Sunday, October 3, 2010
Bacon on the Menu (Eric's 28th Birthday Dinner Party)
On Thursday after work we got in the little Nissan Versa and headed to Costco, always a dangerous thing. Way too much money and a very full little car later we were in the kitchen preparing for the next day. One thing we've learned over the years is Eric has no time management skills. Actually Eric knew this already but Charisse had to figure this out over many instances of: "You said this would take 20 minutes and its been 5 hours!". Needless to say with multiple courses like this, Charisse claims the kitchen as her own. A key thing for us when we produce something like this menu is the preplanning. Charisse will figure out how long each course will take to cook and time out when she needs to have them done by. We also will pre-cook as much as possible the night before. Anything that can be made ahead of time and reheated or just thrown in the oven to start cooking must get done the day before. We spent about 4 hours Thursday night pre-cooking and prepping (chopping, slicing etc) everything so on Friday there was very little work to be done. That meant that we all socialized more and felt like we were part of the party, not part of the hired help.
Since it was Eric's birthday, we figured it was only fitting to have both of our parents over for a birthday dinner party. When everyone arrived Eric started pouring our signature Candied Bacon Martinis, a drink for any guest with a sweet tooth. A signature cocktail is a great way to start the evening and set the mood and theme for any party, plus it's a great way to save a little dough on liquor. Knowing exactly what you need, instead of guessing what your guests will be asking for. With Amaretto, maple syrup and Applejack brandy this drink is like liquid candy for grownups and Charisse's Dad loved it. When Pat was done licking the bottom of his glass, we pulled out the first course which featured one of the best things we've ever tasted: Bourbon Bacon Marmalade. Although it took 2 pounds of bacon and over three hours to make, it was totally worth the work. We served it on a sweet potato cake topped with grilled prawns, and it a dream come true. Seriously, we could have ended the dinner with this course and our guests wouldn't have know the difference. But we had to resist seconds and move on to the next course of the evening our Leek Shooters with Bacon Essence. They were creamy and tasted almost like we'd smoked the leeks, a trick we use in the kitchen often. It is amazing what a little rendered bacon fat can do for an ordinary dish. Our main course was an individual serving of Cornish Game Hen with Apple Bacon Stuffing for each guest. Again our secret ingredient (bacon fat) made its appearance as a smokey back flavor that turned the skins of the hen into a crispy golden brown delight. And of course we couldn't have a birthday celebration with out a fantastic dessert fit for birthday boy! All of his favorite things were incorporated into the hit of the evening. A molten chocolate stout cake topped with a Bacon Creme Anglaise and Pig Candy.
After the guests had eaten and Eric opened his gifts we all decided it was time to loosen our belts by a few notches and Charisse admitted that she was a bit worried about how the meal was going to turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. Everyone agreed that when they read the menu, Bacon Martinis? Bacon Creme Anglaise? They were a little concerned themselves, but wanted to be adventurous and try new things and boy were they satisfied. Now if only we had a secret on how to get the kitchen clean after a dinner party!
Posted by foodies@home at 5:13 PM