If you are looking for a fantastic holiday main course idea, this Easy Christmas Dinner Menu is it! It has everything going for it. It’s easy, most of it can be prepped in advance. It’s affordable, it uses basic ingredients and doesn’t require any expensive roasts or seafood, and it is so delicious too!
The main course
Is a delicious French dish called a Bouchee a la Reine, made with roasted chicken, sauteed mushrooms, covered in a creamy bechamel sauce, and spooned into puff pastry rounds. You can get extra fancy and add a little Christmasy touch to your puff pastry like a Christmas tree or a star.
I also make Bouchee a La Reine with Lobster which is a fantastic dinner idea for New Years’s Eve, and it too can be prepped ahead of time!
This dish pairs really well with Provencal-style roasted tomatoes and roasted asparagus. Both of which can be prepped in advance and roasted at the same time, saving oven space!
Watch My Video Demo of This
Easy Christmas Dinner Menu Below!
(I’ll even give you a Game Plan for handling the prep!)
Subscribe to My YouTube Channel and Never Miss a Video!
Also featured in this video is my recipe for Salmon Mousse on Cucumber Coins. A wonderful starter to this menu.
STEP#1: Roast the Chicken
What makes this dinner so affordable for 6, is the fact that you can get away with using only 2 chicken breasts. It’s typically the main protein in a menu that drives up the cost! But not with this idea. I like to use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts because it will keep the meat moist and juicy when it comes time to shred it and put it in the sauce.
STEP#2: Make the Mushroom Sauce
Mushrooms are a typical ingredient for Bouche a la Reine, and they are so delicious when cooked down with a little Worcestershire sauce and simmered in white wine and thyme. It gives what could be a simple cream sauce a wonderful depth of flavor.
If you don’t drink you can substitute the wine for chicken broth and 1/2 tsp of lemon zest. The zest gives it just a hint of tang like the wine does but won’t curdle in the sauce the way lemon juice might.
STEP#3: Make the Bechamel Sauce
Bechamel sauce is a classic French sauce that is known as a “Mother-Sauce” because it forms the base of so many other great sauces and recipes. It uses pantry staples of butter, flour, and milk to create the creamiest, most delicious sauce!
STEP#4: Add the Mushrooms and Chicken
Then all you have to do is add the mushrooms and the chicken back into the sauce and it’s that easy!
At this stage allow the sauce to cool down and then transfer it to a container and store in the fridge until ready to serve. This sauce easily reheats just before serving. It will thicken a bit more as it chills, but you can thin it out with a few splashes of milk or chicken broth to get it to the desired consistency.
STEP#5: Prep the Puff Pastry
The puff pastry is what makes this dish so festive and delicious! It becomes the perfect vehicle for soaking up all that delicious sauce! I use an 8-0z ramekin to cut out the circles. The puff pastry will cut a lot easier if it’s in a semi-frozen state. Not too frozen or it will crack, but not too soft or it won’t retain its shape. I find if you take frozen puff pastry and allow it to rest out on your countertop for 30 minutes that’s usually a good place to start.
Cutting the Puff Pastry Rounds
Place the pastry on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. This will prevent the bottoms from getting too browned while keeping the pastry light and flakey. I also find the holidays become that much easier with pre-cut parchment paper sheets!
Decorating the Puff Pastry
Then you can use the scraps of the pastry for cutting out a decorative ornament for the top of your Bouchee a La Reine. I love to use the Christmas trees or a star would be fun and festive too!
Puff Pastry Tips:
Again, the shapes will be easier to cut if the puff pastry isn’t too warm. If it’s become too soft, place it on a sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Once you add the decoration to the puff pastry. It’s also important to brush egg wash on the pastry and under the decoration to make sure it sticks while the pastry rises in the oven.
- You can prep the puff pastry in advance, and cover the tray, and place it in the freezer or refrigerator. Just don’t add the egg wash yet, it’s best to do that just before baking.
- You can bake the pastry up to 2-hours in advance. Allow it to sit out, uncovered at room temperature until ready to serve.
- Baking the pastry ahead of time will free up your oven space for the side dishes below.
How To Get the Best Rise from Puff Pastry?
The secret with puff pastry is to buy it within a few weeks of using it and keep it frozen before ready to use. If it’s too old or has been sitting in the refrigerator, defrosting for too many days, it will lessen its ability to rise and puff up.
STEP#6: Prep the Tomatoes
Bouchee a la Reine is pretty rich and to balance out the richness I like to serve some lighter side dishes. My two favorites with this meal are Provencal-style tomatoes and roasted asparagus. Both can be prepped in advance and if you place them on quarter sheet pans they can also go in the oven at the same time!
