Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner party

If there's one word I can use it describe me in the kitchen, it would be flustered. Though I should know better, I frequently don't read recipes carefully enough and am scrambling for ingredients halfway through the recipe. Add in multiple dishes, and while everything gets done in the end, it looks like a bomb went off in the kitchen, and I'm usually so stressed out I can't enjoy the meal.

We had friends over for dinner recently, and I wanted to make something special, but at the same time, I was determined to not be a mess through the whole process. So I thought through the dishes and how I wanted to prepare for the meal, and I'm happy to say everything went off with aplomb! For anyone else considering hosting a dinner party who's also organizationally challenged, I laid out how I went about the process. I hope it helps.

The menu:

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes - this is a GREAT company dish because not only is the chicken FAAAAAAABULOUS, but it's really 2 dishes in one! Red potato wedges roast below the chicken as it's cooking. MMMMMM!
Pioneer Woman's Whiskey-Glazed Carrots - these are just so, so tasty. I eat your carrots! I EAT THEM UP!
Green Salad
Bread (baguette from the grocery store)
Apple Crisp
Not really part of dinner, but we made what I call the Lazy Man's Mojito. It's a slushy mixture of vodka, mint leaves, and limeade. Seriously delicious.

The night before:
  • Brine the chicken. Once complete, pat dry and place on a plate and put back in the fridge. The next day, make sure to turn it over so the entire surface of the chicken has a chance to dry.
The morning of:
  • Chop the carrots. Place in a bowl or large plastic bag and refrigerate.
  • Cut the potatoes. Place in a bowl and refrigerate.
Around 3:30:
  • Set out butter in butter dish to soften.
  • Place remaining ingredients that go with potatoes per the recipe in the bowl (garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper). Set aside.
  • Prepare garlic-rosemary paste. Insert under chicken skin. Brush chicken with olive oil and pepper.
  • Take out roasting pan and lightly spray rack. Place prepared chicken on rack and set aside (or refrigerate if it's too early to put in the oven).
  • Pre-measure brown sugar and whiskey for whiskey-glazed carrots. Place beside stove.
  • Make green salad and refrigerate.
  • Peel and slice apples and place in dish. Cream together sugar, butter and cinnamon. Cover dish with apples and set aside creamed mixture, as well as a 1/2 cup measuring cup.
  • Slice bread and set aside.
  • Clean kitchen so it doesn't look like a disaster zone.
Now, the chicken takes about an hour to cook. Our guests were going to be in at about 5:30, and I wanted to have everything done by 6:00. So I put the chicken in at 4:50. If you've done a lot of prep by that point, you may not have much to do other than clean up a bit. I did peel and slice the apples while the chicken was cooking, although it does need attention since it has to be turned. I also used that time to set the table, get out napkins, dinnerware, glasses, etc., as well as pull out serving plates.

Twenty minutes before the chicken was done, I started the carrots. Although I long for a kitchen with 2 ovens, I only have one, so I thought it best to have one dish in the oven, and another on the stove. The whiskey-glazed carrot recipe is VERY easy and having pre-measured the whiskey and sugar makes it that much simpler. It should be done about the same time the chicken is done. Make sure to cover while you're letting the chicken rest before carving it - the carrots were a little cool when we finally all sat down.

As for dessert, after we had been eating for around 45 minutes, I poured the butter/sugar mixture on top of the apples, as well as the water, and popped in the oven for 50 minutes. They were absolutely delicious a la mode!

By planning everything out in advance, I was actually quite calm and able to enjoy dinner with my guests!

1 comment:

amber said...

The menu sounds fabulous! I'm all about fairly simple stuff when we're having a dinner party. Otherwise, I'm like you and running around like a chicken with its head chopped off in a kitchen that looks like a bomb exploded. Not pretty. :P