Dinner Party: The Surprise Ingredients

Studio 5 Contributor Laura Wolford gives some ideas on how to throw a dinner party where the main guest is the element of surprise.

The idea is that you would have to create a dish for the dinner party, but you wouldn’t be able to control what the ingredients would be. With inspiration from the TV show “Chopped”, each guest would be surprised with a group of ingredients, and then have to cook something.

To get your mind going, Laura created some ideas for four different ingredients that could be combined for a surprise challenge.

Laura’s Secret Box Ingredients

Group #1
Pork Loin, Pomegranate, Apple Beer, Rice Krispies

Group #2
Chicken Thighs, Edamame, Rice Vinegar, Peanut Butter

Group #3
Steak, Peach, Sesame Seeds, Chickpeas

Group #4
Fish Fillet, Raspberries, Anaheim Pepper, Ketchup

Group #5
Chicken Breast, Squash, Beets, Root Beer

Group #6
Hamburger, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Fennel, Iceberg Lettuce

Don’t be overwhelmed at what to do. There are some secrets for using basic things. Keeping these in mind should make sure you don’t get anything you can’t figure out how to use.

Laura’s Helps for Using Challenging Ingredients

1. When there is a sweet ingredient offered off set it with something spicy and visa versa.

2. If there is a fruit or liquid offered, think about creating a sauce or marinade, and also remember to add the zest of the fruit to the dish for added flavor.

3. Think about using unique ingredients as a possible rub or in a marinade.

4. Remember by reducing liquids it intensifies the flavors.

5. Consider pounding or stuffing meat, you can even roll it up. Also look at the possibility of breading and frying.

6. Remember there are many ways to cook, sauté, broil, bake, roast, steam, fry, poach, microwave, grill, skewer….consider all the possibilities.

7. A food processor might come in handy for a sauce or perhaps a creamed soup.

8. When you first look at your surprise ingredients think it through in your head, take an inventory and categorize, for an example let’s try box number 1:

BOX #1: Pork loin, pomegranate, apple beer and                rice krispies.

Sounds weird I know, but when I start to break it down it can actually work, and I think it might make a pretty tasty meal. First, I’d make a sauce with the pomegranate and apple beer, off setting the sweetness with something like a jalapeño, mustard or onions. Then I’d season the rice krispies and crush them to coat the pork loin. Then I’d sauté the pork in a little bit of butter or olive oil. I’d garnish the dish with additional pomegranate seeds and caramelized apple slices; serve with the sauce. I’m guessing this would be pretty yummy – I’ve never made anything like it before….but it sounds like it should work. That gives you an example of how my mind works through a secret ingredient challenge.

Studio 5 wants to encourage you to have a dinner party. All this year, Laura Wolford has been helping to inspire your parties. If you throw a party, send us a photo and let us know how it went.

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