Elegant Main Courses
By Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Angela Bushong
You want to throw a classy dinner party, or impress your new date with your cooking prowess for the first time, but don’t know what to make! Never fear, putting together a truly gourmet meal experience, for many or for few, doesn’t have to be complicated.
Start with just the right entree, and the rest of your meal will come off without a hitch.
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10. Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is one of those fantastic cuts of meat that can be super impressive without a ton of work. You can feed just the two of you on one small tenderloin for an intimate meal by candle light, or cook up a few of these at once to feed a whole dinner party. Versatile and scrumptious, you can’t go wrong with a tenderloin.
9. Roast Chicken
Roast chicken works much like the pork, in that you can pair it with almost any flavor, from classic lemon pepper to classy wine-basted birds, but will work better if you have any guests who may keep Kosher or don’t eat pork or red meat.
8. Anything with Truffles
Truffles — the tuber, not the chocolate morsels named after them — may not work as a main dish all on their own (their price and rarity alone would prevent such an endeavor), but there is no denying that adding truffles, or even truffle oil, to any dish instantly transforms it into an elegant affair. Even the pictured pizza is now rendered classier than anything you’ve ever made with the addition of true truffles.
Pasta is one of those amazingly versatile core ingredients that can be transformed into almost anything. It can be meaty, it can be vegan or vegetarian, it can be gluten free, and it most certainly can be elegant. Whip up a simple pasta carbonara or a vegetarian lasagna, add some crusty French bread or a seasonal fresh salad and a bottle of red wine, and you’ve got a meal to impress your most discerning guests.
6. Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs have reached a certain vogue in recent years, and with good reason. When cooked properly, they are a most particularly tender, sumptuous cut that sends carnivorous diners into fits of ecstasy. But, do not tread lightly into short rib territory. Find a good recipe from a trusted chef and be prepared to spend some time on them, allowing them to braise slowly to coax out the very best of their meaty goodness.
If you’re looking for a fish entree, halibut is always a well-received choice. In most places, you can only get it when it’s in season, from April to October (unless you live in California, where you can usually find it year round), upping its rare-therefore-desirable quotient. It isn’t overly fishy in taste, and can hold up to almost any cooking preparation, including being thrown straight onto the grill.
Dare your guests to be unimpressed with this bird on the table. Duck is known for its succulence, and can be served as a whole roasted centerpiece, or as tender braised cutlets which taste like fine steak, but better.
3. Filet Mignon
An obvious choice, perhaps, but never disappointing, filet mignon is the finest cut of steak you can serve in a gourmet setting. Prepared properly, this cut will melt in your mouth and require no knife to be cut. Cook this steak fast, over high heat, and don’t overcook it. You don’t want to dry out meat as splendid as this.
Either served as a rack or by the leg, lamb is a meat meant for celebrations. A rack of lamb makes a particularly impressive presentation and will wow your guests with its moist flavor. Lamb doesn’t need a lot of marinades or long preparation (though it does lend itself well to slow cooking), just a simple rub of herbs and spices and a little oil, and you’re well on your way to a royal feast.
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Quite possibly the king of shellfish, fresh lobster, especially in the summertime, simply can’t be beat. Be sure to buy it live, or as fresh as possible, and cook it quick. Steam it rather than boil it to bring out its inherent sweetness, and serve with melted butter for dipping, a fresh salad or lightly steamed vegetables, and some white wine (avoid red like the plague here). Sometimes simplicity really is the height of elegance.
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