Making brisket BBQ classy for NYE?
I've got a crowd coming and I'll be making BBQ brisket. For the sides I was thinking about making homemade Mac and cheese, maybe creamy polenta, and a veggie side (Brussels sprouts with bacon?). Also, I was thinking of serving a soup before all this (black bean and ham?). While I'm sure this would be yummy, it doesn't seem classy enough for New Year's Eve. Does anyone have any ideas to making BBQ more "classy"?
Menu sounds delicious though I think the soup might be too heavy before the BBQ main. Maybe something lighter? Or how about "classy" nibbles? You could serve marcona almonds, assorted olives, cheese straws, pumpernickel toasts topped with sour cream and smoked salmon, etc and serve it all with champagne.
I made mac and cheese "cups" for a Christmas brunch. I made an outrageous three cheese mac and cheese and then made cups out of puff pastry in mini muffin tins. Filled each cup with the mac n cheese, topped with seasoned panko bread crumbs and stuck them under the broiler. They were a huge hit and a little more upscale than a big ole dish of the stuff.
I second using cloth napkins but also use good dishes and real silverware. If doing a buffet make sure your table is set beautifully-use lots of candles of all different heights for sparkle, maybe flowers or wide vases filled with fruits (cranberries, small tangerines, etc) topped with votives.
Good music is imperative too as that sets the mood. Maybe tell your guests the dress is semi formal. Being dressed up will make the whole thing feel more upscale too.
Those are some great tips. And good thought on the soup. With everything else, something lighter would be better. We've got the music thing covered: we're asking each guest to bring their top ten albums for 2012 (kind of a tradition we have). I would not have thought about dressing up the table either but ill do that for sure!
I'd skip the soup, too heavy with the brisket. Something fresh and crisp would be a nice addition. Personally, an arugula and blood orange salad would be my choice. But if you want to stay with the BBQ theme, maybe a homemade slaw.
I know you have polenta on the menu and potato salad is completely out of the question, not being classy enough:-) But BBQ brisket without a potato dish of some sort is like a day without sunshine. So how about twice baked potatoes with sour cream, cheddar and horseradish served up on a silver tray with fancy garnishes.:-)
First, if making a BBQ brisket, I would stick to a dry rub and not a sticky, tomatoey BBQ sauce (which is too "summery" for New Years, IMO). Then serve with maybe several sauces on the side. I would add a horseradish sauce.
If you do mac and cheese, use a very sharp cheddar and other strong cheeses, but use some sodium citrate solution per the Modernist Cooking video. It allows you to use cheeses that otherwise don't melt well (stronger, harder cheddars go grainy and separate otherwise).
Also, creamy polenta and mac and cheese are similar textures. Why not go for fried polenta? You can fry in advance, reheat in oven on foil pans.
I like the fried polenta idea for the difference in textural contrast. Personally, I'm much more of a loose polenta fan, but if you have a mac and cheese, then the fried polenta would complement well, and can be made ahead of time, which is nice.
I'd also skip the soup.
Good suggestion for a blood orange and arugala salad - that would class things up a bit, and would offer a nice bite and acid to contrrast with the fat and heaviness from the other dishes.
You could also do a hoppin john, which while a new year's day tradition rather than NYE, might still offer a nice side dish for your soiree.