Tips for Cooking for a Dinner Party

As promised yesterday in my Slider Dinner Party blog I am going to run down a few tips for hosting a dinner party.  Cooking in the sanctuary of your own kitchen is quite different when you know there are a bunch of hungry guests expecting a good meal.  You are entertaining and feeding people that have time expectations of when dinner should be served and a time when they need to leave.  Its a bit akin to catering in your own home.  And what is a catering chef’s secret weapon?  Preparation.

For my dinner party, I had the following list of items on my menu:

  • homemade slider buns (white and honey wheat)
  • 5 types of sliders
  • raw veggies and dip
  • variety of peppers for grilling
  • mixed veggies for grilling
  • ranch style beans

My preparation for this party started by 10am. I had 2 batches of slider buns to make.  In the downtime between dough rising and baking I working on veggies.  I separated all my ingredients according to task:

  • burger toppings (lettuce, tomato, pineapple, etc)
  • pre-dinner grilling (peppers)
  • mixed grilling veggies
  • raw veggies and dip(s)
  • burger ingredients (for the individual burger types: Thai, bbq, etc)

The burger toppings I prepared in large ramekins for serving as is, covered in plasti-wrap and stuck them in fridge.

I grilled the peppers, seeded, and chopped them for their specific purpose (jalapeno for toppings, poblano for ingredient, etc)

Cleaned, and chopped up grilling veggies. Placed in large ziplocs, added olive oil and herb selections.  Ready to shake and grill.

Cleaned and chopped raw veggies for dipping and into ziplocs.  Make dip(s).

Burger ingredients went into separate large ramekins/bowls.  To await being mixed into meat when showtime draws near.

Preparation is your bff

With all of that out of the way, the only thing I had to contend with is cooking the burgers, beans and grilling veggies as guests arrived.  While my lovely wife plays host, I am running back and forth between kitchen and grill, anxious about how the burgers will turn out (a much better anxiety than wondering if your guests will starve before dinner is served).  The guests have raw veggies and drinks to entertain themselves while the burgers finish cooking.  Afterwards, make sure there is enough main course to last the party, then make yourself a plate =)

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