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Nov 12, 2012 09:33 AM

Comments / suggestions on my holiday party menu?

My annual Christmas party is the first Saturday in December (and that’s Dec 1st this year!) Sort of an open house / tree-trimming party. I have two Christmas trees. I put the lights on beforehand and guests (especially the kids) put on the ornaments. The party runs from 3 to 9 pm, and the guest count generally runs in the 30s to 40s.

I find it much more relaxing if I can do almost everything in advance and set it out, and have little to fuss with during the actual party. So I usually have 3 crockpots going, some type of salad, and assorted finger foods that can be assembled in advance. If possible, I prefer to make the main dishes (for the crockpots) in advance and freeze them. I also will have all day on the Friday before the party to prepare, plus DH to assist that day.

One year I had three different soups going in the crockpots and three different types of breads. A couple of times I’ve done three different types of chili. Another year was enchiladas, chile verde, and posole with assorted sides of beans, Mexican rice, etc.

This year’s theme is French Bistro. Inspired by this thread:

So far I was planning to make Beef Bourguignon, Cassoulet, and a chicken recipe. (I originally was thinking of Coq au vin but would prefer something in a white wine sauce, since the beef will be in red wine.) I also plan to make a Salad Nicoise, and I’m considering an onion tart with caramelized onions and fresh thyme or asparagus, prosciutto, and goat cheese galettes. Desserts so far are chocolate mousse, tarte tatin and perhaps a fruit galette.

Any other ideas for a chicken dish for the third crockpot? Something with white wine. I’ve looked at a chicken fricassee or a recipe I found called Chicken Grand-mere. For chicken, I will usually remove the meat from the bones after cooking so it will be easier to eat.

I was also looking at these recipes from a Chow recipe slideshow ( French-y Picnic Recipes for Bastille Day

Some items I almost always have include some mixed nuts, chips and raw veggies and dips, olives, cheeses, sliced ham/turkey/salami, crackers, fruit salad, sometimes a frittata, shrimp with cocktail sauce, smoked salmon.

For desserts I usually make a cheesecake, something with fruit, and something chocolate. Plus a couple of kinds of cookies.

Thoughts? Suggestions? What am I missing?


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  1. How about a coq au vin blanc?

    One note: when they say chardonnay, they likely mean a French chardonnay, which means little or no oak. Don't replace with a heavily oaked California chard.

    Another thing to consider would be French onion soup, which you could serve in small mugs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: katecm

      Thanks for the input. I had considered the French onion soup, but wasn't sure how to do the crispy cheesy bread on top. I suppose I could pre-bake cheesy croutons and people could toss a few of those on top. But it's also beefy (and I have the beef stew...)

      The coq au vin blanc sounds like exactly what I was looking for!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Salad nicoise feels a bit too summer for me. What about a modified salad Lyonnaise? Instead of the poached egg, you can serve with hard boiled but with the croutons and bacon. I'd also nix the asparagus tarts and maybe switch it out with a butternut squash tart. While we're in the Alsace what about Nigella's coq au Reisling. Chicken thighs with bacon, leeks mushrooms and Reisling. If you are going French, what about pate, cheeses, with cornichons and sliced baguette. Maybe some radishes with softened compound butter or fingerling potatoes with aoili. I'd skips the sliced meats, fruit salad, and shrimp cocktail if I wanted to keep the French bistro theme. Your desserts sound scrumptious. No need to add anything else.

        1. What about a french chicken in vinegar dish? I've made a couple variations of this recipe (not using the polenta) and it's tasty. Not sure how it would work in a crock pot but it looks like it'd be doable w/ more liquid (I'm a crock pot novice).

          1. Chicken with forty cloves of garlic works in a crock pot.

            Or, it wasn't too much work but I recently roasted a chicken on a bed of shaved fennel & leeks, with shallots & whole garlic cloves. They made a tasty confit to spread on croustades (toasted country bread slices rubbed w garlic) when cooked down with all the chicken's juices. It was delicious and simple.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              Thanks for the suggestions! Just to clarify, I don't need to cook the dish in the crock pot. I usually cook things in advance and basically use the crockpots to keep things warm for serving during the party.