To me, a dinner party is basically any dinner I cook for extra people and that takes more time than usual. (For example, if you showed up at my house and I fed you a stir fry that I was reheating, that isn’t a dinner party. But, if you showed up and it took more than an hour to cook, that’s a dinner party.)
I’ve run through this menu twice in dinner party-like scenarios now, and I’m convinced it’s a keeper. It’s not very often I find a chicken recipe that people rave about – and this one earned rave reviews even from people who don’t care too much about food!
Other great parts of this menu include:
- The vegetable side can be varied based on the vegetables you have on hand; the general cooking principles and dressing transfer even to what I had in my garden (zucchini, green beans and radishes)
- If prep is done properly, this meal takes only about an hour to assemble. (This was easier the second time around.)
- Because of the way this is put together, it’s really easy to have everything come out hot at the same time. (This is a huge boon to me, since I struggle with end timing.)
So, I give you this summer’s dinner party menu:
Goat cheese-wrapped grapes (as an appetizer)
Simple dessert (a skillet cookie and a fresh fruit crumble both worked nicely)
Tips on preparation:
- Do the sauces/dips earlier that day or the day before, but add the citrus juices and fresh herbs right before you cook. This works for the dressing for the vegetables, mustard stuff for the potatoes, raspberry sauce for the chicken, mustard dip for the chicken and breadcrumb/nut mixture for the chicken. For one dinner I made with this menu, I made the sauces/etc. ahead of time, then packed everything up and made dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen in another state; it worked remarkably well, and everything transported quite nicely.
- The grape appetizer can be made a few hours ahead of time, but it’s not great to leave the grapes overnight. The nuts get soggy if they sit for too long near the cheese.
- When it’s time to cook, prep the veggies first. While you’ll cook them last, they can be chopped and readied first. (You can do the asparagus a few hours ahead of time as well; blanch it beforehand to save time later.)
- The potatoes need to start cooking first. And, although the chicken should ideally be roasted at a lower oven temperature, roasting them at the higher temp after browning them is totally fine. The chicken does not dry out or burn, and you ensure that you can have everything come out on time when the potatoes and chicken are in the oven at the same time.
- Get someone else to help make the drinks; basil french 75s are easy, so someone else can take that off your plate.