Chocolate Feast for Five

For some people, entertaining is a way to conduct business, for others it’s a way to flaunt domestic prowess. For me, it’s a simple matter of time. Between work and writing for this blog, I don’t have a lot of time to socialize. Since I always need to develop new recipes to keep the posts coming, bringing a diverse groups of friends together at my dinner table, let’s me catch up on their lives, while providing me with new material to write about.

Call me selfish, but since face-time with my friends is my primary motivation for entertaining, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all night making dinner. At the same time, I wouldn’t be caught dead serving reheated food. My solution is to put the dinner table close to where I’m cooking. That way, I can prepare a great meal while catching up on all the latest tidbits of my friends’ lives.

A serendipitous consequence is that my friends also get a front row view of dinner being made. It gives them a chance to feel like a part of the experience, even if they aren’t cooking and it also allows them to ask questions about something that normally goes on behind closed doors.

Some might see this as a sign of bigger issues, but I always have more fun at parties that have plenty of alcohol. It’s a social lubricant, and for an introvert like me, it’s just the kick in the pants I need to venture out of my comfort zone and meet some new people. That’s why I always keep my fridge stocked with beer, and at least a bottle each of red and white wine. If guests insist on bringing something, I let them know that they’re free to bring more alcohol. This means I almost always end up with more alcohol than when I started:-)

I also like to get things started by coming up with a cocktail or two to hand to guests as they walk in the door. Making cocktails is a bit like cooking in that it doesn’t require measuring. My usual formula for a good cocktail is to incorporate the four S’s: something strong (i.e. your choice of liquor), something sweet (this could be simple syrup, flavored liqueur, and/or juice), something smelly (I use everything from basil to tea leaves here), and something sour (usually citrus juice, but I’ve used rhubarb juice, balsamic vinegar, etc). Aside from being a fun way to express your creativity, cocktails make for a great conversation starter.

This particular dinner party was centered around chocolate. I’m not talking about a red mole where you sneak a bit of chocolate in at the end. This was a full-on brown barrage, with some form of chocolate making it into every dish except the dessert. Here’s what I made:

Apricot Glazed Goose with Chocolate Gravy and Chocolate Mashed Potatoes – I love goose because it’s flavorful and moist like duck, and yet it’s big enough to feed eight people. To get the beautiful crispy glazed skin, I just roasted the goose with salt and pepper first, then glazed it with apricot jam, before returning it to the oven for a final few minutes. I served this with chocolate mashed potatoes and chocolate gravy, made with stock from the neck of the goose.

Cacao Chestnut Stuffing – Stuffing is always better when it’s actually stuffed in a bird, soaking up all the juices dripping off the meat as it cooks. Goose has a cavernous opening that’s perfect for filling with stuffing. This chocolaty chow includes apricots soaked in sherry, sausage, celery, chestnuts and cacao nibs. While it’s tough to go wrong with bread soaked in meat juices, this one was especially good.

Fatback and Chocolate Syrup Brussels Sprouts – Not much more to this than shredded brussels sprouts, cooked with bits of fatback (salted pork fat), and chocolate sauce. The fatback releases enough oil to pan roast the brussels sprouts, and a bit of chocolate sauce added at the end helps with the caramelization, turning this much-reviled cabbage into a delicious mess.

Haricots Vert with Chocolate Butter and Smoked Salt – These green beans include just 4 ingredients, but they taste much more complex. The coco powder in the butter gives them a wonderful nutty flavor, while the smoked sea salt adds a ton of character to these otherwise ordinary legumes.

Tarte Bourdaloue – Since every other course involved chocolate, the only way to keep the surprises coming was to do a dessert that didn’t involve chocolate. This tarte bourdaloue seemed like the perfect creamy end to a decadent chocolate-filled menu. The buttery crust filled with pears, almond frangipane, and custard didn’t last long, and soon there were only crumbs remaining.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Very impressive menu. I love how you showed the versatility of chocolate. I have always loved adding a bit to chili, but this is very creative. Nice work!

  • Karen

    Wow! Looks amazing– I love savory applications of chocolate. Lucky friends!

  • Biz

    Congrats on making it to round 3! That’s one thing that sucks about my kitchen – its tiny and in the back of our house – I feel isolated sometimes when I cook.

    Glad you had such a wonderful dinner!

  • Lori Lynn

    Brilliant Marc! So unique. I long to cook a goose one day…
    I will definitely be back to vote for you. Kudos to you for such a daring menu. I bet your friends were blown away!
    Good luck!

  • Sharlene

    Oh my goodness what a menu! So rich and full of flavor I’m so jealous of all your friends who were able to partake in this meal! Good luck on round 3. The competition looks fierce but you never cease to impress.

  • sippitysup

    You prove time and time a gain… what an excellent cook you really are! GREG

  • Thelittlefoodie

    Holy cow. What a genius you are. You’re going to WIN!

  • Leinana

    This is such a gorgeous post. Beautiful photos, beautiful food – you’ve definitely got my vote!

  • Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

    Great minds think alike! I also served a chocolate-based menu and my guests loved it! Wonderful menu… good luck! :)

  • Noelle

    I would totally come to your party! Wonderful menu! You have my vote.

