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Easy dinner party entrees? Four caterers tell their favorites.

Easy dinner party entrees? Four caterers tell their favorites

What should I serve at my dinner party?We asked this question of professional caterers, who regularly solve this puzzle. Like home cooks, they, too, are concerned with make-ahead steps, ease in preparation, and presentation.

Rack of lamb is naturally elegant andeasy to cook and carve. Peter Higginson dresses it with a red pepper mustard.

For guests with diverse tastes, KateTremper suggests skewered entrees. You can make several kinds and grill them all at the same time. Guests choose their favorite. One choice is pork with chili.

Chicken with pesto, served on a tomatoand porcini mushroom sauce, is a showstopper choice. It takes time to assemble the parts, but Patra Cianciolo often makes them ahead. You can substitute fresh button mushrooms for dry porcini.

For a quick, easy entree, Gretchen Mathercoats chicken breasts in mustard and bread crumbs to bake. They are deliciously moist.

Red Pepper Mustard Rack of Lamb

2 medium-size red bell peppers

2 tablespoons port

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced fresh or dryrosemary

3 racks of lamb (1 1/2 to 2 lb. each),French cut (rib ends stripped) with chine bones removed

Cut peppers in half and set, cut side down,in a 10- by 15-inch pan. Broil about 4 inches from heat until skin is charred and blistered all over, about 10 minutes. Let cool; peel off blistered skin, remove stem and seeds. In a food processor or blender, whirl pepper, port, honey, dry mustard, Dijon, and rosemary just until pepper is finely chopped; do not puree.

Trim fat from lamb, leaving about 1/4 inchon surface. Coat lamb with 1/3 of the pepper mustard sauce; cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Also cover and chill remaining sauce until ready to serve.

Place lamb racks, bone side down, in agreased 11- by 17-inch roasting pan. Roast in a 475| oven for 15 minutes. Turn racks fat side down and return to oven. Reduce temperature to 350|; continue cooking until a thermometer inserted in center of thickest part reaches 140| for medium-rare, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Let meat rest in a warm place 5 to 10minutes. Cut racks in half or into individual chops; allow a half rack or 3 or 4 chops for each serving. Offer reserved cool pepper mustard to eat with the lamb. Makes 6 to 8 servings.--Peter Higginson, Ambrosia Caterers, Venice, Calif.

Santa Fe Pork Brochetas

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder orbutt, trimmed of excess surface fat and cut into 1-inch chunks

Red chili puree (recipe follows)


10 red thin-skinned potatoes(about 2 in. wide)

1 large onion, cut into 1-inch cubesand layers separated

In a bowl, mix pork chunks with red chilipuree. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, bring about 2quarts water to boiling. Add potatoes. Return to boiling and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, cool, then cut potatoes into quarters.

On metal skewers, alternate pieces ofpork, onion, and potato. Brush any remaining chili puree over vegetables. If made ahead, cover and chill up to 4 hours.

Place on a grill 4 to 6 inches above hotcoals (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds). Cook, turning, until meat is well browned on all sides and no longer pink in thickest part (cut to test), 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.-- Kate Tremper, Massee's, Sante Fe.

Red chili puree. Remove stems from 6large (about 3 oz. total) dry New Mexican or California chilies. Rinse chilies. In a bowl, combine chilies and 2 cups hot water. Soak until chilies are soft, about 15 minutes. Rinse chilies (reserve soaking water) and remove seeds.

In a blender or food processor, combinechilies, 2 tablespoons salad oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves, 1 teaspoon cumin seed, 1 teaspoon salt or to taste, and 1 cup of the soaking water; whirl to puree.

Pesto Chicken with Tomato Porcini Sauce

6 boned and skinned chicken breasthalves (each about 4 oz.)

Salt and pepper

Pesto sauce (recipe follows)

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Tomato and porcini sauce (recipefollows)

Basil or parsley sprigs

Place a chicken breast between pieces ofplastic wrap and pound evenly with a flat mallet until about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining chicken. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce over each piece. Starting at one end of the breast, roll up neatly. (If made ahead, place chicken, seam side down, in a buttered 10- by 15-inch pan. Cover and chill up to overnight. Freeze to store longer; thaw to continue.) In an 8- or 9-inch-wide pan, mix bread crumbs, cheese, chopped parsley. Pour remaining pesto into an 8- or 9-inch-wide pan. Coat rolls with pesto, then crumb mixture. Set chicken, seam side down, slightly apart in a buttered 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 400| oven until meat is white in center (cut to test), about 20 minutes.

Pour hot tomato and porcini sauce equallyonto 6 dinner plates. Carefully cut each roll on the diagonal in 1/2-inch slices and arrange on sauce. Garnish with basil sprigs. Makes 6 servings.--Patra Cianciolo, Creative Catering, San Francisco.

Pesto sauce. In a 6- to 8-inch frying pan,stir 2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts over low heat just until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, combinetoasted nuts, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (washed and dried), and 1/3 cup olive oil. Whirl to puree. Stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup sour cream. Use, or cover and chill up to overnight. Freeze to store longer (thaw to use). Makes about 3/4 cup.

Tomato and porcini sauce. Soak 2 ouncesdried porcini mushrooms in 3 cups hot water until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze and rub mushrooms to work out any grit. Lift out mushrooms and coarsely chop. Pour the soaking water (be careful not to disturb sediment on bottom of bowl) through a fine strainer into glass measure to equal 1 cup; set aside. Discard remaining water. (If dried porcini are not available, use 1/2 lb. fresh button mushrooms, chopped; do not soak.)

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, bring 1 1/2 quartswater to boiling. Add 6 large Roma-type tomatoes. Boil until skins crack, 1 to 2 minutes. Lift out tomatoes. Peel, core, cut in half, and squeeze out seeds. Coarsely chop tomatoes.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, combine 1/3cup olive oil, 3 cloves garlic, 8 sprigs (4 in. long) fresh mint (or 1 teaspoon dry mint), 4 sprigs (3 to 4 in. long) fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves), 4 sprigs fresh basil (or 1/4 teaspoon dry basil), and 4 sprigs parsley. Stir over low heat until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Lift out fresh herbs and garlic (spoon off as much of the dry herbs as possible).

Add fresh or dry mushrooms and 1chicken bouillon cube. Stir over low heat until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add tomatoes and the 1 cup reserved porcini soaking liquid or water. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use, or cool, cover, and chill up to overnight. Freeze to store longer; thaw to use. Reheat, covered, over low heat until hot, adding a little water if mixture sticks. Makes 2 cups.

Parmesan Dijon Chicken

2 to 3 slices white bread

1 cup lightly packed gratedparmesan cheese

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

2/3 cup Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons dry white wine

8 boned and skinned chicken breasthalves (3 to 4 oz. each)

Tear bread in pieces. Whirl in a blenderor food processor until coarse crumbs form. Pour 1 1/2 cups of crumbs into an 8- or 9-inch-wide pan; mix with cheese and butter.

In another 8- or 9-inch-wide pan, mixmustard and wine. Coat chicken in mustard mixture; dip rounded side of each breast in crumb mixture. Set chicken, crumb side up, slightly apart in a greased 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 500| oven until golden and chicken is white in thickest part (cut to test), about 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Photo: Skewered chunksof grilled pork, potato, and onion are treated with a red chili marinade for a robust Southwest flavor

Photo: Rack of lamb is agood choice for elegant entree. Red pepper mustard coats lamb as it cooks, also serves as a sauce for the meat
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1987
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