Created on: February 06, 2013
Dinner parties can be great fun, but the person who is preparing and cooking all the food may not have the time to enjoy it. An alternative is a progressive dinner, which involves a few households sharing the cooking — usually one household will prepare the appetizers, while others take care of the main course, dessert, cocktails and cheese and biscuits in turn.
However, people may be late and the cook for each course won’t have much time to prepare if he or she wants to fully participate in the event, which makes choosing dishes for a progressive dinner a little less straightforward than it otherwise might have been. The following ideas should give you some food for thought when preparing for a progressive dinner.
Starters are a relatively easy choice that would suit someone with few cooking skills. However, some thought still needs to go into what is prepared. For example, if you decide to make Italian bruschetta, you wouldn’t want to add the tomato and basil mixture to the bread until the last minute — otherwise it could be soggy by the time that people get around to eating it. Also anything that should be served hot will need to be put into the oven just minutes before it is served, or it is likely to burn to a crisp. Some relatively easy ideas for starters include seasonal vegetable soup with a swirl of cream and a side of cheesy garlic bread and Thai minced chicken salad.
The main course is likely to be the most time-consuming course, as well as being the easiest to get wrong. Most main courses will involve meat, which is in itself a problem. Over-cooked or under-cooked meat can be inedible, but when you don’t really know what time people will arrive, it can be very hard to time it right. Think through what you want to cook and whether there is room for lateness.
Easy options include casseroles or other dishes that cook the meat in plenty of juices. However, if you want to be a bit more adventurous, you could leave the cooking until people arrive. If you stick to something like a stir fry, it should only take ten minutes to cook the food, which is plenty of time if you have already prepped the ingredients and provide drinks while guests are waiting. You could also cook steak, which has been marinated beforehand, to each individual person’s taste.
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