Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a birthday party menu

I've thrown a ton of cocktail parties at our loft. I always love putting together the menu - generally small appetizer bites or maybe even a simple chili for the Halloween party. So I thought that writing a menu for a sit-down dinner for 22 people would be no big deal.

Yeah, I was a little wrong about that one.

There's lots to consider when planning a sit-down dinner for this many people. You want the hot food to be hot and the cold food to be cold, and I only have 1 oven, so you have to appropriately time your cooking. I hate to be in the kitchen while everyone's enjoying appetizers and wine, so I wanted to make dishes I could prep ahead of time. And, there's that whole cost factor - cooking for 22 people can get expensive! - so I needed to pick seasonal and affordable dishes.

Ultimately, I came up with this menu. And I'm pretty proud of it! Based on the responses, I think the pork was the biggest crowd pleaser (see recipe below).

On the upside, I had so much fun mingling at the party and didn't spend that much time in the kitchen. On the downside, I hardly got any pictures of the food. Tear. 

(prepping food)

(peeling shallots)

(bowls and bowls of brussel sprouts)

(chocolate chip cookies)

(salad served)

(removing the pork from the oven)

Apricot and Thyme Pork Tenderloin
(22 entrees)

7 pounds pork tenderloins
4 T olive oil
6 shallots
1 package fresh thyme
2 jars apricot jam

Chop shallots and saute in olive oil on medium low heat. Strip thyme leaves of the stems and chop. Add to the shallots. Cook approximately 10 minutes. Add apricot jam and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let jam, shallot, and thyme mixture come to room temperature, cover in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge.

...Next day...

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set pork tenderloins on sheet pans and cover with half of the apricot sauce. Cook until pork registers at 145 degrees (about 20-25 minutes). Remove pork from oven and cover in foil. Let rest 5-7 minutes. Slice pork into 1-2 inch slices, drizzle with remaining sauce, and serve!

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