Cook This: A Southern Dinner Party Plan

August 23, 2011

Planning a dinner party in advance (even just mentally) makes the end of your week as relaxing as it should be. Carve out this southern-inspired meal ahead and all you'll have to worry about is where to market and whom to invite.

The Menu:

Mint Iced Tea by merrill

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Mint Iced Tea


Horseradish Dill Potato Salad by thirschfeld

Horseradish Dill Potato Salad


Classic Southern Buttermilk Bathed Fried Chicken by Chef James

Classic Southern Buttermilk Bathed Fried Chicken


Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Gruyere by amanda

Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Gruyere


Grilled Mint Julep Peaches by Stefano Coppola

Grilled Mint Julep Peaches


The Plan:

Things you can do in advance:

• Make your mint tea and keep it in the fridge. If you want to win a host-of-the-year award, freeze iced tea cubes so your guests have iced tea that doesn't get diluted.  

• Throw together your salsa verde and store it in the fridge. 

• The day before the party, coat your chicken in the spice blend. Plop it in a mixing bowl, cover it with buttermilk and stir in the hot sauce. Let it rest in the fridge overnight. 


Things to do the day of:

• To the market!

• Make the bourbon glaze for the peaches -- set it aside until it's time for dessert. It won't hurt to halve and pit the peaches so they're ready to go later. 

• Boil your potatoes and let them cool while you get the gratin going. While the gratin is in the oven, slice up your potatoes and dress them. You can keep them in the fridge until your guests arrive. 

• Dredge the chicken, heat up your oil and fry away. Once it's done, let it rest on a rack to drain (and cool off a bit). Season with salt. 

• Pour some tall glasses of iced tea (topped off with bourbon if you like) and enjoy. 

• Dessert time -- fire up the grill and give the peaches about 2 minutes on each side. Serve with ice cream and a drizzle of that bourbon glaze. Sprigs of mint are a nice finishing touch. 


With a little labor knocked out in advance, you will, no doubt, enjoy your own dinner. It shouldn't be hard to be festive -- you just need a plan!



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