed

                          NOTE: If using a pumpkin rather than a Hubbard squash, be sure to get a Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Do not get a "jack-o-lantern" type of pumpkin, as they are not suitable for eating.

                          NOTE: Instead of 12 oz of fresh wild mushrooms, you could use 4 oz dried mushrooms instead. If you do this, soften them in 1/2 cup warm water, stock or wine. Drain, reserving the liquid, and slice thinly.

                          NOTE: Instead of using 2 whole black truffles, you could use 3 oz black truffle paste.

                          1. Preheat oven to 375.

                          2. Cut the stalk end of pumpkin to form a cap and retain for use later. Remove strings and seeds.

                          3. Rinse, drain, dry and thinly slice the fresh mushrooms. Set aside.

                          4. Cut bread into 1" squares. Set aside

                          5. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion with the mushrooms until both soften and the mushrooms give up their liquors (if using dried mushrooms, strain the soaking liquid to remove sediment, and add liquid to the sauté pan). Add the thinly sliced truffles or truffle paste (if used) and combine well. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

                          6. In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients except the bread and butter; season with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. Beat until well combined, then stir in the mushroom mixture. Set aside.

                          7. Melt the 4 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan and brown the bread, tossing the pieces about until they are crisp. Set aside.

                          8. Place the pumpkin in a large, heavy baking dish or on a baking sheet. Spoon 1/3 of the mushroom mixture into the pumpkin, add half the crisped bread, another third of the mushrooms, the remaining bread, and end with the last third of the mushrooms.

                          9. Top off with the pumpkin cap and roast at 375 for 90 minutes or until the pumpkin's flesh is very soft. Carry the pumpkin immediately to table, remove its hat, and spoon out portions of its flesh with the stuffing.

                          Serve this dish with a cool, flinty dry white wine.

                          1. re: pindert

                            Yum! Thank you sooo much! Hope your dinner party is fantastic.

                    2. *browned* butter and flour roux, add in chicken stock. deglaze with white wine first if you like. i sometimes go as plain as adding a little thyme, and generally a bay leaf, as the browned butter makes it quite flavorful. add a little lemon and shallot if you so desire.

                      your pumpkin and bread pudding sound amazing!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Emme

                        Thanks for the browned-butter idea. I may do that.

                        1. re: Emme

                          That was my thought...a browned butter sauce with thyme, lemon and shallot. I like the idea of putting lemon in the sauce to tie in with the lemon in the Brussels Sprouts.

                          I am certainly saving your pumpkin and bread pudding recipe. It sounds wonderful. Though I'll probably leave out the truffles.

                        2. Here in the UK a pan sauce for roast meats is known as gravy, which has no pasta sauce connotations.

                          Anyway, Here is Jamie on the subject. This works beautifully, and altering some of the flavourings to suit your tastes and menu would be just fine:


                          1. Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions.

                            I need to put the pork idea to rest.... my husband just isn't confident enough or experienced enough doing a pork loin roast on the grill; he feels there's a better probability of his being able to produce a very good result if he sticks with chicken. So, we're going with the chicken.

                            I think I'll probably do a very simple basic pan sauce for a light drizzle, using shallots, some type of white wine, stock, and thyme). I want to have this just in case The Hubs overcooks the chicken and it turns out dry. :-/

                            Also, I'm considering switching the veg to Grilled Leeks instead of Brussels Sprouts. It's simpler in flavor, easier to prepare, and there is less of a chance that someone will dislike leeks, as opposed to Sprouts. I'll use baby leeks if I can find them (aren't these called Ramps?). They are brushed with an extremely simple Dijon vinaigrette before grilling.

                            I will try to stop long enough to take some pics, and then share here.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pindert

                              Baby Leeks are not Ramps different plants and flavor.
                              If you can get hold of some Veal Stock it would be best for your Sauce.Also use a simple unoaked White Wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris.

