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Matching side dishes with entrees


JAZ
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This topic got me thinking about how I decide on side dishes to match mains, or vice versa. In some cases I always have the same combinations -- for instance, when I have macaroni and cheese (which I eat as a main dish), I always have broccoli florets in a mustard vinaigrette with it. I make a Normandy style pork dish with apples and a cider cream sauce that I almost always pair with sweet and sour braised cabbage. But with other dishes, I change the accompaniments. I have some side dishes that I think of as "universal donors" because they go with a lot of different proteins, and there are some main dishes that can go with a wide variety of side dishes.

So do you have combinations you won't change? How do you decide what goes with what?

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I try to keep within ethnicities if possible, so if I'm using (for example) turkish spices in my main, I'll accompany it with something seasoned appropriately, or with something also relatively turkish. If I have a pretty rich or heavy main, I will try to make the accompaniments lighter, and/or acidic to cut through the richness.

Ham needs mashed potatoes. No exceptions. And I almost always serve braised chard with steak. But other than that, it it tastes good, it's fair game.

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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i visualize the plate. does it need a pop of color? what shapes are already there, and what would complement? also, of course, flavors and weight--a rich main equals lighter sides. as Genkinaonna mentioned, i try not to go too multi-ethnic, most of the time.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

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I try to keep within ethnicities if possible, so if I'm using (for example) turkish spices in my main, I'll accompany it with something seasoned appropriately, or with something also relatively turkish. If I have a pretty rich or heavy main, I will try to make the accompaniments lighter, and/or acidic to cut through the richness.

Ham needs mashed potatoes. No exceptions. And I almost always serve braised chard with steak. But other than that, it it tastes good, it's fair game.

Interesting - in my world - ham needs scalloped potatoes, turkey needs mashed.

Two Thanksgivings ago my SIL fed us at their place and she asked me to bring scalloped potatoes to go with the turkey - which of course I did. But I brought along some mashed - cause my rug rat eats them more easily - and I noticed my dad went straight for the mashed!

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I can't imagine sausages without corn and I'm firmly in the scalloped potatoes with ham and mashed with turkey & chicken. I also always eat corn with ham. I also like a green vegetable with fish - asparagus or sugar snap peas come to mind.

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Potato Salad or French Fries with Burgers.

Pork and Beans with Hot Dogs.

Mash Potatoes, Gravy and Peas with Baked or Roasted Chicken or Turkey.

Green Beans, Bacon and Onions with Braised or Grilled Pork (Butt) Steak.

Potatoes, Carrots and Onions with Beef Pot Roast.

ETA: must have Scalloped Potatoes with Ham.

Edited by robirdstx (log)
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Roast Turkey must have mashed potatoes, and breaded, fried fish must have scalloped potatoes. These are my only hard and fast rules.

After that, I'll gleefully match things based on flavour (multi-ethnic? bring it on!) and complimentary tones. I tend to pair acid or dry (alkaline) with heavy creams/rich sauces, and cool sides with spicy mains. I hold that all meals are improved by adding a salad course, and I refuse to serve anything without at least a bit of veggies on the plate. If I'm cooking for more than just my family, I'll also do as ChezCherie suggests and visualise the impact of the plates - I'll add colourful veg to otherwise visually bland plates every single time.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Almost everything I ever learned about menu planning I learned at the sushi bar. After a few bites of one thing, what taste or texture or look do you want next? Onto the next choice. That's how I plan side dishes and menus.

I don't keep to certain sides with certain main dishes myself (though the combos people are posting here sound very good). That's because I cook new things all the time, so I'm imagining or improvising new side dishes for them. I also like to empty my fridge of CSA produce or my impulsive grocery purchases, and that often determines what shows up at the table. Most of the time, when I do cook something again, I don't remember the side that I last served with it. :huh: So it's on the next new thing.

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I like hotdogs with baked beans and wavy potato chips.

Turkey needs dressing/stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Chili and cornbread.

But I can happily eat combinations of different foods depending on what my mood is - I do love potlucks for this very reason.

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I use cookbooks that present entire meals and those give me ideas for what to serve together even though they aren't all in the same meal in the book, I can pick from categories. The three books that help me plan for sides are Julia Child and Company, The Best of Beard and Culinary Artistry.

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What a fun thread! I like to vary mains and sides, but there are some things that do seem to especially complement each other.

My mum taught me always to serve some sort of potato (boiled, mashed) with fish. Something to do with the possibility of catching a small bone in your throat. It made sense at the time.

Let's not forget grilled cheese & tomato soup.

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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I think about color and flavor primarily.

I'm not afraid to go cross-ethnic. Sometimes my brain surprises even me.

Two examples:

4902461903_694c994e65_o.jpg

Baked rainbow trout, with slow-roasted tomato "compote" and coconut rice

The rice is technically Indian and the "compote" is Italian.

Everything meshed well, I thought.

3481936896_23f1b223cc_o.jpg

Roast cod, sautéed shiitake mushrooms and ramps, pan-fried potatoes

I needed something to offset the mushrooms and ramps, and that wouldn't overwhelm the delicate vegetables. Potatoes are a workhorse in my kitchen since they fulfill many functions.

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I think about color and texture, and making sure that heavier or spicier dishes are balanced by those that are simpler/cleaner or plainer. If there's sauce, I always want a starch that will absorb some.

With the exceptions, of course, of ham, scalloped potatoes, and baked beans (must have these three together), stuffed pork chops with applesauce.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Saltier mains get the sweeter veg as sides (carrots, or sweet potatoes or corn).

Sweeter mains (barbecue sauce, tomato sauce etc) get salty/tangy greens for contrast.

Color and shape, if I'm really thinking things thru.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Ham requires scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach -- sauteed apples on the side. (Or my friend Marianne's applesauce, pink because she adds a few Red Hot cinnamon candies.)

Turkey: Mashed potatoes, sauted brussel sprouts, cranberry chutney, and two kinds of dressing: sage/breadcrumb in the cavity, cornbread/sausage on the side.

Apple pie ain't apple pie without sharp cheddar.

Chicken ala Cacciatore must be served over polenta -- they're soulmates.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I tend to think on variations of protein + carb/starch (optional) + green thing, and a lot of times my go to green thing is just a big mess of whatever veg sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Works for boy choy, chard, asian greens, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, anything really. Either that, or the heartier veggies are roasted.

I like sliced cucs in rice vinegar with just about any kind of curry or indian main dish. I like creamy potato dishes with pork (and I LOVE gratin dauphinois with pan cooked pork chops). I like sweet potatoes with salmon, and regular potatoes with steak.

In the summer, now that CSA season is starting, I find that it's easy to look at the veggies and decide what protein matches. So like this week I got radishes, and I've been meaning to try Molly Steven's butter braised radishes, and that sounded like a good accompaniment to mild white fish and some quinoa/brown rice.

I also like things made into one dish salads, or a big pot of hearty soup, so there is no worry about a side dish. (I discovered that not every soup/salad needs garlic bread.)

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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