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Upscale Friday night dinner ideas

I am planning a really nice, upscale Friday night dinner for a small group of people. I want something with wow factor--steak would be great, but how can I cook it in advance and then hold it for the meal without it being overcooked or cold? I need an entree that can hold for at least 30-60 minutes after cooking. I'm willing to splurge on a cool protein (duck? a more interesting cut of meat?) but I would feel more comfortable doing that if I had a solid Chowhound-approved recipe and Shabbat strategy. Any ideas? I would also welcome any ideas for top notch salads, sides, desserts. Thanks!

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  1. Beef bourguignon will look impressive and will hold up, as will most stews. You can search the board for previous discussions on it and recipes.

    1. I think a perfectly grilled steak, cooked before Shabbat and served at room temp is a great idea.

      Personally, I love braises, stews, stuffed vegetables simmered in sauce and similar because they "hold" so well. They even reheat if you cook them Thursday after work. It's awfully hard to do roasted poultry with perfectly crisped skin, or a roast cooked to pink-center perfection and "hold" them between candle-lighting and whatever time everyone gets home from maariv.

      But it's hot outside. perfect steak served on a cutting board with appropriate condiments and side dishes sounds pretty great to me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AdinaA

        I like the steak idea--any tips on what to serve it with? I don't cook steak that much so I'm not sure how to "elevate" it beyond the basic mashed potatoes or whatever.

      2. How about a standing rib roast - this a thread form a couple of years ago - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8474...

        when visiting my parents we will have one for friday night -

        5 Replies
        1. re: weinstein5

          You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din

          1. re: weinstein5

            Great idea! Do you know where I can reliably find one in NYC?

            1. re: DevorahL

              Do not know in NYC - I can tell you where to get one in Chicago -

              As I posted it the older it is a delicate dance of timing to have the cooking done before the start of Shabbos -

              1. re: DevorahL

                The upscale uptown Manhattan butchers (Prime, Park East, Kosher Marketplace) have standing rib roasts. Likely Pomegranate would, too.

            2. I always thought Beef Wellington is very impressive and would likely hold well. That said, I don't know enough about beef to know what cut would stand in well for the traditional tenderloin, which is tough to find under supervision in the US.

              3 Replies
              1. re: CloggieGirl

                A rib eye would work just fine in Beef Wellington. Cook to a rare temp, crust will brown, then while holding/resting in your turned off oven it will come to medium rare/medium.

                Do not use eye of the chuck, it will be too tough for this dish. You need a cut that is soft when cooked, as most don't have Shabbos steak knifes as part of Shabbos silverware.

                ALTERNATIVE: Take any lean chuck and rough mince and mix with some chopped veg and spices. Form a log, cover with the mushrooms and roll in the pastry, bake until golden brown, Pre-slice and plate in the kitchen. Perfect for Shabbos when you don't want a guest to struggle cutting beef and maybe upset a wine glass on your white cloth. This also saves money, avoids cooking with an unfamiliar cut the first time for guests and by hand chopping to a rough mince it still has the tooth of steak not hamburger.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  Thank you, bagelman01, I think a ribeye Wellington is just the right wow factor I am looking for! I will go to Pomegranate and choose between that and standing rib roast depending on prices and what's available. Are there any tweaks you would make to a standard Beef Wellington recipe to accommodate the change in meat cut?

                  1. re: DevorahL

                    You don't need to tweak the recipe based on the change of beef cut, BUT if your recipe calls for any added salt in the duxelles half it because the beef has been kashered. Or if you are using canned instead of fresh mushrooms (and there is nothing wrong with that for Beef Wellington) but the no salt variety.

                    Use a meat thermometer, stop cooking at just over rare, turn the oven off and let the beef finish cooking as the oven cools. Should yield pink/medium doneness.

              2. Rack of veal is always a huge hit in our house. Cook it rare and it goes to medium while waiting in warmer for the meal

                1. A lot depends on how confident a cook you are and even more on presentation. Wow factor depends a lot more on presentation than the cut of the meat. We do international gourmet food every friday. The most impressive dishes are often those that are simple to prepare but presented with panache. For example, chicken Circassian is simple a boiled chicken, taken off the bone, mixed with a bread/nut sauce, formed into an oval and covered with the same sauce. Decorated with oil colored with paprika and garnished with almonds in a flower pattern, parsley or other greens and small vegetables displayed on a platter, always evokes wows. It is served cold, much easier to accomplish than beef Wellington. Also better for warm weather than the stews.
                  An elegant fruit platter makes a smashing finish, especially with parve sorbet or ice cream or cookies.
                  Elegant platters and dessert dishes again add up to wow.

                  Another trick is to buy the filo cups and fill them with guacamole topped with small grape tomatoes.

                  You can also get a wow factor by shaping. Mashed potatoes cooked in muffin tins so each person has a crispy topped muffin shaped serving. Or molding rice into an oval by packing it tightly in a rounded container, (oiled a bit) and flipping it on to a platter and surrounding it with appropriate vegetables, tomatoes and miniature peppers would work.
                  I guess you can tell I'm a foodie. I'll stop now, but enjoy your dinner. I'm sure it will be fine

                  1. if you do a rib roast but don't slice it it should keep pretty well - maybe a rack of veal or lamb, again, the key is not to slice it until right before you're going to serve it -

                    1. I agree with other posters here. Roast chicken is the one dish that any great chef will tell you is incredibly simple yet complex to properly execute; while a roast chicken for shabbos dinner seems ubiquituous, I'd suggest something like a coq au vin instead. Coq au vin uses very inexpensive cuts of chicken to make a masterful dish. I'd count it among impressive dishes.

                      For a soup, instead of the usual matzah balls, how about a soup with quenelles of veal or ground chicken? And for salad or appetizers, try something elegant.

                      1. Thanks for the ideas, everyone. I ended up going with thick-cut rib steaks, seared off to rare just before shabbos and placed in a preheated (turned off) oven to warm up to medium rare. I served them with a fig salad appetizer, saffron rice pilaf, haricot verts with harissa and preserved lemon, and chocolate lava cake (classic but yummy) for dessert. It worked great!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: DevorahL

                          can we talk about your fig salad appetizer? also your haricot vert? more info please

                          sounds like a delicious menu

                          1. re: shoelace

                            Not too many recipes to share, it was mostly made up based on ingredients that looked good at the store.
                            Fig salad - just quartered figs, mixed greens, and toasted walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette
                            Haricot verts - blanched and then stir-fried haricot vert tossed with harissa and preserved lemon (both purchased in jars - the lemon is from Pereg, I don't recall the brand of harissa but it's delicious)
                            The saffron rice pilaf is basmati rice cooked in a broth of sauteed onion bits and saffron, and then mixed with more sauteed onions, dried cranberries, parsley and toasted almonds.
                            Hope that helps!

                            1. re: DevorahL

                              Yum, yum, yum! BTW, I sometimes cook steak before Shabbat for the day meal. It takes a bit of practice, and careful reheating, but it's a nice change from chicken and/or cholent.

                          2. re: DevorahL

                            How did you pull off the lava cake? I would be afraid it's too liquid to reheat and leaving it in the oven would result in it cooking through before dessert.

                            1. re: avitrek

                              I used this recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ch...) which seemed pretty forgiving, and baked it for 2 minutes less than directed just before Shabbat began. Right before Shabbat, I turned off the oven, leaving the lava cakes and putting the just-seared steaks in as well. By the time I was ready for dessert, the cakes were warm but not too hot and still molten on the inside!