  • Muneeba

    Good lord … chocolate feast indeed! The goose looks divine … and I want to slather your chocolate butter all over me 😀

  • Amy (Sing For Your Supper)

    Oh wow, what a beautiful party! And I love your drink formula- I’ll have to remember that! You’ve got my vote (as always!)! Best of luck!

  • Amy K.

    i think you forgot to mention something about having alcohol…oh, oops….

    mmm….sounds and looks delish. can i get an invite next time? i’m just across the river. i’ll bring a bottle of booze, i promise! 😉

  • Natty

    Gorgeous pictures! I’m with you on the cocktails and I’m a big fan of champagne cocktails. Some cheap bubbly + a sugar cube + two dashes of bitters = a very merry beginning to a party!

  • Isabelle

    Any dinner party that revolves around chocolate gets my vote! :) Great job on this one… the chocolate butter on the haricots verts sounds really delicious, albeit unusual.

  • Whitney moss

    Goose, now that is a very unique and creative choice for a dinner party! I am quite impressed!!

  • Styleyourfood

    wow each dish looks so amazing. congratulations on your accomplishment.

  • Baking Barrister

    Chocolate mashed potatoes…? I’m thinking that’s even weirder than the garlic chocolate truffles I made. As a chocolate lover, though, I would have loved to be in your kitchen watching you cook this up. And then eating it–especially the skin on that goose. Gorgeous.

  • Lick My Spoon

    This meal would put Willy Wonka to shame, very impressive. Something about a motif menu makes it so much cooler. Good luck this week, voting for you!

  • Joan Nova

    The chocolate component in all those dishes certainly qualifies for the “new and exotic”. I’m voting.

  • cabbagetree solutions

    WOW. THis looks amazing. Thanks for posting.

  • Tangled Noodle

    An incredible menu with perhaps the most appealing ingredient theme imaginable! I’ll have the whole goose, please. Just voted!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you about face time with friends being my primary motivation for dinner parties. Hee hee, that’s why I invited my friends to come cook with me. :) I like the chocolate-themed dishes, and, as always, the photography is stunning and the tips are really helpful. :)

  • Heather

    Very innovative cuisine. Nice job!

  • Brooke

    I agree. Having enough beer and wine on hand is important in entertaining. So are cocktails. The food looks gorgeous. What a tasty meal!

  • Crystal’sCozyKitchen

    I absolutely love the theme of your dinner party – who wouldn’t love to have chocolate in every course!? I gave you a big red heart. Good luck!

  • Daily Spud

    I have been meaning to try chocolate mashed potatoes ever since I got the recommendation from Willie Harcourt-Cooze (a cocoa farmer and now chocolate maker in the UK with a few chocolate cookbooks to his name) – I really will have to give it a try now. Do you have any particular recommendations or thoughts on the chocolate + spuds combination?

    • Anonymous

      I used unsweetened cocoa powder, but I supposed you could throw in some
      unsweetened chocolate. The extra fat might be nice. Also, you don’t want to
      put in so much that the potatoes turn bitter. The earthy chocolate, creamy
      butter and nutty potatoes go so well together. Especially when topped with
      some chocolate gravy;-)

      • DailySpud

        Thanks Marc, am definitely going to experiment with that one (and continued good luck in PFB btw)

  • angi c

    Yum – chocolate, lots of alcohol, and roast goose – what a party! To be honest, when I saw the title of your post, I did think “Oh I bet he’s going to make mole” but I stand corrected. The full-on chocolate assault looks glorious – can I get an invite next time? :)

  • Heena @ Tiffin Tales

    Beautiful as always. That’s one menu I would have loved to taste. My vote’s in. Good luck!

  • Jessica

    It all looks delicious! Yum! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  • Smckee

    Did your guests experience any side effects? I once had a chocolate tasting party (as many chocolates with upwards of 65% cacao as I could find in Portland, OR, at the time), and even though I had very small pieces, I had very surreal, technicolor dreams. The next morning also felt strange, even though nothing specifically hurt.

  • Charmaine @ Speakeasy Kitchen

    People don’t use chestnuts often enough. You get my vote because you did. And because I love your blog.

  • Amelia Z Tasty Life
  • Rachel

    Um, chocolate butter? I hereby grant you a Nobel Peace Prize for discovering how to get kids to ALWAYS eat their vegetables. Your menu is beyond fantastic and you have my vote-again. Cheers!

  • Marisa

    Chocolate for everything – AWESOME!

  • bellini valli

    Good luyck in the competition Marc. This is a winning combination indeed.

  • Dana

    I’ve often said I could eat chocolate for every meal, and you’ve made it possible with this menu!! Great job on this challenge… good luck!

  • Oui, Chef

    A very original and adventurous meal plan, and I love the unexpected lack of chocolate in your dessert. If I may ask, what was your favorite dish out of the entire meal?

    • Anonymous

      Hmm that’s a tough call. I think it may have been the mashed potatoes and
      gravy (I’m a simple guy with simple tastes at heart and really the potatoes
      are an excuse to eat more gravy), but the stuffing comes in at a close
      second, and of course goose with a crispy sweet glazed skin
      is irresistible.

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