A Downton Abbey Inspired Dinner

A Downton Abbey Inspired Dinner

I am a HUGE fan of the Downton Abbey series, and was very eagerly waiting for the start of season 3 to come to the US. (Yes, I know it is available in the UK and can be streamed online, but I like the whole ritual of waiting for the new episodes to air here.)   I do have to admit, I'm less excited about the changing costuming to reflect the 1920's, which is not my favorite clothing era; I really, really love the Edwardian era clothes, and the glamour and richness of the styles. The 20's styles are so boyish and designed to hide the female figure,  which makes them seem very rectangular and shapeless and... boring. But, maybe DA will manage to sway my feelings on this.  In any case, I was very excited for the airing of the opening episode for season 3, and so I decided to plan a Downton Abbey themed dinner to eat while I watched the show. One of the things that separates a formal dinner from a typical dinner is the number of courses, which can range from three to as many as twenty-one.  And the courses are served one at a time, instead of the more casual salad followed by everything else on a single plate approach.  Having the courses separately allows for each dish to be enjoyed in and of itself, without the distraction of many choices.  I also like the idea of multiple courses because I like a lot of variety in my dinner; while I like eating an all in one meal, macaroni and cheese, for example, I do appreciate several different menu items to make dinner more interesting.  I often eat dinner in courses because of that, but I thought it would be fun to stretch it out further than I normally do,  and include even more courses. Finally, in creating my Downton Abbey menu, I looked at typical British recipes for that era, and wanted to try some of the dishes that were more commonly served then that are less likely to be served today, mostly due to the more labor intensive preparations, as well as less commonly available ingredients.

First Course, Hors d'Oeuvres / Starter

Blue cheese and caramelized onion tart.  Red and white onions are caramelized in butter, then sauteed with garlic before being nestled in a buttery, flaky pate brisee shell; they are topped with crumbled Stilton blue cheese, then fresh cream and egg are mixed together and poured into the tart. After being finished with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt, the tarts are baked until golden brown, flaky, and melt in your mouth magical.

 

Second Course, Soup

Cream of Watercress Soup.  Onion is sauteed in butter until tender, then chicken stock is added, along with diced potato. Fresh watercress is added only to be briefly simmered before cream is added and the soup is blended with an immersion blender until thickened and creamy.

 

Third Course, Entree

Steak Chausseur with Pommes Noisette.  A thick ribeye steak, sous vided to medium-rare, then quickly pan seared in butter; topped with sauteed mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in an red wine and beef stock reduction sauce. The pommes noisette are potatoes cut into round shapes, blanched, then sauteed in butter until golden brown, then topped with sea salt and fresh parsley.

 

Fourth Course, Salad 

Fresh, silky red leaf lettuce topped with fresh orange segments, sliced avocado, red onion, Stilton cheese, and a blue cheese dressing.

I debated on preparing a fifth course, which would have been a dessert, but I opted to eat and watch the show instead.   This was my first time making watercress soup, and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. Watercress doesn't have a lot of flavor, it's almost like a spinach without the bright acidic tang of spinach. The soup is thickened with potato, which adds body without greatly altering the flavor, and so the result is a lovely, creamy soup without aggressive flavors. The watercress seems to bring out more of the richness of the cream, instead of overshadowing it with a stronger flavor profile.   I will definitely make this again!  The pommes noisette are definitely labor intensive; the balls of potato are cut with a melon baller, which doesn't do a very good job of making perfect circles.  I'll have to look for a solution to that, because I do love how these turned out.  The round potato balls are blanched in boiling water, then dried before being sauteed in clarified butter to finish cooking them.  The outside of each one is a bit crisp and golden brown and buttery; the insides are soft and silky.  Paired with the melt in the mouth ribeye with it's rich sauce, it was absolutely magical.  This was a superb dinner, and I am looking forward to trying more Downton Abbey themed menus as season three unfolds!  I haven't bought a new cookbook in a while, and I have my eye on the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook!

 

 

Comments

Sarah
I am a fan of DA also, and just love your menu, each course presented so beautifully. I didn't know the British ate salads, so that's a bit of information to tuck away for future dinners. So yummy!

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