The Craziest Dinner I Ever Made... 8 Courses

October 12 2007 - 4:34 PM

When I decided to make dinner for my father-in-law’s birthday I started making a list of things I wanted to make and somehow never crossed anything off of the final list. Hence a dinner with 8 tasting courses, + 3 alternates, so that really means 11 courses, no?

I didn’t really think that I would begin preparing this in my kitchen and then do most of the work in their kitchen in Milwaukee. It wasn’t until that day two that I decided I would never do this again. And of course that is what I always say.

The best news was that my mother-in-law had a new set of cool square plates in all sorts of sizes so all the courses looked great. I should have snapped a pic of at least something.

First Course: Tart salad
Thin slices of red pear, green apple,
fresh fennel and celery standing upright in a cashew butter with a
balsamic reduction drizzle. I think people liked this. I thought it
only worked with the balsamic tying the nuttiness to the tart.

Second Course: Freshwater and Sea Scallops
Freshwater scallops
steamed and
served in shell with a touch of butter and big sea scallops pan fried
in duck fat then dusted with dehydrated corn powder. I screwed the
pooch with the big scallops and they were inedible and rubbery. The
freshwater scallops were great and the corn dust I enjoyed (of course I
did). Closest thing to a foam in this meal.

Second Course Alt: Smoked Coho salmon beet-maki with curried lentils
A
really simple cube of smoked salmon sitting atop an equally cubed beet
served with cold curried lentils and sea salt. Actually came out very
nice. The curry rounded out the earthy nutty beet and the coho brought
a nice salt. The pink and red was a nice color combo with the calico
lentils.

Third Course: Monkfish wrapped in potato with corn puree
This was
kind of a fish and chippy type of idea a simple thin slice of potato
wrapped around a 3 oz. portion of monkfish and pan fried until the
tater’s pretty crispy. Then served over microgreens and a healthy smear
of roasted corn puree… well strained. Garnished with dehydrated corn
kernels. This was my favorite. The corn puree was really tasty, just sticky enough to be hearty. The fish was very tasty – thanks Fish Guy!

Third Course Alt: peanut butter and jelly on white bread, crusts cut off (sister-in-law hates fish)

Fourth Course: Duck confit ravioli and quail egg ravioli (ode to Schwa)
I made
the confit the day before and pan finished it, shredded it and filled
1/2 semolina raviolis. I took quail egg yolks and filled other
raviolis. The quail eggs mostly set but I got a few that were liquid
inside. The trick would have been to freeze them before making the
raviolis. That would have worked. Each plate had 2 confit and 1 quail
ravioli, wilted spinach and  a salty porchini tapenade. I thought I oversalted the tapenade but everyone liked it. I also think I overcooked the confit right at the end but that may be my disappointment at the quail yolks being cooked.

Fifth Course: Lamb chops with pear
Pan fried Lamb Chops with brown sugar pear glaze and roasted pears. Simple enough and tasty.

Fifth Course Alt: 1/2 Duck breast with blackberry reduction
Duck breast was pan fried till skin got crispy and served with sliced pear and blackberry reduction. It’s my second time actually working with duck. It went well even though the first time was awesome.

Sixth Course: Mushroom risotto with beef Merguez sausage
Porcini mushroom risotto (overcooked (!!)) with this weird Kosher beef Merguez that tasted great but was realllly firm stuff. My folks apparently love overcooked risotto. I guess it became more of a jambalaya. It did taste pretty good.

Seventh Course: Slow-braised bourbon brisket
Nice deckel brisket
slow cooked for 6+ hours and pulled. Served with sweet potatos and
miniature white onions. I needed to use way more bourbon. Waaay more.
Applejack whiskey sauce. I needed to season this one more. More salt, more pepper, more sweet, more something. It was really tender though. MMmmmm…. maybe I was just missing some smoke in that there brisket.

Eighth Course: Assorted Braised Short Ribs
4 Short ribs braised: 1- Sweet with vanilla, 2- Hot with asian hot vinegar sauce, 3- 5-spice, 4-bourbon. Served on a plate. This looked and smelled great. It was eaten before I could get near it. 4 hunks of meat on a plate looked pretty fun.

Dessert that I didn’t make was a chocolate cake and a cheesecake. The homemade icing on that chocolate cake was great (thanks to the birthday boy) and my mother’s cheesecake is still wonderful, even though she has started sneaking in a package of lite cream cheese here and there. (It’s creamier than usual).

All in all it was a really fun time cooking and eating and I’m really looking forward to doing half the work and preparing a 6 course next time.

 

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