Potluck Ideas that don't Suck?
My friend and I have been invited to a potluck. Which is basically a euphemism for a cornucopia of guacamole, hummus, and salsa. Anyone got any original ideas for something to make? Don't want to do any prep once there, except maybe stick something in the oven. But even that can be tricky.
Here's my favorite thing to bring to a potluck. I always get a lot of compliments on it and requests for the recipe.
Funny story ... I went googling for this recipe and found this. I don't know who Hillsmom is and have never heard of "Taste of Home", but I'm the person who wrote this recipe originally (I recognize my own verbiage) and posted it who-knows-where, where it was apparently seen by Hillsmom. Small world! So weird to see my own version of this recipe posted by someone else on a strange site!
A slow cooker expands your potluck horizon to infinity: curried lamb, barbecued beef, African chicken (in a spicy tomato sauce with a little peanut butter and some peppers), red beans & rice with andouille (Creole sausage), beef cooked in beer with onions and Portobello mushrooms, etc etc. Transport: set pot full of cooked stuff in cardbox in trunk of car in case it sloshes. On arrival, plug in pot to keep contents hot and let people serve themselves direct from the pot.
slow cooker, AKA crockpot, totally a-gree.
Transport: duct tape lid down (I started doing this after a whole crockpot full of etouffe turned over in our brand new chevy impala (less than 300km on the odometer). Note etouffe is butter-based and I rarely saw mrs. porker so angry, but I digress)
As for a dish suggestion, I like bringing curry goat. Again, the missus always rolls her eyes, but goat is not only 1. cheap and 2. tasty, but makes for a great conversation piece...
It's cold outside; make an awesome mac and cheese. Use super good cheese, and lots of it. I like a blend of swiss and cheddar. Young beemster is awesome for melting too. I add a little cayenne, sage and nutmeg to my bechamel before adding the cheese, but you do you. Top with buttery panko with parmesan in it.
It's classic church basement potluck fare, hearty and warm, but you can really elevate it with nice cheese.
People often don't make things they love for themselves because of the guilt factor. So make something truly decadent and yet EASY. You'll be praised by all.
Pulled Pork. It couldn't be easier. If you have a crock pot, just toss it in, fat side up, with a bit of water, cover with foil, poke a few holes in the foil then put the lid on, set to low and walk away for about 7-8 hours.
If you don't have a crock pot, you can use your oven set to 225. If you do that, pre-rub with oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. When the meat hits 155, wrap the top of it with foil.
Regardless of which method - just remove when meat is 200 degrees and the thermometer slides right in. Then shred it, and toss with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. If you want it to have some zing, add sirachi hot sauce or the same brand of chili paste.
That's it. I do this about once a week and we'll pick at it here and there. It's awesome.
I usually bring Ina's Roasted Veggies with Orzo and Feta. It always gets raves and it is served at room temperature. I just cut the dressing in half, because it seems to be excessive.
You can adapt the vegetables to any you like or in season.
A few things need to be taken into consideration. Is it outdoors or indoors? Weather a factor? Are there mostly foodies there or non-foodies? What are the people who are in attendance like (vegetarians, older meat-n-potatoes kinds, ethnic food lovers, etc.)? After you do that, you can make a good judgement call on what to bring. Is it an appetizier pot luck, or a dinner one?
1. good baked beans that you've previously slow-baked in a bean pot in your oven with bacon, molasses, etc.
2. appetizer, cold, non-baked veggie pizza is very easy
3. Swedish meatballs in a crockpot
4. Smokies in a crockpot
5. layered Mexican dip (though this is very popular, and others might be bringing this one)
6. Chili in a crockpot and a carton of sour cream and bag of shredded cheddar
5. 7-layered salad in a 9 X 11 casserole dish
6. a homemade cheeseball with veggies and crackers arranged around it.
I second the chili suggestion. That's what I want at a potluck during cold weather season. Toppings are nice, but what is really great is vibrant tasting chili with a little nuance and a little heat that you could happily eat with just a few corn chips. But others in the group probably will prefer sour cream and/or cheese on their bowls of red.
One the more popular things I take to pot lucks are little muffuletta sandwiches. I've made them on kaiser type rolls that I cut in quarters and on long Italian sub rolls. It's great because you make them the night before, wrap well and weigh down in the fridge to compress a bit over night.
re: Terrie H.
Terrie H., you beat me to it! I made a big muffuletta for a party recently and people swooped down on it (we cut it into fairly small wedges). The Taste of Home reference is making me laugh. My friend Sarah and I are both good cooks, and I guess we've become a bit snotty about good food...for her wedding her aunt gave her a subscription to Taste of Home magazine so she could get in touch with 'how the proletariat eat'. Taste of Home is much more popular in rural areas, and their recipes, which sometimes lean heavily on pre-packaged ingredients (frozen hash browns, canned soup) are understandable if you consider that their target reader often lives 30 miles from a grocery store or market, and sometimes relies much more heavily on pantry-ingredients.
re: Terrie H.
Oops...lost my dog, there...I was going to add that a big sandwich is sometimes very welcome at a potluck. You can do anything at all; meatballs on a loaf of Italian with marinara and cheese, veg & cheese on a baguette, muffuletta, cubano...just build the sandwich on a big hunk of bread & slice it on the platter once you get to your destination. They're easy to eat, and a nice foil for the glut of dips & vegetable trays you seem to get a lot of.
sausage stuffed mini peppers or sausage stuffed peppadews
if you don't have access to an outdoor grill, do them indoors on a grill pan.
if using mini peppers, cut off the tops and scoop out any seeds, peppadews are generally already seeded.
buy a really good, strongly flavored bulk pork sausage, Wegman's used to carry a brand with garlic and cheese, but I haven't seen that around lately. do one set with sweet sausage and one set with hot sausage. with your fingers, stuff the sausage into the hollowed out peppers and leave a little cap of extra sausage on top.
Grill, turning around on all sides, until the sausage is cooked and the pepper is slightly charred.
these are great warm or at room temperature they're substantial and they get completely eaten every time we bring them anywhere.
Chili (one of my favorites)
Sausages either in BBQ sauce or with sauce on the side (one of my favorites)
BBQ beef brisket (one of my favorites Hey... I'm in Texas)
Pulled pork (one of my favorites)
Lasagne (one of my favorites)
Enchiladas (one of my favorites)
Ham Hocks and beans (call it ham and bean soup north of the Mason Dixon line)
Your favorite casserole (Just too many to list)
Sides and Appetizers
Stuffed potato skins
Twice baked potatoes
Red Beans and Rice (one of my favorites)
Flautes (one of my favorites)
Egg rolls (one of my favorites)
Deviled eggs (one of my favorites)
Baked potatoes in foil especially if you have some toppings
Key Lime pie (one of my favorites)
Brownies (one of my favorites)
Cakes (even better cupcakes)
Lemon Bars would be great
Gosh... I sure would like to attend the potluck where all of it is served.