Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall wedding entrees -- from duck with pear sauce to ravioli stuffed with pumpkin

Swiss chard, pumpkin and pomegranate
Fall wedding menus include Swiss chard, pumpkin and pomegranate
By guest blogger Sharon Naylor

This is the second in a multi-part series by Sharon Naylor on fall wedding topics. (Read her first piece on fall wedding cocktail stations here.)

Fall is rich in color, texture and taste, and that’s why autumn weddings are known to have some of the best catering inspiration. The cooler weather calls for warmer, creamier culinary creations, each sensationally satisfying -- way more enticing than a sliver of prosciutto draped across a thin half circle of melon as is the usual summer main course.

Here, we’ll get your mouth watering with just some of the top entrée trends in fall fare. Before we do, though, keep in mind that seasonal foods are fresh and fabulous now, so chefs build their autumn entrees around the creamy, crunchy, colorful experiences of the following in-season produce items:

•    Acorn squash
•    Apples
•    Belgian endive
•    Butternut squash
•    Cauliflower
•    Figs
•    Garlic
•    Ginger
•    Grapes
•    Mushrooms
•    Pears
•    Pomegranates
•    Pumpkin
•    Sweet potatoes
•    Swiss chard

While it may look like we just built a shopping list for side dishes and salads -- and while that is quite true! -- these seasonal tastes elevate the standard chicken, pasta, pork, beef and even seafood that you find on your caterer’s entrée choice sheet. Your cheaper chicken breasts become expensive-tasting -- but not actually expensive -- extravagances if your caterer dreams up a pear and mushroom ragout and serves the entire entrée over a bed of cauliflower gratin, with a tower of fried sweet potato straws on top.

As I mentioned in my earlier post on fall cocktail party stations, it always impresses guests and makes it look like you spent more when you dream up dishes that the guests don’t cook for themselves. You don’t need lobster tails and foie gras to impress your loved ones. A pumpkin and goat cheese-filled ravioli entrée will impress beyond measure, because it’s delicious and different.

Here are some fall entrée inspirations to share with your caterer:

•    Apple smoked bacon-wrapped filet mignon
•    Cabernet Sauvignon-sauced prime rib with horseradish sauce
•    Medallions of beef in Marsala sauce with a trio of mushroom types
•    Beef brisket served three ways: barbecue, clove and horseradish

•    Chicken Marsala
•    Cheese-crusted chicken with a creamy stone-ground mustard sauce
•    Chicken parmigiana with three different cheeses
•    Chicken roulades, stuffed with mushroom, garlic and apple stuffing and topped with a creamy chicken gravy, served over mushroom risotto
•    Grilled chicken breasts with a Brie, artichoke and spinach sauce
•    Ravioli filled with pumpkin and diced chicken
•    Cornish game hens, prepared traditionally with seasonal side dishes

Other poultry:
•    Duck breast with ginger apricot sauce
•    Sweet and sour duck breast on noodles with pumpkin sushi on the side
•    Duck with pear sauce and greens
•    Turkey breast topped with Marsala sauce
•    Turkey medallions topped with cranberry and pomegranate sauce
•    Turkey with maple cranberry glaze

•    Pork loin stuffed with sausage and sage stuffing
•    Pork medallions in a creamy Alfredo sauce with a trio of mushrooms
•    Crown roast of pork, served with a creamy mushroom and garlic sauce, or gourmet applesauce
•    Shredded pork in barbecue sauce, with crunchy diced apples and pears mixed in, served on a bed of risotto.

•    Salmon with a crab and breadcrumb stuffing
•    Breaded tilapia with a lobster bisque sauce, served over risotto
•    Shrimp parmigiana, with a generous amount of jumbo, butterfly shrimp on each plate
•    Lobster ravioli with a creamy crab and mushroom sauce
•    Lobster tail stuffed with sausage and sweet potato stuffing

Game meats:
•    Venison medallions in a Marsala sauce
•    Venison steaks with horseradish sauce on a bed of Swiss chard
•    Venison medallions with a creamy mustard sauce

•    Ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and goat cheese
•    Ravioli stuffed with lobster, spinach and goat cheese
•    Ravioli stuffed with Brie and mushrooms
•    Manicotti with a creamy seafood sauce on top
•    Angel hair pasta with meat medallions and a fall veggie sauce on top
•    Angel hair pasta with clams and mussels
•    Veggie lasagna
•    Ravioli with apple smoked sausage and goat cheese filling
•    Ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, mushrooms and lobster
•    Penne in vodka sauce with a fall veggie medley
•    Mushroom-filled gnocchi  

Sharon Naylor is the author of "1001 Ways to Save Money and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” as well as over 35 additional wedding planning books for brides, bridesmaids and the moms.

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