Sometimes, you need to celebrate something and plan on impressing a special guest with an awesome-looking and delicious dinner. Other times, you may feel like getting creative and want to turn a regular evening meal into a tasteful delight. Here are 7 meal suggestions, paired with complementing drinks and helpful cooking tips, to inspire you.
1. Pork Chops
Pork chops are rich in taste but extremely versatile. There are numerous ways to prepare chops—from baking to grilling, to frying. You are only limited by your imagination.
This recipe for Circle B Ranch Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce is quick to prepare, and the dish will impress any special dinner guest with its perfect combination of spice and sweetness.
Food Network's Harvest Pork Chops with Cranberry and Kale look striking on the plate, are surprisingly easy to make, and are extremely tasty. This meal contains an enticing blend of flavors: cranberry, rosemary, garlic, and a touch of grainy mustard for balance. TIP: For this recipe, the trick is in the cranberry and Italian sausage stuffing. Make sure to evenly stuff the pork chops, and follow the recipe’s suggestion on closing the chops while cooking to keep the stuffing in.
Blends with Red Wine
You can successfully serve your pork dish with a light red wine, such as a Zinfandel or Grenache-based variety. Your chosen wine should have a good acidity to balance the meat’s strong taste.
2. Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts are low-fat and are relatively easy to prepare, generally taking around 20 minutes to cook. For your special dinner, try cooking the chicken breasts with tortellini or potatoes, or steaming them to create a juicy effect. When prepared with mascarpone and rosemary, chicken breasts become a treat for the palette.
Tip: Don’t buy boneless and skinless half breasts that weigh more than 8 – 9 ounces. These come from stewing hens. Therefore, they are hard to make tender when not cooked in liquid.
Blends with White Wine
Try a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to go with your chicken breast dinner. These wines enhance their taste when consumed with a meal containing green herbs.
3. Roasted Whole Chicken
Roast chicken has pros and cons. While roast chicken may take considerable time to cook—approximately 20 minutes per pound—it has its charm in its sauce, which leaves you plenty of room for creativity. If you prefer a spicy flavor, try a sauce with jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice or prepare a Cajun-style recipe. For a sweeter taste, go with apples and cider or honey and herbs.
Tip: The more generous the stuffing, the juicier and tastier the chicken. Moreover, always remember to tie the chicken legs with a cooking string.
Blends with Red Wine
Red wines have a higher acid content and mix with the little fat from chicken and generous seasonings. If you add extra herbs, you can go for a red burgundy variety.
Salmon is one of the easiest dishes to prepare and one of the quickest to cook. Baked in the oven, salmon is fully cooked at about 15 minutes. Pan frying the fish takes about 10 minutes. You can serve it with kale or other choice greens or veggies. However, salmon enhances its taste and becomes lighter when cooked with olive oil.
Tip: Cooking salmon with the skin on helps crisp the salmon while preventing overcooking.
Blends with Beer
You can try a German pilsner, which is fresh and bitter enough to balance the salmon’s fat. Also, white beers—low-alcohol wheat beers traditionally flavored with orange peel and coriander—mix with any kind of sea food, especially salmon.
Lamb is not a dish you cook every day, but it is easy to prepare. For example, it takes about half an hour to cook a well-done leg of lamb meal, and you do not need to marinate the meat beforehand. There are several options for cooking a leg of lamb, but it shines when cooked with green veggies and herbs. TIP: Lamb leg goes well with garlic and rosemary. Moreover, you can serve it with pesto sauce and a touch of mint.
If you want to try an even fancier dinner, prepare a rack of lamb. Circle B Ranch’s recipe for Pomegranate-Glazed Rack of Lamb will excite any dinner guest with the combined flavors of Pomegranate, rosemary, honey, and orange.
Blends with Cocktails
That sweet and fresh cocktail completes the subtle spicy taste of roast lamb leg. However, the dish is also wine friendly if you don’t choose a dry variety. Go for sweet, fresh and chilly options. Pair the pomegranate-glazed rack of lamb with a white wine to complement the pomegranate flavor.
6. Risotto with Shrimp
Parmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp is a light idea that combines flair with the simplicity of a home-cooked dinner. If you add Parmesan to the risotto and roast the shrimp for 5 minutes before adding them to the risotto, you will get a delightful restaurant-style meal in your home.
Tip: Use the oven for the shrimp and make sure they are pink before adding them to the risotto. Also, serve immediately to enjoy a warm meal.
Blends with Dry Wine
A dry white one is the perfect choice for risotto and shrimp. It will add a sharp flavor to the meal, while keeping the sensation of a complex and delightful treat.
7. Chow Mein
Chow Mein is a Chinese recipe with a touch of Cantonese gourmet. It’s rich in content, and yet light when you consume it. Based on egg noodles, Chow Mein contains bamboo, shrimp, roast pork , chicken, beef and plenty of sauce. It’s also easy to cook and has a little sister – Low Mein.
Tip: Follow the recipe every step of the way. Instructions are important, as you cook the recipe from scratch. Also, remember that al dente means cooked so that is seems ready, not soft.
Blends with Juice
A subtle, not so sweet juice goes perfectly with Chow Mein. Extremely sweet juice will enhance the spicy taste. Instead, choose a fresh one: oranges or tangerines. You can also go for a Sauvignon Blanc, as it is preferred for most Chinese dishes.
Remember, you don’t always need a special occasion to create a delicious and elaborate meal. These seven dish ideas can help you create a special gourmet dinner in your home in no time. Completing them with the suggested drinks will add an extra sparkle if you want to create a restaurant atmosphere.
Don’t forget to include salads or a dessert course to round out the meal, or to choose the healthiest and safest ingredients for the recipes. Choose your meal, purchase its ingredients, prepare your special dinner, and get ready to dine!
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