Do you lose your funky mind when you host a big group for dinner? Do you get so stressed out that you get a headache? Stomach pains? Do you collapse into a ball of hate once
everyone leaves? Wow, take it easy guys! I was like that for years. I am going to let you in on a little secret that some people don’t know about. You are supposed to have fun when people come over too. Shocking, I know but it’s true. A good host can’t (and won’t damn it!!) disappear in the kitchen for most of the night. So what can you do to avoid the stress? To make a great meal and still focus on your guests? How to get hammered and still keep your pants on?
Lucky for you I can help you with the first two easily enough. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am still working on that last one.
First, Like Frankie Say, Just Relax. Take a few deep breaths,
burn a spliff..wait, what? That’s STILL illegal here? Oh, sorry I thought we lived in a progressive country. Strike that last suggestion from the record please. I mentioned this in another article a while back. Just chill out. If you have friends or family that will actually hold it against you because a meal wasn’t the greatest, well then, they just cashed their ticket to never get invited again right? Not that I am endorsing making a crappy meal but a flop can happen from time to time. They make pills for that now though by the way. Just remember, the people that are there are there to spend time with you, not to critque your meal.
Break away from tradition. With all due respect to turkey lovers everywhere it is ok to cook something else occasionally at Christmas. I love that saying “with all due respect”. It’s a free pass to just say whatever you want after that isn’t it? If someone is always a dirtbag with you and deserves no respect you can say something like,”With all due respect you’ve got your head so far up your ass you can see what you ate last week.” Anyway, what the hell was I talking about? Ah yes, as great as turkey can be, if you just had it at Thanksgiving there are other options now you can explore. Go for some prime rib, or even a massive lasagna, or how about some duck legs confit? Which brings me to my next point…
Keep it Stupid, Simple. Look, if you are hosting a large group you aren’t doing yourself any favours if you’re serving a 10 course, super complicated meal. This isn’t Iron Chef America. There is no prize at the end of the meal. Roast a bird, roast some beef, smoke rack upon rack of ribs, but stick to simpler, low maintenance plates. I have a friend whose head is quite possibly literally made out of cement. He hosts a Christmas dinner the week before the 25th for about 16 of us each year. He insists upon making a minimum of 12 courses. He is a fantastic cook but is famously terrible at managing his time. For the first few years we would only finishing eat at about 3h30 in the morning until he began to….
Prepare Ahead of Time. This is the time of year where the most snacks, finger foods and amuse guelles are served. If you are busting your ass all evening long popping this stuff out on top of cooking your main meal you are just begging for a disaster. You want to serve soup? Make it the week before and freeze it. It keeps great and then just needs to simmer on the day of. You want to make a pasta dish somewhere in there too? Make the sauce in advance.
I love snacking and munching all through the day on the holidays and I much prefer the homemade stuff to say throwing a box of frozen chicken wings into the oven every time people are over. Don’t get me wrong, I love those too and do serve them sometimes but the holidays are THE best time of year to party and eat. I love sweets this time of year too. Lucky for me my mother in-law and my lady friend love to bake! But check out what they did here! They made the dough and filling ahead of the holidays and rolled it but this time they are keeping the rolls whole until the day of. So all I’ll need to do is take this out of the freezer that day, slice them up and bake some cookies so they are still warm when I serve them. And who will be the hero when they are served? That’s right, me! You think Wayne Gretzky tied his own skates? No way. Judge me all you want, I am taking all the glory.
Another traditional holiday dish around these parts is tortiere, or meat pie if you will. But it can be heavy along with turkey and all the trimmings or whatever else it is you have chosen to serve. As much as I love to go against tradition meat pie is a necessity for me this time of year. In another stroke of luck the same geniuses that made that cookie dough also make meat pie in these little bite sized patties along with some homemade ketchup. I didn’t think it was possible but these things are even more addictive than an actual pie.
These bad boys freeze really well too and while it is nice to always show up somewhere with a bottle of wine when you visit someone, bring a fancy cookie tin of these puppies over as a little gift and you will be the hit of the party. Don’t be cheap either, bring some of those cookies over too.
When you’re in the rush of cooking, cleaning, shopping and visiting family and friends over the next few weeks it can get overwhelming. You can see it on people’s faces too when they are at their breaking point. We’re kind of starting to miss the point of this season. We’re supposed to be giving thanks and show gratitude for what we have and…what? That was last holiday? Damn it I need to get new admins who are on top of their game. We’re supposed to enjoy time with family and friends. Have some hopefully great food, have a few drinks. Maybe open a kick ass gift or two **HINT PS4 HINT** along the way. So, get alot of the heavy lifting out of the way ahead of time. Show people how you can kick ass in the kitchen, make a killer cocktail, wrap a gift like a pro, and look sexy and not even break into a sweat while doing it. Trust me, it can be done. And remember, if all else fails just get ripped and act like an ass. You’ll never have to host again. That, my friends is why they call me a problem solver.
Categories: Phood Philosophies