                            2. Thanks to everyone for your input. I ended up making a Shallot and White Wine pan sauce (recipe from Cook's Illustrated), which was sublime -- maybe the best thing in the entire meal! My husband's roasted chicken was excellent. I switched the veg dish to Grilled Leeks, which were only okay (probably won't make these again). The pumpkin dish was delicious, but I have some recommended adjustments to the recipe for anyone who is interested. If anyone asks for this, I will post. Ended up using Haagen-Daaz vanilla ice cream instead of the whipped creme fraiche because it tasted kinda blah. Here are some photos.

                              7 Replies
                                1. re: pindert

                                  Your pictures look amazing! I'm planning on making your pumpkin dish for Thanksgiving--am very interested in any adjustments you recommend!


                                  1. re: miss louella

                                    Okay, here ya go.

                                    1. The ratio of cheese-mushroom mixture to bread-cubes seems to be way off, IMO. There was a very large volume of cheese-mushroom mixture, and very little volume of bread cubes. I would at least double the bread – or halve the cheese-mushroom – next time. When I made this dish several years ago, I vaguely recollect that I noticed this problem and decided at the last minute to go ahead and double the bread cubes. (Which means I probably didn't use "day old" or "stale" bread.) Unfortunately, I didn't do the same this time.

                                    2. This time the bread cubes seemed to maintain their structural integrity more than I would have preferred. I think that’s because I dried-out the bread for a day, and toasted it in butter as well. When I made it years ago, I recall the bread as being quite a bit more tender and almost custardy than it was this time. I think that’s probably because I used relatively fresh bread cubes (if I remember correctly), rather than stale bread cubes, for at about half of the of the bread when I made it years ago.

                                    3. Not only did that make for a more luxurious filling, but it also soaked up more of the juices and fat from the cheese-mushroom mixture, and so swelled up a lot more last time versus this time -- so much so that it literally pushed the top of the pumpkin right off, and some of the filling spilled over and ran down the sides of the pumpkin, bubbling and browning in the oven, and leaving the cap attractively askew. It made for a gorgeous presentation. This time, it was attractive, but not spectacularly so, like the first time. So, I would use fresh bread for half of the bread called for, and toast them as directed.

                                    4. I used a different type of squash, since the pumpkins at the stores were so small. It was 6 lbs, but I can't remember what variety of squash it was. It looked very much like a pumpkin though; I think it was a great substitute.

                                    5. The cavity inside of a 4-5 lb pumpkin/squash is much too small for the amount of filling. I bought a 6 lb squash and it was still too small. When I made this dish years ago, I remember the pumpkin being about the size of an oblong basketball, and I just could NOT find any pumpkins of that size last week. My guess as to the weight of a pumpkin of that size is approximately 8 lbs, maybe? Also, try to get one with a little stem left on; about 2 inches would be perfect. It just makes a nice presentation and helps remove the cap when serving... I had a hard time getting the top off this time because mine didn’t have a stem.

                                    6. Since there was so much extra filling, I made a second one, but I baked it in a covered casserole dish. However, it cooks faster than the one in the pumpkin, so you don't need to cook it for 90 min.

                                    7. Be prepared to serve this dish with salt at table, even if you don't normally salt your food at table. This is because the pumpkin flesh brings down the overall saltiness of the dish. There's no way to salt the pumpkin flesh before cooking, that I know of. And I don't think you would want to make the filling too salty either, since not every bite you take is going to always have both filling and pumpkin. Adding salt at table did improve the taste.

                                    Good luck!! I hope it is a smash. :-) I'd love to hear about how it turns out for you.

                                    1. re: pindert

                                      Thank you sooo much! I had thought the bread portion sounded on the small side and had wondered about how big a squash I would need. Also very good to get the other tips for a smashing success! I will definitely report back. Thanks again!

                                      1. re: miss louella

                                        Miss Louella, I'd love to know if you made this recipe, and how it turned out.

                                        1. re: pindert

                                          So sorry to be such a slacker. I did make the recipe and everyone loved it. Even the family members who accidentally got some squash along with the bread pudding. I did make the mistake of adding too much of the liquid and ended up very very very happy my giant squash was on a rimmed baking sheet. It was deeeelicious and I'll definitely be making it again. Thank you so much for the idea, the recipe and the tips!