Core the Tomatoes
The easiest way to core tomatoes is with a melon baller. For a medium-sized tomato, it takes just one scoop. This is the perfect size to hold a good amount of bread crumb mixture, while still retaining enough tomato interior to soften in the oven when it bakes.
You can core and stuff the tomatoes up to 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate and then all you have to do before serving is pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
STEP#7: Prep the Asparagus
A day ahead you can also prep the asparagus. Just be sure to pat them dry after rinsing to absorb the moisture. They will have a better texture and flavor if the roast dry, tossed with olive oil, and won’t steam up with the excess moisture removed.
Then slice off the woody ends of the asparagus, it will be easier to eat and also contribute to a prettier plate if all the spears are uniform in size.
- Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Then cover loosely with foil and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Then place in the oven during the last 10 minutes of cooking time on the tomatoes.
STEP#8: Plate the Christmas Dinner!
While the side dishes are finishing in the oven, and your sauce is reheating, you can split apart the puff pastry rounds. This is best done with your fingertips as opposed to a knife. The pastry will be easier to split that way and it will preserve its flakey texture too.
Then all you have to do is add the side dishes to the plate and spoon in the sauce!
MORE GREAT HOLIDAY MAINS!
- Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner
- Lobster Thermidor
- Rack of Lamb with Tarragon Dijon Sauce
- Pan-Seared Salmon with Buerre Blanc Sauce
If you Enjoyed this Recipe
Please Leave a Rating and a Review Below!
- 2 chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 2 Tbsp (30g) Butter
- 1/3 cup (50g) shallots, diced
- 8 oz (230g) sliced white mushrooms
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp (10 ml) fresh thyme, minced
- 2 tsp (10ml) Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
FOR BECHAMEL SAUCE:
- 3 Tbsp (45g) butter
- 2 Tbsp (15g) flour
- 2 cups (475 ml)of milk
- ¾ tsp (3.75ml) salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 6 Medium-Sized Tomatoes on the vine
- 2 Tbsp (30ml) panko bread crumbs
- ½ tsp (2.5ml) olive oil
- Pinch of Herbs de Provence (or dried Thyme, or Basil)
- 2 bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed off
- 1 Tbsp (15ml) olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Roast chicken at 375F (190C) for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
In a large non-stick skillet, melt the 2 Tbsp of butter, add shallots and cook until translucent and fragrant. Then add mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms wilt and have turned a deep golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then add the thyme, the Worcestershire sauce and the wine. Reduce slightly until wine is mostly evaporated. Set aside to cool.
Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the chicken off the bone with two forks into bit-sized pieces until you get 2 cups. Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the bechamel sauce, In a deep skillet, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. Then add the salt, the garlic, and freshly cracked pepper.
Add in the cooked mushroom mixture to the bechamel sauce. Add the chicken. Stir to combine. Taste or seasoning. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Allow to cool and then transfer to a container and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For the puff pastry, roll it out on a floured surface. Cut out 6 circles (with the help or a bowl) around 5 inches in diameter. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use the puff pastry scrapes the cut out a small Christmas tree shape or star around 2-inch in size.
Place the shape in the center of the circle and brush the beaten egg on the pastry round affixing the shape in the center. Be careful not to brush the edges of the round with the egg or it will prevent the pastry from puffing up.
Bake at 400F (200C) for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Can rest on the countertop, uncovered for 1 hour.
Mix together the panko bread crumbs with the oil, herbs de Provence salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Meanwhile, keep the oven set at 400F. Prep the tomatoes. Slice off the tops, and scoop the core out with a melon baller. Fill each tomato with the panko bread mixture. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, place the asparagus on a tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, reheat the sauce until hot. Thin with a little milk if needed. Then gently pull apart the puff pastry round, by pulling apart the top from the bottom, to split into two halves. Place the bottom on the puff pastry on the bottom, spoon the sauce over, then place the top on.
The secret with puff pastry is to buy it within a few weeks of using it and keep it frozen before ready to use. If it's too old or has been sitting in the refrigerator, defrosting for too many days, it will lessen its ability to rise and puff up.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Patisse Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter set made of stainless steel, Set of 5
Ramekin Bowls 8OZ,WERTIOO 8 PCS Bakeware Set for Baking and Cooking, Oven Safe Sleek Porcelain Colorful Ramikins for Pudding, Creme Brulee, Custard Cups and Souffle Small instant table tray
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Quarter Sheet, 2-Pack
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 459mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 19g