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When the team is ready to picnic.

When the team is ready to picnic

As soon as you decide it would be fun to invite friends for an informal party meal big enough to feed hungry opposing volleyball or softball teams and fans certain practical considerations are likely to flash through your mind. What's the easiest menu I can fix that everyone is apt to like? How much time and work will this take? What can I do ahead? What kind of dent is this going to make in my food budget?

This easy-to-serve, picnic-style salad buffet for two dozen deals with these questions. You start with very basic foods: chicken, carrots, cracked wheat (bulgur), bread, and watermelon. Simply prepared, well seasoned, and served cold or at room temperature, three salads are the base of the menu, which appeals to a broad range of tastes.

One person can put the meal together in 5 to 6 hours, exclusive of shopping. The salads can be made as much as two days ahead; because they can be stored in containers of any shape, they will fit into a single standard refrigerator. The toasted bread can be made the day before, too. With help, the work goes faster.

The ingredients are very economical; checking prices in several supermarkets, we found that the cost per serving (excluding beverages) averaged $2.

Salad buffet for two dozen

Curried Chicken Salad with Cracklings

Carrot and Orange Salad

Cracked Wheat Salad

Pocket Bread Crackers Watermelon

Jug White Wine Soft Drinks

Dovetailing tasks is necessary to make efficient use of your time.

While the chickens bake, peel and slice carrots, and make broth from giblets for the cracked wheat salad. Rinse and crisp lettuce for the salad platters.

At party time, set up a buffet, mounding each salad on platters lined with lettuce. Cut the watermelon (about 15 lbs.) into individual pieces, each with a section of rind to hold as you eat the melon. Set out iced beverages. For ease in cleanup, use paper plates and plastic forks and glasses.

Curried Chicken Salad with Cracklings

5 broiler-fryer chickens (about 3 1/2 lbs. each)

1/2 cup Madras or other curry powder

1/2 cup mustard seed

1 tablespoon each fennel seed and ground cumin

3 large onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup minced fresh ginger About 1 quart each unflavored yogurt and sour cream About 1 teaspoon salt Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and crisped

Remove giblets and necks from chickens; reserve, if desired, to make broth for cracked wheat salad (recipe follows). Pull fat off chickens and discard. Rinse chickens; pat dry. Set, breast up, on racks in 2 baking pans, each about 13 by 15 inches and at least 1 inch deep.

Roast chickens in a 375| oven until legs jiggle easily at hip joints, about 1 1/2 hours. Tip chickens to drain juices from body cavities into pan; let chickens stand on pans until cool enough to touch.

Pull skin off chickens in large pieces and set aside. Pull chicken meat from bones; discard bones. Tear chicken into shreds and put into a large bowl (6- to 8-qt. size).

Skim and discard fat from juices. Scrape all the juices into one of the pans and add curry powder, mustard, fennel, and cumin. Cook, stirring, over medium heat to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Add onion and ginger and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and let

cool. Stir in 1 quart yogurt and 2 cups sour cream. Add to chicken and mix well; if you want more dressing, add more sour cream (the dressing thickens as it chills). Season salad with salt to taste. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or as long as 2 days.

Wash and dry the pans and racks. Lay chicken skin flat on racks, overlapping if necessary. Bake, uncovered, in a 450| oven until golden and crisp enough to break (let a piece cool about 1 minute to test), about 20 minutes; let stand on racks until cool enough to touch. Crumble skin into small pieces to make cracklings. Use warm or at room temperature. Or wrap airtight and refrigerate as long as 2 days; serve at room temperature.

Line a large platter (at least 14-in. diameter) with lettuce leaves; mound salad on top of lettuce. Sprinkle salad liberally with cracklings. Offer remaining cracklings to spoon onto individual portions. Makes 24 servings, about 3/4 cup each.

Carrot and Orange Salad

7 1/2 pounds (about 30 large) carrots Water

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 large red onions

8 oranges (about 3-in. diameter) Tarragon dressing (recipe follows) Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and crisped

Peel carrots; trim off and discard ends. Cut carrots crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices. (To slice in a food processor, apply firm, steady pressure to get thick slices, or use a thick-slicing blade.)

