How to Host a Dinner Party: Part II
Week two of our hosting series is brought to you by the letter M, as in menu. The menu is arguably the most important aspect of planning a successful dinner party.
Of course the diet of your guests is a huge factor to be considered when planning a menu. If you’re inviting a guest list of largely vegetarian friends, the opting for a strictly vegetarian menu is a fool-proof way to please each guest. Does your dinner include a slew of adventurous eaters? Consider trying a cuisine you’ve never cooked before. Additionally, it’s always nice to offer a few substitution items for vegan, gluten free, or kosher guests. Accounting for varying eating styles is may seem taxing, however it will heavily inform each course of your dinner.
It’s important to consider varying food groups and as a rule of thumb, each dish should contain at least two of the three of the following aspects: protein, fruit/vegetable, starch. It’s also nice to include a variation of textures and temperatures. For example, softer food pairs great with a crunchy garnish, wile a spicy dish is offset nicely with a creamy, chilled sauce. You want each dish to fit cohesively within the menu; by planning flavors carefully, and not repeating in ingredients ad nauseum each course stands beautifully alone and with its counterparts.
If you’re planning a huge dinner party on a budget you should begin by shooting for the stars, and then reigning your lofty goals in with a tasteful and cost effective substituting; i.e. switch chicken breast for chicken thighs. As a rule of thumb shop in the bulk bins whenever possible, and use seasonally appropriate ingredients for a lower overhead.