One Pro’s Tips to Dazzling Your Dinner Guests

One Pro’s Tips to Dazzling Your Dinner Guests

One Pro’s Tips to Dazzling Your Dinner Guests

Chef Jon Liddell knows how to make entertaining look easy (even for the least culinary minded). Here are his tips for culinary nirvana.

Photo courtesy of Monogram.

As the Executive Chef for Monogram Design Center in Chicago at Luxe Home in the Merchandise Mart, Chef Jon Liddell spends his time making dishes that will dazzle. He whips up culinary delights using the latest Monogram appliances. We asked him how to trick anyone into think you’re a master chef this fall season and he shared two recipes even a novice could nail

What tips do you have for someone who maybe isn’t the best chef, but is trying to whip up an impressive dish?
Pick out your favorite flavor, whether it be a spice, herb, or cuisine. Then find a recipe that includes it and no more than 4 other ingredients. Again, braising will usually give you a great ending flavor with the least work and worry, so stick to that technique. Lastly, serve it on a large platter or plate and don’t over do it. Leave some empty spaces to admire your work. A nicely braised chicken thigh atop a simple rice or potato garnished with asparagus looks great when it doesn’t take up every inch of the plate.

What are some of your favorite dishes to cook for fall? (and how do Monogram products make it easier)?
Usually, fall means I am transitioning from my grill to my oven and coquette for fall braised dishes. It also means pumpkin! Lately, I’ve been working on my pumpkin stout braised beef short ribs. I love to sear them using a sweet Italian dry rub and a spicy hoppy beer. I add chunks of fresh pumpkin and make a rich pan gravy after braising them in the oven for 4 hours at 225 degrees. There’s something about filling the house full of deep fall aromas that takes the edge off of the cold weather. The even heating on the Monogram Induction cooktop to does a perfect searing job. The induction technology connects directly to the entire surface of the coquette providing an even sear on every short rib section. After the searing, the built-in Monogram wall oven delivers precise temperature control through convection cooking, while the oven itself holds the moisture of the dish in place.

What’s your go-to entertaining dish? What do you serve when you want to impress?
You can’t go wrong with bacon. I have a spicy bacon brittle that is always a hit. It’s very simple, but from the name to the flavor it’s a crowd pleaser. For a dinner party, I always turn to my goat cheese fresco. It’s so simple but sits on every guest’s taste buds as something that must have taken forever to derive that deep flavor. Sometimes it’s a course or more than likely served family style at my house.

Spicy Bacon Brittle


12 oz. thick cut bacon
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Preheat your oven on convection bake to 400 degrees.

Cut the bacon in half and arrange it on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Bake the bacon for 15 minutes then carefully drain away the rendered fat from the tray. Generously sprinkle the sugar mixture over the bacon and continue baking for another 8 minutes or until the sugar mix has melted.

Remove the bacon from the tray after it has fully cooled and enjoy.

Goat Cheese Fresco

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup diced onion
1 pound sliced seasonal mushrooms
3 minced garlic cloves
1 ½ cups green peas
1 bunch chopped thyme and rosemary
1 pound fresh pasta
3 tablespoons grappa
¾ pound aged raw goat cheese
¾ quart mushroom cream
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.

Add the onions and mushrooms, then cook for 4 minutes, while stirring.

Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

Pour in the Grappa and herbs, then let simmer for 1 minute.

Add the mushroom cream, peas, and cheese, then stir over medium-high heat for 4 minutes.

Lastly, stir in the pasta and continue cooking until it is heated through and the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Content in partnership with Monogram Appliances