roast chicken with ratatouille?
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Some "large format" ideas for things that do better made at least a day ahead: short ribs (i'm particularly fond of Smitten Kitchen's), chili, seafood stew, pozole, carnitas or other braised meats. For appetizers, serving a spread of dips such as hummus, babaganoush, tahini, etc., with endives and carrots for dipping (and pita for the non-gfers) would save you a lot of work, and can be bought ahead. For dessert, my go-to is Orangette's Gateau au Chocolate (http://orangette.net/2004/08/and-then-the-cake-came-forth/), which gets better after a day of resting. I've made it up to a week before, froze it, and defrosted a day ahead in the fridge. Its also perfect because you can omit the tablespoon or so of flour and make it gluten free. I serve it with balsamic marinated strawberries and creme fraiche whipped cream. Hope that helps!
QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.
You might need a lot of chicken to feed 12 people. Unless you have two ovens, it will be an endeavor. I like to make slow roasts for my parties, they spend long time in the oven (anywhere from three to many hours in the oven), but are essentially labor free (and can often be prepared a day ahead). Plus they are crowd-pleasers. Here are some nice recipes from the site and other sources
My personal favorite is Paula Wolfert's SevenHour Garlic Crowned Lamb from her Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. (If you do not have the book, I would be happy to email you the recipe, as I did not see it online).
I also love this dish, because you can make the meatballs a day ahead and then finish before the dinner.
You can do a side of cauliflower cous cous (plain or embellished). Easy to make and does not require a lot of time in the kitchen.
Oh my gosh - you need the Jerusalem cook book. The Wild Rice & Basmati Rice with Chickpeas is so delish, and easily made ahead with no need to keep refridgerated! https://www.theguardian...
I suggest the rice salad, a couple of roast chickens, roasted carrots, & smashed garlicky new potatoes - http://damndelicious.net/2014/02/14/garlic-smashed-potatoes/
You could also make a green salad - my favourite right now is chopped baby spinach, sliced red onions, & orange segments, tossed with a bit of olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Nancy is a trusted home cook.
Another point of view.
You don't say if it's formal or informal.
If formal, you may need help in set up and clean up.
If informal, consider a buffet or family style (platter) service.
Also, if this is a more or less average home setting, logistics of serving every dish hot are probably difficult. Plan for some cold and/or at room temp.
Skip the appetizers (it adds more logistics and dirty dishes for you later). Instead have ready a drink (two or three mixed drinks including one non-alcoholic) and some finger food to welcome people.
Then choose your main and sides to relate to each other...for examples, if chile con carne, then traditional accompaniments like cole slaw and baked beans. Or, if tacos or other Mexican main dish, serve Mexican street corn with cotija cheese.
Also, you say "gluten free concerns." So if some but not all need or want to avoid gluten, include alternative carb choices appropriate to the main...bread, pasta or rice; starchy vegetable like potato, sweet potato, celeriac, cauliflower (cut as steaks or rice).
Yes to the green salad others have suggested.
For dessert, take people up on offers to bring their specialties. Or provide your own, home made or good store-bought, depending on your energy at that stage.
Remember, you want your guests to eat well but yourself to be relaxed enough to enjoy them.