Lesson 1 - Prep as much in advance as you can.
Lesson 2 - Have one star of the show, and keep the others as supporting characters. (Translation: just one dish that's somewhat complicated; keep the others simple.)
I feel like I should think of a lesson three, but that's really it!
So, I put this in practice yesterday.
The menu: slow-cooked/grilled pork ribs (the star), arugula salad, grilled corn; drinks - Sierra Nevada Summerfest; Penfold's Koonunga Hills Shiraz - both paired very well.
Saturday, I picked up all my ingredients. (While hubby sat with a sleeping baby in the car!) Sunday - during morning nap, I made my homemade BBQ sauce and dry rub, trimmed the fat & connective tissues from the ribs and covered them in the dry rub. During the second nap, I peeled & chopped 2 mangoes; cleaned the corn, placed each ear on a square of foil & seasoned it with EVOO/salt/pepper.
Arugula & Mango Salad
1 bag baby arugula (or full size)
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped.
* prep mangoes ahead of time, toss at last minute; with juice of one lime. That's IT; for real.
Corn - I can't even pretend there's a recipe. I already wrote what I did above!
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP paprika
1 TBSP onion powder
3/4 tsp celery salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
* Confession: I did not buy celery salt. I used a little kosher salt, a little garlic powder, and a pinch of dillweed.)
3 TBSP EVOO
3 tsp minced garlic
2 1/4 cups ketchup
3/4 cups low salt chicken broth
3 TBSP soy sauce
6 TBSP packed brown sugar
4 1/2 TBSP molasses
3 TBSP red wine vinegar.
* Warm EVOO over medium heat; add garlic for a few minutes, then add everything else. Stir together, bring to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer. A couple hours will do the trick, but more doesn't hurt. You can do this in advance (I've done a week even) and then just reheat before your shindig.
Reasons I have nothing to brag about:
1. "Homemade" BBQ sauce is essentially dressed-up ketchup.
2. It is not even my recipe.
3. Dry rub is easy to mix and fun to put on the meat!
4. It is not even my recipe.
5. Mixing arugula & mango together & calling it a salad was Christine Fullerton's idea; though I did add the lime juice. But really, you just have to try it!!!
6. I will brag anyway. :)