Multi-course meals

dinner-party

For our New Year’s Eve murder mystery dinner party I planned a multi-course meal. To be exact I planned 11 courses. However, everyone was so full after the ninth course that we never made it to the final two.

Here is the menu I served up.

MENU

Wood-smoked salmon pâté
Served on baguette

Goat’s cheese tart
Served with Asian-inspired coleslaw

Mexican tomato and bean soup
Served with maneesh and bloomer

Breaded fish
Served with tomato chutney and lettuce

Yorkshire pudding
Served in a Thai red curry sauce on a steak

Meatballs
Served with slow-cooked ratatouille

Carrot, orange and chervil salad

Fruit pie
Served with honeycomb ice cream

Caramel chocolate shortbread

Cheese board
With crackers and grapes

Tea & coffee
Served with chocolate biscuits

Usually I would go for a big bang approach with dinner parties. There may or may not be a starter. Most of the food would arrive with the main course, which might consist of multiple potential centerpiece dishes and many different sides.

This was very difficult to do well. The myriad dishes all had to come out hot at the same time. There was competition for attention in those final minutes and a constant strain on hob and oven space. Then you had to fit everything on the table at the same time, as well as people’s plates, and provide implements for serving everything.

My plan on New Year was to avoid all of this. By breaking everything down into small courses I would eliminate many of these problems. There was be less competition for hob and oven space as every course was spaced half an hour apart and prepared one by one. Dishes were then plated up in the kitchen and bought to the table.

Some of the effort was also wiped our by cheating, or arguably careful planning. Many of the dishes were simply cold for example. There were only four hot dishes: the soup, the fish and the two meat courses. The rest were served at room temperature, or chilled (some in my second fridge: the balcony!). I also pressed my slow cooker into use to make the ratatouille. I was able to prepare this hours in advance, slow cook it and have it sat there ready.

The advantages were clear. Each dish got more attention. Everything could be nicely presented. There was no fighting for oven space. Taking the plates to the table meant that were was plenty of space for people’s drinks, bottles of wine and even an array of candles. Many small courses also allows for more variety in the meal.

The disadvantages were reasonably few. It could be that I spent more time at the kitchen rather than at the table, but it did not feel that way. The biggest problem was plates. You need a lot of them. You either need a lot of them, or the ability to wash and dry them quickly. In the end we used a combination of both.

We bought some high quality disposable plates. They were made of plastic but easily stood being washed up and re-used. Being plastic I could not warm them however. We also had to re-use cutlery.

Overall, I think I am a convert to the multi-course meal. The biggest advantage being it takes the pressure off the one big delivery. It also allows you to spend more time crafting small and varied dishes. I suspect 11 is probably a little over the top though…

Timeline

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2016 at 10:52 am and is filed under Food, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.