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What are Some Difficult Main Dishes to Make?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Difficult main dishes are often not so much a matter of being overly complex to prepare, but rather just very time consuming to complete. Some main dishes need extensive chopping and prep work, while others have many steps that could mean the cook has to start the recipe several days before actually serving it. Timpano, chile en nogada, turducken and cheese souffle can all be considered difficult dishes to prepare in some way.

The only really tough thing about making a cheese souffle is making sure that it rises in the oven instead of falling flat. The egg whites in the batter have to be beaten to the proper stiffness so that the structure of the baked souffle will hold together. Also, the cheese has to be well-grated since any large chunks may fall to the bottom of the delicate souffle.


Turducken is an elaborate, roasted poultry dish thought to be of Louisiana Cajun origin. It consists of a turkey stuffed with a duck which is then stuffed with a chicken. Turducken is considered one of the most difficult main dishes because the amount of preparation time needed could be up to fifteen hours. Some of the bones of the birds have to be carefully removed before roasting so that another bird can fit into the cavity. An herb rub and bread or other stuffing also needs to be prepared and then added to the birds before roasting.

The Mexican stuffed pepper dish chile en nogada may be considered one of the most difficult main dishes to make only because of the many ingredients and steps involved. The cook must start several days ahead by first washing, roasting and then cleaning out the insides of poblano peppers. Many ingredients such as onions, plantains and apples have to be chopped. In addition to a ground beef-based filling, a walnut sauce must be made. Some chile en nogada recipes call for the additional steps of preparing a batter and deep frying the poblano chile peppers.

The traditional Italian dish timpano also has many ingredients and steps. If ingredients such as meatballs, hardboiled eggs and pasta aren't prepared ahead, timpano can be extremely time-consuming to make. Yet, timpano is often one of those difficult main dishes that is well worth the effort because it can also make a great centerpiece on the table. Timpano is multi-layered, rounded and filled with layers of cheese, pasta, meatballs and tomato sauce between layers of dough. The baked timpano is sliced for serving.

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Discussion Comments


@MsClean - I've never attempted to make any of the dishes that were mentioned in this article. I've never even heard of turducken! Sounds like a lot meat that could have been another meal for another night of the week. But then I'm rather frugal when it comes to food and stretching the grocery bill.

I think the most difficult dish I've ever tried to make, even though it's considered a breakfast meal, is eggs benedict. My husband and I absolutely love it and without question it's the first thing we search for on the breakfast menu. After three failed attempts I've learned my lesson, I'll buy you fly, let's order take out.


@babylove - There's a technique involved with oriental cooking and it just takes a little practice and a lot of patience to get it right. Most foods of any other culture than our own are expected to be somewhat challenging.

I have a very good Italian friend who for the life of him cannot grill a decent hamburger. But give him a box of lasagne noodles and a tub of ricotta and he'll whip up the very best lasagne casserole you've ever sunk your teeth into.


@MsClean - Asian dishes have to be at the top of my list. For some reason I just can't seem to get the ingredients right in them. They always turn out too salty or bitter and the vegetables are always way too soft and soggy. I'll stick with American cuisine, even if the recipe requires a lot of preparation, at least I know what I'm doing.


Excellent article! I would have to agree those are all difficult dishes to prepare, if for no other reason than because of the amount of time and preparation involved.

What are some of the most difficult dishes you all have tried make? I think mine would have to be beef wellington. I've tried it twice and both times I ended up throwing out more than half of it because the leftovers were even worse than the original serving.

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