Tasty appetizers are the most important introduction to your large dinner party. Use these suggestions to start your party off on the right bite.
To entertain a large amount of people, it is a good idea to set up more than one appetizer station. That way there won’t be any lines for food, and people will be encouraged to mingle. Placing different dishes around the room invites your guests to travel around from dish to dish, moving the flow of your party and making it possible for more people to interact.
Some of the easiest appetizer dishes to set up at your stations include cheeses & meats and chips & dips. For your cheeses, choose a range of different types of cheese, not only from brie to blue, but also from cow to sheep to goat. Balance a few mild cheeses with a strong cheese to offer a little variety. You could be ambitious and cube pieces of cheese and stick toothpicks into them to make them easy to grab, or you can simply set up a cheese station with little cheese knives, different stacks of crackers, and a bowl of grapes or pear slices nearby to round out the palate. Place a platter of salami and prosciutto nearby to be more luxurious.
Consider placing a different kind of dip at each appetizer station. At one platter you can offer corn chips and guacamole. At another you can offer wheat thins or crackers and a melted cheese dip. At yet another you could offer Indian naan bread or chips and a spicy curry dip.
One of the great standbys for appetizer dishes is deviled eggs. Deviled eggs take a little more work for a big group, but since so much of the task is blending one large common mixture of filling, this is one of your best choices for a large party. If you’d like to offer something a bit fancier, consider Tyler Florence’s recipe for Lobster Deviled Eggs. Hard boil three dozen eggs and then place them in a cool water bath to halt their cooking. Shell the eggs and slice them in half. Scoop out the yolks and combine them in a large bowl with twenty-four ounces of cooked, chopped lobster meat, six teaspoons Dijon mustard, six tablespoons of chopped shallots, twelve tablespoons mayonnaise (use wasabi mayonnaise for a little kick of spice), and six tablespoons of capers and chives. Mix all this up and then spoon the mixture into the egg whites. Refrigerate for at least a half an hour to let this set.
When in doubt, you can also purchase pre-packaged appetizers at the store. Just be aware that when you have a large party oven space is prime real estate. Choose smaller appetizers so that you can combine several boxes of food onto a single cookie sheet.
With these suggestions, you’ll see your large dinner party mingle and relax, so that when they sit down for your dinner the laughter and camaraderie have already begun.