Dinner Party Help
So I need a little help, please. I am hosting a dinner party for 6 and am working on the menu. So far, here's what I'm interested in:
Some kind of salad
Some kind of veg.
Some kind of meat
The idea here is to do something really nice, but that I can do in advance so I can still enjoy the party. I thought you all might have some great suggestions!
Also, no goat cheese or rosemary (guests' constraints, but that's another thread altogether). Other than that, it's all good.
Thanks in advance for your help.
For the meat, try roasting a leg or half leg of lamb, with the meat larded with garlic. Maybe a little tyme to flavor the roast. And try combining the some kind of salad with the some kind of veg if you're not serving courses. Say, a combo of cooked lentils, mango dice, red onion all tossed in a vinaigrette with a good dose of cumin. Marinate and chill, and serve on a bed of baby greens. Very do-ahead. The vinaigrette is a nice note against the lamb and the richness of the scalloped potatoes.
For the salad, do a fennel slaw. It's easy, it goes well with creamy dishes like your potatoes, and you can make it a few hours ahead.
For the veg, it depends on the meat you serve - but either way, you don't want something too starchy because you already have potatoes. I say you can't go wrong with sautéed mushrooms; they're simple and seasonal and go with pretty much everything.
My favorite simple yet comforting side dish is roasted cauliflower with parmesan and a little parsley.
I love mushrooms, and suggest if you choose to make mushrooms, do a medley of wild mushrooms w/ caramelized onions.
For salad, perhaps a nice artichoke hearts and hearts of palm based salad, to cut the creaminess of the scallopped potatoes.
For meat, leg of lamb was my thought too... Or, something about this time of year screams pot roast or brisket to me... not elegant, per se, but homey and comforty and fall-y.
How about pork tenderloin served on polenta, either creamy mounds or fried cakes of it? Perhaps a mushroom/sage gravy type sauce? Then ditch the potatoes.
I like the idea of countering meat and potatoes with onions of some sort. I like to do a gratin of pearl or Cipollini onions; too, balsamic red onions are wonderful and would go with many kinds of meat whether lamb, pork or beef.
One of my favorite make-ahead meat dishes is Individual Beef Wellingtons. They can be made in advance, frozen and then tempered in the refrigerator for a few hours before baking them off.
I love the Fennel slaw idea. Roasted or braised fennel is wonderful too. You also can't go wrong with the utter simplicity and pure nutty flavor of roasted broccoli.
I'd probably opt for the cheese puffs as an hors d'oeuvres if you're doing a cocktail before and save the shrimp cocktail for the appetizer. Crab cakes make a nice appetizer too and you could couple them with your salad or serve each course separately.