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A Fireside Dinner with Friends

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The one party menu you need for any night of the season

In a month filled with big celebrations, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasures of having a few friends over for dinner. This hearty supper for twelve is a good reminder. It’s easy to pull together and packed with do-ahead tips (the main course gets even better if it spends a couple of days in the fridge). And it’s a great excuse to pause, enjoy the season with your favorite people, and cook up some memories.

Menu Timeline

Up to two days ahead:

  • Make the chicken stew and refrigerate, covered.
  • Make the crème brûlée custards, chill, wrap each ramekin in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

One hour ahead:

  • Toast the almonds for the salad.
  • Make the salad dressing.
  • Make the saffron couscous.

Thirty minutes ahead:

  • Reheat the chicken stew.
  • Make the salad.

Just before dessert:

  • Sprinkle the crème brûlées with sugar and caramelize the tops.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 6 medium carrots (1 lb.)
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 1 medium celery root (3⁄4 to 1 lb.)
  • 6 lightly packed cups baby arugula (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint (optional)
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 large piece fresh ginger

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 6 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 25 thighs)
  • 10 large eggs
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 2 quarts lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 2 cups small green olives, such as picholine or manzanilla
  • 3 cups (1-1⁄2 lb.) couscous
  • 3⁄4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 small dried red chiles, preferably chile de Arbol
  • 1 Tbs. ground turmeric
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 1⁄2 tsp. saffron threads

Pantry Staples

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1⁄4 tsp. table salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu

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