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A Big Poker Party


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There's a new development going in near here that's geared towards "55 and more" adults. There are three model homes that are now complete, so the builder is planning to throw a "grand opening" type bash. I've been asked to do a cooking demo in one of the homes. Simple enough. I've ALSO been asked to provide food for another model home, which they plan to be "for the guys" featuring Texas Hold-Em games potential buyers can join at will. (The third home will just have coffee, tea and desserts provided by the builder.) They expect about 300 people to come, and they plan to serve tastes but not a full meal.

I've already got the demo stuff worked out. The poker food is another question. Obviously they don't want just chips and salsa, or they wouldn't have hired me. Most of the food I would normally want to do for this sort of thing (dry-rubbed ribs, sweet chili-glazed chicken wings, etc) is too messy--they don't want to have to steam-clean the carpets or replace the furniture in this model home when we're done, after all.

They suggested chili, which is a nice start--perhaps with cornbread. Is there a killer chili recipe I should make? I like the chili idea 'cause I can make it way in advance and freeze it. I'm also thinking mini muffalettas on sesame-semolina bread, since everybody loves those Italian meats. (If I make them properly, I can probably keep them from getting too messy, right?) Any other ideas? I expect to have one or two employees with me, but I don't want somebody to HAVE to be with the poker food all the time--I will need help with my demos and such too.

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Rochelle, do you have The Best Recipe? Their recipe for "Supermarket Chili" calls for ground beef, doubles and triples easily, and everyone we've fed it to has loved it. Very flavorful and great for a crowd, and you could maybe have a couple of toppings set out (crushed corn chips, diced pickled jalapenos, cheddar, sour cream, etc.).

Little sandwiches are a great idea. In addition to Muffeletta (Costco carries Citterio cold cuts - they are usually near the sausages) how about roast beef/cheddar on little onion rolls, and ham & swiss on pumpernickel rolls? I'm thinking this won't be a "chicken salad on croissant" crowd. :smile:

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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how about bbq chicken or bbq pork on mini biscuits

pigs in the blanket - pedestrian but beloved (did you see the NYTimes article about serving them at haute affairs)

or the modern version, italian sausage or chicken sausage with honey mustard in puff pastry.

mini sliders - same concept

korean meatballs - ginger & lemongrass, onions, chilis & pork or beef - glazed with orange sherry. serve them on skewers coming out of wheatgrass or kale or just in a chafer. Glaze them, don't sauce them.

quesadillas - make them international not mexican

like my favorite - american cheese, bacon & tomato with scallions

shrimp with goats cheese & mozzarella (not really old boy tho)

prime rib sliced thin wrapped around a small "log" of asiago mashed potatoes.

potato croquettes

potato pancakes with a dollop of sour cream onion dip

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...




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I like a lot of these ideas- particularly the muffaletta, pulled pork sandwiches, and bacon/cheese quesadillas. My friends and I play cards from time to time and we also like to have some sorta variant on lentil or bean salad handy as well (no messy fingers, yet tasty). Another idea may be to do sliced, roasted beef tenderloin on sliced Italian bread with horseradish sauce- one of my fave passed appetizers come party time and not that messy.

If you are looking for a chili recipe, I put one into Recipe Gullet last year that is easy to pull off yet has an (...ahem...) authentic flavor profile: Northern Valley Red. It can be scaled up pretty easily.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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I love the chili/cornbread thing, but upon reflection, I'd drop it. These dudes will be playing cards, and they don't have an extra hand to hold a fork. I'd try to do interesting but not too challenging finger food. The pigs in blankets idea is good, as are deviled eggs. Everyone loves them.

Meatballs fall into this category -- universal faves and can be chomped form a toothpick. Quesidillas would be excellent too. Bring out your wings. And any of the sandwich ideas are good.

This is, oddly, an area of expertise for me. When I was a student at McGill I was cook/waitress at the toney Vanderbilt Bridge Club. These were serious card players, and they were'nt there for the gastronomic Wow! They wanted tasty, easy to eat stuff.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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I figure this is not the time for gourmet wowie zowie, but I want to do good card-playing grub with quality ingredients. I like the meatball idea if I drop chili (though really, chili is easier and cheaper for me to produce in quantity)--I think both are redundant. I was considering mini pulled pork sammiches as well, but think there should be a non-porky sammich option and I'm too in love with the muffaletta to drop it. Hmmm. These are great ideas, folks, thanks!

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mini pulled pork sandwiches  :wub:

I'll ditto this suggestion. I've done it a few times for large informal parties. Economical and can be prepared well in advance. I served the PP on buns purchased at a White Castle. Came in bags of 100 for $10 each.

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Pepperoni Rolls

Tasty and easy to eat without any mess... :smile:

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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