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Jan 12, 2009 07:56 AM

Red meat lover dilemma: dinner party for chicken eaters

Hosting a dinner party for 6 friends who are picky eaters. To please everyone's palates my main entree option is pretty much only chicken. Anyone have a suggestion for an elegant dinner party chicken dish that is not too complicated to prepare and is not too exotic in flavor?

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  1. Can you go wrong with a roasted chicken? It couldn't be easier, has the "wow" factor when you pull a crackling, glistening bird out of the oven, can be quite elegant (in a homey, Ina Garten kind of way), and is infinitely adaptable to your guests' tastes. That would be my choice, for sure.

    CI also has some pretty beautiful pan-roasted chicken breast recipes with a variety of quick and delicious pan sauces that can be made as your guests situate themselves at the table. If you know your guests are white-meat types, that's my suggestion. I don't have the recipe handy but it's available on the ATK website.

    1. I agree with the roast chicken idea. Coq au vin is easy and wonderful and can be prepared entirely ahead. My only worry is that if they are VERY picky, they may be squeemish about chicken with bones, so the roast chicken, you can carve into boneless pieces so that might be better. Perhaps turkey might be fun too maybe a mini thanksgiving.

      1. Chicken marsala is elegant. The marsala is a nice rich flavor but not too exotic. A little wine-y perhaps. The mushrooms might pose a problem though for extremely picky eaters. However, i've noticed that people who call themselves picky eaters generally like mushrooms, so go figure.

        3 Replies
        1. re: charlesbois

          In a similar vein, you might consider a Chicken Piccata or Francese, with a lemon, butter sauce over chicken breasts (with capers if that is not too adventurous for your guests).

          1. re: masha

            I think the marsala and francese are both good ideas, I am just concerned about standing over my stove while the starters are being served. Thoughts?

            1. re: MWileyLach

              its not ideal, but you could prepare and then keep the breasts warm in the oven, and keep the sauce simmering. get your guests started with the starters, and then sneak away to the kitch right before dinner, simmer the breasts in the sauce for 10 min and then plate. unless you have a full time housekeeper or cook, they'll probably understand that some preparation needs to take place and your presence will be required in the kitchen for a few moments.

              It sounds like your dinner party might be a bit fancier than mine usually are (my friends would be in the kitchen alternately critiquing, helping and drinking), so you might want to switch to a dish that can be transferred almost directly from cooking to table, like a roast chicken.

        2. Yes, roast chicken is the easy and tasty option! In fact, that was always the fancy food for company in our house when I was a kid. If they're picky about which part of the chicken they want, you could try the Bittman "deconstructed turkey" with chicken pieces instead (adjusting the cooking times appropriately)

          Do they actively avoid other meats? If you want something a little more festive-looking (?) paella can be fun and flexible, and isn't really that much hassle as long as you have an appropriately sized pan. I imagine that chicken as the only meat might be a little boring, though...

          1. A lot of people swear by Marcella Hazan's Lemon Chicken and seems to fit your requirements.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Cpt Wafer

              Another good option. I have never actually done a whole chicken but this seems foolproof. How hard is it to carve it up?

              1. re: MWileyLach

                It isn't difficult and once the chicken is done the joints separate rather easily. A _sharp_ knife makes quick work of it. I start by removing the the leg from the thigh at the joint, then the thigh, also at the joint. Once this is done you have unobstructed access to the breast which I simply slice. Plate and spoon some pan drippings over the serving. I believe you said you were cooking for six so if I were you I'd do two chickens. They should cook in the same time as one as long as they aren't pushed up next to each other.