Menu planning help - sweet and savory mix or stick with one?

I am planning a Jewish holiday meal for some friends that happen to be incredible cooks, so I want to make sure my menu is good! We usually serve two mains - a meat and a chicken dish, with many sides and salads...If I do chicken Marbella, what kind of meat dish would compliment that? Do the flavors need to be similar like a savory brisket or is it ok if I do a sweeter meat dish like sweet and sour meatballs? Open to any good suggestions!

  • Posted by: Simone
  • April 11, 2022


Nancy April 11, 2022
Simone -
Just my two cents worth. Will also be interested to hear what others suggest. Have a lovely holiday dinner party1

When menu planning with two mains, I don't usually coordinate them. Rather, I offer contrast for people who have different taste.

For this dinner, if your first anchor is Chicken Marbella (with all its complex fruit and olive flavors), I would go for a very simple beef dish (roast beef or brisket with basically salt and pepper) as a contrast.

Then I would build a menu of classic, simple side dishes that would - surprise - go with both mains but not fight their flavors. Thus, roast potatoes, lovely spring greens (arugula or watercress in salad; fiddleheads or ramps if you can get them; asparagus or artichokes) and maybe another side like roast mushroom or sweet peppers.

Guests choosing either of the mains could use any or all the sides with their choice.

But/and if the side dishes sound too simple to you, add two or three gorgeous spicy sauces to the menu that could be used with the simple beef and sides. Chimichurri, black peppercorn, horseradish sauce, mushroom sauce (if no mushroom side), and so on.

I would avoid serving a second main with sweet and sour notes along side the Chicken Marbella because it would be more of the same symphony. And give no choice to people who don't want fruits and sour on their meat.

Last, for more ideas, here are two lists of possible sides for the two mains.
Simone April 11, 2022
Thank you so much, Nancy! This is all very helpful!
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