Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Menu

Open House for a Crowd

Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note
Featured in our 2017 Christmas Guide

The big buffet: It's as easy as two do-ahead mains and a grab bag of sides

The shopping list already reflects the scaled-up amounts.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, I have three words of advice: open house buffet. Give guests a window of time to drop by, start with a festive cocktail, and fill your biggest table with scrumptious dishes that are mostly make-ahead. The result is an elegant yet low-key party that takes the stress out of entertaining.

As a party pro, I’ve developed a foolproof strategy for building a crowd-friendly buffet: Start with a couple of main dishes that taste great at room temperature, supplement them with simple sides, and then fill out the table with store-bought extras like spiced or candied mixed nuts, crudité and dip, a cheese platter garnished with fresh and dried fruit. For dessert, ask guests to bring cookies or other bite-size sweets. 

 

Download a pdf of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list, and timeline

Menu Timeline

One day ahead:

  • Make the chutney, buttermilk dip, and horseradish cream
  • Position the buffet table and set with linens, serving platters, utensils, and decorations.

Five hours ahead:

  • Make and bake the biscuits.

Four hours ahead:

  • Bake the ham.
  • Mix the orange-maple mustard (see note in ham recipe).

Three hours ahead:

  • Make the butternilk marinade and prep the ingredients for the cucumber salad; refrigerate.
  • Cook the broccoli and prep the gremolata ingredients.

90 minutes ahead:

  • Roast the potatoes.
  • Clean and prep the vegetables for the crudité and arrange them on their serving platter.

One hour ahead:

  • Marinate the salmon.
  • Remove the cheeses from the refrigerator and arrange them on their serving platter.

30 minutes ahead:

  • Roast the salmon.
  • Put all condiments and mixed nuts in their serving bowls.

Just before serving:

  • Salt and dress the cucumber salad.
  • Mix the gremolata with the broccoli.
  • Slice the ham.
  • Platter the salmon.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 8 lb. small fingerling potatoes
  • about 6 lb. fresh, assorted vegetables for crudités (carrots, celery, pickling cucumbers, radishes, or whatever’s in season)
  • 6 lb. fresh broccoli
  • 3 large English cucumbers
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large red onion
  • 3 large bunches fresh chives
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 6 medium scallions
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 4-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 3 medium lemons
  • 8 medium limes
  • Grapes and fresh figs for the cheese board (optional)

Meat, Fish, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 smoked half-ham, preferably a bone-in butt half (8 to 9 lb.)
  • 2 sides of salmon (3 lb. each)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 4 cups sour cream
  • 5 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Assorted cheeses (such as Camembert, Roquefort, fresh chevre, Parmigiano-Reggiano) for cheese board (optional)

Other Groceries

  • 6 cups pear brandy (like Poire Williams)
  • 3 cups triple sec (like Cointreau)
  • 1-1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives
  • 3⁄4 cup high-quality orange marmalade
  • 1⁄2 cup bourbon or dark rum
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil (optional)
  • Dried apricots and/or fig-almond cake for the cheese board (optional)

Pantry Staples

  • 16 oz. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 1-1⁄4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 4-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco; more to taste
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • Fine sea salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Paris, France (504)

Experience Paris like a local in this special episode of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking. Host Pete Evans pays a visit to two culinary icons: chefs Patricia Wells and Guy…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks