A few weeks back my husband Brad and I decided to grill and take advantage of the spring-ish weather, so we hosted an impromptu dinner party. We wanted to kick off the season, spend some time relaxing, and simply enjoy an evening with good food and good friends!
Brad and I really enjoy hosting together and split duties with him on the grill, while I’m in charge of side dishes. We always ask friends to bring an appetizer, dessert, or wine. It’s perfect and allows us to hang and enjoy the night rather than constantly worry about an elaborate dinner plan.
Brad is awesome on the grill and one of my favorite things that he makes is Grilled Argentine Chicken. It’s just like my family always made and really it’s more technique than recipe. Start with a whole chicken, stand the chicken on its rear end and cut along the side of the chicken with the leg and wing – it’s kind of a straight line between the breast and the backbone. Then force the chicken flat by breaking the breast bone.
Next, generously salt and pepper both sides and throw it on the grill, bone down for 45 minutes at the lowest setting on the grill (we use a gas grill). After that, flip the chicken and pour the juice of three lemons right over the top. Cook for 30 minutes more until the juices run clear and the chicken is golden.
Take chicken off the grill, place on a half sheet pan and pour the juice of two lemons on the skin side. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve. Really, you can’t go wrong grilling chicken with just salt, pepper and lemon juice!
I put together some easy sides including Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro (from the Easy Weeknight Sides post), Lentil & Tomato Salad, and Ina’s Roasted Shrimp. I always buy the shrimp cleaned and deveined - I know it costs more but it makes my like SO much easier. Roasted Shrimp is a huge hit at my house and I make it all the time. The Green Goddess Basil sauce is awesome - I have a few friends who are slightly obsessed with it!
Like I said, our goal was to spend time enjoying the food and our company so we chose easy dishes that we’d made before and didn’t require a lot of fuss. I’ve included the recipes below and I highly suggest them for your next impromtu get-together or dinner party.
Lentil & Tomato Salad
1 cup dried lentils (preferably small French lentils)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups tomatoes, diced
4 large scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan with lentils, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, scallions, dill, basil, parsley, vinegar, oil, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
Adapted from Epicurious
Ina's Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Green Goddess Dressing
For the shrimp:
2 pounds large shrimp (14 to16 shrimp per pound)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
1 cup chopped basil leaves (18 to 20 leaves)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 stalks celery, cut into sticks
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. (I always buy the shrimp cleaned and deveined, it cost more but it saves me so much time and frustration). Place them on a half sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in one layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
For the dressing, place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Serve as a dip for the shrimp with the celery sticks.
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