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Not festive enough?

Ok, so here is my dilemma - this year for Christmas we only have my sister in law, her husband and our best friends (couple with a 5year old) over. Nothing formal - just the 6 of us and last minute celebration.

I usually cook huge holiday dinners with lots and lots of food. This year I wanted to take it easy. I have many grass finished blade steaks in the freezer. I was thinking of cutting them up, and making a beef stew, serving over mashed potatoes with some roasted veggies, green salad, etc. Now, my husband keeps saying its not festive enough and I should at a very least be making a roast...what do you think? Am I crazy for wanting to use up those blade steaks for holiday dinner?

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  1. It sounds like a lovely meal, but I agree that it doesn't sound very festive. I tend to agree with your husband about a roast. And, IMO, a roast is less work than a stew, and the same sides will work well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CanadaGirl

      I agree. Plus, the steaks may be too lean for optimal braising. Get a spiral-sliced glazed ham. All you'll need to do is heat it up. Roast sweet potatoes and either redskinned or Yukon Gold potatoes along with your other roast vegetables.

      1. re: greygarious

        I would, but we had ham, mashed potatoes and corn for diner tonight :(
        I just looked at my freezer list (I only buy meat from the farm in bulk) and I have these roasts:
        cross rib
        sirloin tip
        They are all smaller size, so I am thinking of making 2. Now I need to decide which one and how to make it :)

      1. I think it sounds like a fantastic meal (I've routinely done chicken and dumplings for Thanksgiving instead of turkey...no one has ever complained, to my face at least, about a delicious home-cooked meal they didn't have to put one ounce of work into or clean up for not being "festive enough"). I honestly don't think a roast is any more or less festive than beef stew - it's a lot of the same elements.

        If you want to add a bit of festive flair, do it with dessert or simmer some homemade hot chocolate (with a toppings bar...marshmallows, whipped cream, crushed candy canes, peppermint schnapps) or some spiced cider in a crockpot.

        1. The meal sounds lovely. Go for a big festive desert and bubbly for the grown ups. Give the 5 year old his/her own "bubbly" with a fruit juice club soda combo.

          And as an aside, as the cook in our home, if he thinks this isn't festive enough, he's welcome to try. This line might have been used once or twice around here. . .

          1. Subjective. I would welcome ABT: Anything But Turkey. Have never braised cut-up blade steaks, but would certainly enjoy trying them. To some, *festive* connotes an aristocratic roast (wild game would be my preference). Yet I have had enough disappointments to maybe prefer some serious home cooking. IMO.

            1. It doesn't sound festive at all. Sounds like an every day meal. I don't see what the number of guests has to do with how much effort and details you put into the meal.

              1. Thank you for everyone's opinion. I did tell my husband to just cook it himself. LOL. but then I though - what if he is right?
                The largest roast I have in the freezer is Inside Roast. Is the best way to cook it at very low temperature and then slice very thinly?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Allenkii

                  I think your main course sounds great.How about you do something festive as an appetizer? A baked dip with garlic toasts. And then a nice salad, maybe with some pomegrante seeds for flavor and color. Add something extra in the dessert.

                  1. re: Allenkii

                    I have always had great results with the low and slow method. If i ay be bold, what about so e Yorkshire pudding with the beef? Yum, regardless of how you decide on the beef.

                  2. It has always been the experience (as a whole) not the meal served that gave a festive feel. A little Christmas music playing in the background, some candles on the table, a toast at the beginning of the meal with some wine or champagne. Create a festive atmosphere for your occasion and your meal will be just fine.

                    1. Why not make your beef stew add a little wine and call it BOEUF BOURGUIGNON? I certainly would love if someone made me beef stew.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: TDEL

                        I think TDEL has a great suggestion, but I'd take it one step farther. Don't call it Beef Bourguignon. Make an authentic recipe for Beef Bourguigon! Below, I've provided a link to a blog about an aspiring cook who tackled Julia Child's version of Beef Bourguigon for her Christmas dinner in 2009.

                        That dish has the advantage of improving when made in advance so you can put the effort in earlier and have an easy day with your company. That said, I'm with the other posters who are skittish about using blade steak for a long-braise recipe be it American beef stew or French Bourguigon.

                        Other details that will lift your meal into the festive zone:

                        o Perhaps change things up and serve the salad after the entree the way Europeans serve their meal.

                        o Serve an elegant appetizer. It can be as simple as buying some smoked salmon (Nova lox or gravlaax) and plating that on a leaf or two of butter lettuce, accompanied by a wedge of lemon, a sprig of fresh dill, (perhaps) a sauce and some toast points.

                        Another simple suggestion is to buy thin asparagus (about pencil size diameter). Bundle these in groups of three or four and wrap each bundle in a thin slice of prosciutto. Some time in advance on the morning of the meal, saute each bundle until the prosciutto gets browned. Serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar. Note: you'll probably need to put a film of oil in the pan when cooking the first couple of bundles but soon the fat around the prosciutto will begin to melt into the pan.

                        o Serve the easiest most festive dessert you can. My two go-to knock-out-but-easy desserts are a strawberry-topped cheesecake or a mixed berry trifle. A great option that involves even less work is to buy/make your favorite brownies and top with a scoop of ice cream and sliced strawberries or raspberries. Finally, drizzle with your favorite liqueur.

