The Second Annual “No Football Sunday Dinner”

It’s that time again folks.  The football season is over so we all have our Sunday afternoons back for a while.  To help ease the transition I’ve started the tradition of the “No Football Sunday Dinner.”  This year it’s a Caribbean themed meal with a Southern dessert.  Plenty of good friends and plenty of wine.

Here’s the meal plan for this year:

  • Pork Shoulder Pernil with Cilantro-Citrus Adobo
  • Mashed Plantains (Mangu)
  • Cuban Black Beans and Rice
  • Brazilian Collards
  • Romaine Salad with Hearts of Palm and Oranges
  • Mom’s Rolls
  • Coca Cola Cake with Chocolate Ganache

It’s a pretty ambitious menu, but what’s life without a challenge?  The only way to serve this kind of menu to 13 people in your home is to be super organized.  At least that’s the only way it works for me.  Today I cleaned the house, set the tables, set up the bar, made the cake, chopped the collards, chopped the onions for the salad and the plantains and put the black beans and sofrito in the crock pot.  I think that’s everything I could reasonably do ahead of time.  And frankly, I’ve run out of steam for today.

The key to prep work is to do everything in the most efficient order.   Do things that can cook unattended first and then let them cook while you do other things.  Do your chopping and measuring ahead of time as much as possible so that on party day you just have to put things together.  Make sure you leave the kitchen clean before you go to bed.  Seriously, you’ll thank yourself for the extra effort when you get back in the kitchen to do your real cooking the next day.

So, how do you organize yourself on party day?  One of the hardest things about throwing a dinner party is getting all the food ready at about the same time so that nothing overcooks or gets cold waiting on something else.  I have a friend who keeps a list for timing purposes.  He starts with the time he needs everything done and works his way backwards so he’ll know when each item needs to be started.  It’s a good system.  I do basically the same thing, but I keep it in my head.  I’m apt to lose a list that I write down.  After you’ve done this a few times you’ll know that you have to start the rolls first and that the whipped cream bowl needs to go in the fridge before you start whipping the cream.  You can put a salad together early as long as you leave any wet ingredients to the last minute.  You can dress the salad while the meat is resting.  Soon enough you’ll work out a system that fits your style and your kitchen.

In the end remember that your friends are there to hang out with you.  If the meal goes horribly awry there’s almost always a pizza place that delivers!



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