Food for crowds

Here’s the thing: you want it to be delicious, you want there to be plenty of it, and you want it to be fresh and simple. If you don’t want all of that, think it through, and then you’ll want it.

Here are my suggestions: Mussel brodetto. This is lemony, garlicky mussels, without the panic of the pasta. Just smash about 4 garlic cloves for every 3 pounds of rinsed, scrubbed mussels. Stir the garlic around with a hefty spill of olive oil in a wide pan that has a cover. If you have a few sprigs of marjoram or oregano or parsley, add those as well. Now add a few super thinly sliced pieces of lemon, and 3 minced shallots. Saute til cooked through, but not browned. (a little golden is fine) Season with salt and black pepper. If you want a taste of Napoli, add a few red pepper flakes. Now pour in a cup of GOOD dry white wine. Let that simmer, uncovered for about 2 minutes. Add the mussels. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil so good you could drink it, or if you don’t have that, a few tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle with homemade bread crumbs, (finely ground and toasted) and serve with the best bread you can get your hands on.

A pork shoulder seared, then braised with shallot, fennel, a few tomatoes, carrots, and heads of garlic, basted with a good pour of white or red wine. Serve the whole thing with some cheesy polenta and garlicky greens (broccoli rabe would be excellent)

Tons of lightly braised vegetables served with a parsley sauce or aoili

A basket of pears and apples from your farmers market with lightly roasted nuts, gorgeous dried fruits and beautiful cheese.

Roast a chicken and serve with roasted potatoes, braised onions, a mixed green salad with plenty of herbs in it and a cranberry, dried cherry sauce

Make a roast beef and cook til medium rare. (cover with olive oil, salt, pepper, onion slices, thyme sprig, and garlic before it goes in) and serve with grated fresh horseradish and sour cream and roasted cherry tomatoes. Great on sandwiches. Beautiful with a fresh beet salad (braise or roast the beets and dress with classic vinaigrette.)

Go big for your desserts. Make a yule log or a chocolate mousse or creme brulee or a baked apples stuffed with brown sugar and cinnamon, drizzled with calvados and served with big spoonful of fresh cream.

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