In a 10- to 12-quart pan, bring 8 quarts water and 1/2 cup of the vinegar to a boil over high heat. Add carrots and let cook, covered, until slightly tender but still crisp to bite, about 5 minutes.

Drain carrots well and pour into a large bowl (about 8-qt. size). Set aside.

Peel onions and cut in half lengthwise; cut crosswise into thin slices. In the same pan, bring 3 quarts water and remaining 1/4 cup vinegar to a boil. Add onions and cook, uncovered, just until they are slightly limp and a brighter pink, about 10 seconds.

Drain onions well and add to carrots.

With a vegetable peeler, pare 4 of the oranges; cut peel into thin slivers to use in dressing. Set oranges aside.

Add tarragon dressing to the carrot mixture and stir gently to mix. At this point, you can cover and chill the salad as long as 2 days.

Just before serving, cut peel and white off all of the oranges with a sharp knife and discard. Cut fruit segments free from inner membrane. Add fruit to salad and stir gently to mix.

Line a large platter (at least 14-in. diameter) with lettuce leaves, mounding carrot salad in the center. Makes 24 servings, about 1 cup each.

Tarragon dressing. In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine 1 1/2 cups each sugar and red wine vinegar, and the reserved orange peel (preceding). Bring to a boil, stirring, over high heat. Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups salad oil and 1 tablespoon dry tarragon leaves.

Cracked Wheat Salad

3 boxes (1 lb. each, or 7 1/2 cups total) bulgur (cracked wheat)

1/2 cup (3 oz.) chicken-flavored instant bouillon powder or granules Water Giblet broth (recipe follows), optional

Lemon-mint dressing (recipe follows) Salt Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and crisped Mint sprigs

Put bulgur in a 6- to 8-quart pan or bowl, Add instant bouillon and 7 cups cool water (or use 5 cups water and the giblet broth). Mix and let stand, stirring once or twice, until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender to bite, about 30 minutes.

Stir lemon-mint dressing into bulgur; add salt to taste. Serve, or cover and chill as ling as 2 days; stir to blend ingredients.

Line a large platter (at least 14-in. diameter) with lettuce leaves and mound salad in center. Garnish with mint sprigs. Makes 24 servings, about 1 cup each.

Giblet broth. Rinse giblets and necks (reserved from curried chicken salad, preceding); save livers for other uses. Put giblets in a 5- to 6-quart pan along with 2 quarts water. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 hour. Pour both through a strainer and save; discard giblets. Return broth to pan; skim off and discard fat. Boil broth rapidly until reduced to 2 cups; if you boil away too much, add water to make 2 cups.

Lemon-mint dressing. Combine 2 1/2 cups olive oil or salad oil, 1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups finely chopped fresh mint, and 1 tablespoon cracked pepper.

Pocket Bread Crackers

Split open 24 pocket breads (5-in. size) into thin rounds. Evenly brush noncrust sides with 1 cup (1/2 lb.) melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle bread lightly with a favorite herb blend, seasoned salt, or seasoned pepper.

Arrange 6 or 8 bread rounds, buttered sides up and slightly overlapping, on ungreased 11- by 17-inch baking sheets. Bake, uncovered, in a 350| over until light gold and crisp, about 10 minutes. Repeat until all rounds are toasted. Serve warm or at room temperature. If made ahead, wrap loosely and store at room temperature as long as overnight. Makes 48 pieces, 2 pieces for a serving.

Photo: Volleyball gang breaks from the action to enjoy cool buffet of crowed-scaled salads, toast, fruit. Foods are easy to eat with a fork

Photo: Pull skin from roast chicken; place on racks to bake crisp later. Pull meat off bones and tear into thin shreds

Photo: Party menu features three salads: carrot, cracked wheat, and curried chicken. Serve with toasted pocket bread; dessert is watermelon Briefly cook the carrots while the chickens cool, and soak cracked wheat (it requires no cooking). Strip meat from chicken, make dressing, complete chicken salad, and chill. At the same time, bake chicken skin to make crisp cracklings. Complete both the carrot and cracked wheat salads, and chill. Split pocket bread; butter, season, and toast it.

Photo: Pour hot, lightly cooked carrots into a large bowl. Mix with tarragon dressing and chill, then add fresh orange segments
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Aug 1, 1984
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