                        Serve an American-made sparkling wine from a French champagne producer. My favorite is Roederer Eastate Brut, one of the American sparkling wines from the folks who make Louis Roederer Cristal in France which is priced in the stratosphere.

                        URL: http://timefordinner.wordpress.com/20...

                        1. re: TDEL

                          Oops TDEL, sorry, I duplicated your suggestion. So let me add another fancy stew, a German version in which the beef is browned and combined with plenty of onions and sliced Portobello mushrooms (they make a darker richer gravy than regular mushrooms), an 8-oz can of tomato sauce, and a couple of cans of beer---use beer for ALL of the liquid---cook in slow cooker until the meat is falling apart. Good with potatoes or any noodles, best with Spaetzel. I would call this by a German name but I don't know one. The stuff is substantial, a very no-BS kind of stew.

                          1. re: Querencia

                            In the slow cooker, you probably would not need more than one can of beer. It takes much less liquid than stewing in a stew pot on the stovetop. My favourite stewing liquid is a locally made craft dark beer (St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, but that is from Montreal; it is available in Ontario as well as Qu├ębec, but don't know about the US;).

                            Every time I make a good stew, guests are thrilled. Especially with local, grass-fed meat.

                            Thanks for the Californian Roederer suggestion; I've had that sparkler - it is very good!

                            1. re: lagatta

                              Last time I made stew with Belgian beer - my hubby said he did not love the after taste the beer left...Same goes for wine :( This is why I am thinking mushrooms and cream instead :) I think i will brown pieces of meat and throw them in slow cooker with LOTS of caramelized onions and 2hrs before the end will add fried mushrooms and 15 min before the end or so will add i cream :)

                        2. I use blade steaks for steak pizzaiola, if you don't mind an Italian slant. Some antipasta and garlic bread along with the salad, you don't have to do a pasta course.

                          1. I love relaxed dinners/holidays with friends. "Festive" is an attitude for us, not a dish. A great beef stew, potatoes, salad would be grand. I'd start with a course of a small variety of fun appetizers (my husband's definition of "festive") and ensure lots of toasted bread/garlic bread with the stew.

                            Appetizers can be simple (olives, nuts, pigs/blankets!) and even Costco-produced (love their spanakopita). And a choice of 2-3 desserts (boughten).

                            Sometimes I just want to sit and laugh and enjoy my guests.

                            1 Reply
                            1. I would love to have a nice stew for Xmas Day dinner. It'd be such a change from the inevitable turkey. We are, however, having the stew on Boxing Day (made a couple of weeks back and now sitting in the freezer).

                              1. Maybe he doesn't think stew is festive. You might do your steaks as steaks... Or maybe as steak au poivre. That's a bit fancy.

                                1. Stew sounds great. Make something fancy and festive for dessert and appetizers.

                                  1. How about calling your stew by some other name? Or making a fancier variant of stew? You could use your beef to make Boeuf Bourguignon, long on the Burgundy and mushrooms. If you have it in the slow cooker it will get fantastically tender and flavorful and free you up to do other things on the holiday.

                                    1. I was not going to make a simple stew (maybe I should have clarified that - sorry) :) I was going to make either the one with wine (from Julia Child's book) or more likely with lots of mushrooms and creme fraiche (beef stroganoff).

                                      Anyhow, after reading all the suggestions on this topic, this morning i took a big chicken out of the freezer to marinate over night. I will also be making beef dish - uncertain about 2 small briskets or a stew. I am still inclined to make the stew - I just think its more unexpected and different and big roasted chicken should be festive enough?

                                      Now i just need to decide on an appetizer. I have lots of beets in the fridge, so I am thinking maybe beet napoleons with goat cheese?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                        Chicken is a good idea since 5yr olds often object to dishes like stew, wherein they can't identify every single ingredient.
                                        The beet napoleons sound good for the grownups. Maybe you can think of a different filling for the kidlet.

                                        I'd suggest stuffing the chicken, while you're at it.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          Huh? re kids not liking stew????? That's not been our experience but everyone's mileage varies.

                                        2. re: Allenkii

                                          Amy Thielen featured Beets in Red Wine with Cream on her website http://www.amythielen.com/

                                        3. The menu sounds great to me. I firmly believe in festiving up regular meals with the holy trinity: shrimp cocktail, champagne, chocolate dessert.

                                          1. I think the beef stew sounds delicious ( one of my top ten fav foods.....especially with onion... mushroom....red wine style) but a whole roast chicken makes a great presentation on the table too. The bottom line is that friends love the fact that someone cares enough to prepare a home cooked meal and share a special day with them. Cook what you love and I have a feeling there will be no left overs. Just curious does hubby cook too? Happy Holidays

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                              Yes, the hubby does cook, but not as often as I do. He is a good cook, actually, and there are several dishes that are "his" and I never touch them. lol

                                            2. Again, thank you everyone for suggestions. Here is what I ended up making (still in the process of course):

                                              Calamari and egg Salad
                                              Mushroom and Cheese salad
                                              Beat Napoleons
                                              Green Salad
                                              Cal slaw (russian style)
                                              Homemade artickoke - spinach dip
                                              Home made antipastro (canned in summer)
                                              Home made pickled tomatoes (canned)
                                              Home made eggplant in hot tomato sauce (canned)

                                              Stew with mushrooms, onions and cream
                                              Rotisserie chicken mamrinated in buttermilk
                                              Mashed potatoes

                                              Desert - chesecake (store bought)

                                              1 Reply