Between now and the end of the year, I’m sure many of you will be entertaining others with dinner. Here is a fool-proof, delicious dinner menu for eight. I prepared this exact menu last Saturday evening for our Christmas with Big Guy’s family. I prepped many of the ingredients the night before which made execution of dinner less stressful.
Pomegranate Cheese Ball
Roast Beef Tenderloin with Cognac Butter
Carrot Mash with Crème Fraîche
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Slow-Fried Shallots
I chose to go with the sparkling cider cocktail for cocktail hour because it’s incredibly simple with only two ingredients. We had a wine pairing planned for dinner so I wanted something sparkling. Sparkling Cider is simply prosecco topped with spiced apple cider (Trader Joe’s brand is my absolute favorite and I stock up every fall). I also prepped the cheese ball the night before except for the pomegranate seeds. Roll the cheese ball in the pomegranate seeds right before serving for best results. Since I had made the cheese ball the night before, I took it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving so that the cheese could soften a bit.
The tenderloin is super easy to prep – and this was done about an hour before we were going to put it in the oven. However, I made the cognac butter Saturday morning after letting the butter soften on the counter over night. We doubled the amount of beef that we cooked to make sure there was plenty and so that there would be leftovers for the coming week.
The only thing I prepped in advance for the carrots was slicing the carrots the night before and chopping the green onions. I stored both in airtight containers so they were ready when I was on Saturday.
And to round out the dinner prep, I shredded the Brussels the night before and sliced the shallots and stored those in zip lock bags in the fridge.
Thanks to all my prep work, getting dinner on the table was a breeze. Big Guy was in charge of the seasoning the tenderloin and making sure it was cooked to perfection (medium-rare). The great thing about tenderloin is that if there are folks that prefer their meat more well-done, the slices at the ends are perfectly cooked to their likeness. I sliced up the cognac butter and placed it on a serving dish. The carrots simmered away as the beef was roasting and then mashed with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached. I decided against pulling out the food processor and left them a little chunky. While the carrots simmer, prepare the crème fraîche mixture. And finally it was time the prepare the Brussels. The shallots are fried in a low-temperature skillet with canola oil until crispy. It takes about 10 minutes and the texture is unbelievable. I didn’t start cooking the Brussels until after the beef was taken out of the oven to rest as I didn’t want to risk soggy Brussels.
The end result was a gorgeous plate full of flavor. The butter was the perfect compliment to the tender, lean cut of beef. While cognac isn’t a liquor that I typically drink or keep on hand, it paired beautifully with the butter and beef. The carrots were tender yet bright and tangy. I adored the addition of orange zest to the carrots – such a great twist on the typical sweet potato side dish. And finally the Brussels. Honestly, it’s a no frills recipe but the fried shallots make the side dish incredibly rich without being heavy.
To say that it was a successful dinner would be an understatement.
And while I love to create my own menus, having a menu to follow was such a life saver as far as my sanity. I was able to enjoy a stress-free dinner instead of worrying about the food.