French Make-Ahead Menu—Winter Version

Excuse me? You haven’t made my Blanquette de Porc? It’s one of the best recipes in the book! (P.S.: Recipe works beautifully in a 3 1/2-quart Le Creuset Braiser). Photo by Richard Swearinger.

Last summer, I did a make-ahead menu for a great summer dinner party, and a reader asked if I would do the same for the cold-weather months. Well, here it is!

1. Belgian Endive Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
2. Blanquette de Porc with Any-Night Baked Rice
3. Trio of Profiteroles with a Duo of Sauces, page 370 of the Bonne Femme Cookbook

Get everything done in advance, and the day-of-work prep can be done inside of an hour. Here’s how to go about it:

One Day Ahead:
• Make the Blanquette Stew through step 2. Refrigerate the pork and the vegetables separately.
• Make the Profiteroles, but don’t fill them with the ice cream. They freeze BEAUTIFULLY!
• Make the caramel and chocolate sauces for the profiteroles (or buy great-quality sauces) (Trader Joe’s sells a lovely salted-caramel sauce that will work beautifully).

You’ve got the bulk of the work done right there!

Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts. A great salad for winter. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

Day of Party:
• Prep the endive leaves for the Belgian Endive Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese. Wrap in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to use.
• Prep the dressing for the salad. You can let this stand at room temperature if serving within 2 hours. Otherwise, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

• 1 hour before dinner:
• Refresh the profiteroles from their frozen state (about 7 minutes in a 350°F oven)
• Get the Any-Night Baked Rice going. Once it’s finished, it will stay warm for a good half-hour or so if you keep it covered in a warm place.

Profiteroles. Serving the chocolate sauce in a little jar is optional, but cute. Photo by Andy Fjellman.

• Finish the Blanquette stew. At this point, it will be easy to de-fat the pan liquid, as the fat will have solidified–just spoon it off and discard. Bring the pork and pan liquid to a boil and continue with step 3.
• Keep the Blanquette and rice warm while you serve the salad.
• Serve the Blanquette
• Warm the dessert sauces, fill the profiteroles with ice cream; serve.
• Pour more wine, enjoy your friends. And enjoy the accolades.

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