There is nothing more that I like than having a dinner party. An intimate dinner party. I prefer to entertain with a small group of friends. Whenever you have to cook for the masses, the quality of the food slips. But don’t get me wrong, I do love a big party. Every year for my birthday I invite everyone that I’ve ever known and everyone that I’ve ever liked and disliked. These parties usually get out of hand and end up with someone asleep in the driveway.
The first time I was moving to Paris in 2009, I had a huge bon voyage party. I had the party at my awesome friend Diandra’s house which was being rented by my other awesome friend, Susan. One big happy family up there at the villa. We have had zillions of dinner parties at this house and they have all been rather formal so I decided this time, this party, we were going to let our hair down a bit. I decided we were going to have a Mexican fiesta. First things first, I turned off all of the water in the house. There was no way anyone was drinking water, only tequila. I told every guest to bring a bottle of tequila. If you wanted any water you were going to have to drink out of the toilet, the pool or the koi pond.
I ordered Mexican food from crappy Baja Fresh. Lots of it. One of my favorite awesome friends is a self-proclaimed high maintenance New York Upper East Side/Hamptons on the weekends Jewish-American princess and when she saw the platters of sloppy burritos on the beautiful 18th-century Spanish dining room table, her mouth dropped open. I’m pretty sure I heard an “Oy vey.” She was horrified but guess what? Nine tequila shots later she was shoving taquitos down her throat at an alarming rate. No one is too good for a taquito! I also hired a karaoke/DJ for the night. This is the best move I’ve ever made.
Everyone was a bit shy in the beginning with the DJ and karaoke machine because these are hoity-toity Santa Barbara “society people.” But after one of my awesome friends from LA, Rachel, started singing Madonna’s Like a Virgin and was rolling all over the sisal rug… The floodgates were open and all hell broke loose. I remember a bunch of girls, including myself, standing on the antique Chinese coffee table, with microphones singing with a real live Beach Boy (family friend) to California Girls at the top of our lungs. Things moved into the dining room at one point to the piano where my other awesome friend, Steve, played Elton John and everyone sang along with nearly tears in their eyes. Tequila will do that to you. The party lasted until sun up. The next morning we found people asleep everywhere. Like, fancy people. Fancy people sleeping in their cocktail dresses in the Japanese tea garden.
Now, don’t forget, I read cookbooks like they are romance novels and I watch cooking shows like they are porn. I know my way around a roasted chicken. Roasted chicken is a very particular little dish. Everyone has their own way, their own style and their own preferences. Do you baste the bird? Butter or olive oil? Do you brine the bird? What’s the best temperature? To truss or not to truss? What’s the best resting time? Blah blah blah. My advice? Experiment for yourself and see what works best for you but start with some good basics. For this, I would turn to Thomas Keller, Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten or Daniel Boulud. Here are their recipes…
Daniel Boulud’s roasted chicken recipe HERE.
So after you’ve mastered the perfect roasted chicken you can take it up a notch and change things a bit. Check out these few interesting recipes…
Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Grapes recipe HERE
I am kind of a recipe collector so I have put together my favorite roasted chicken recipes on my Pinterest board. You can check it out HERE.
Stay tuned for the next installment of The Art of Entertaining. Hint: “bougie.”