When was the last time you attended a progressive dinner party? Or any dinner party for that matter? For me, it has been a couple of years that I’ve attended a progressive dinner party and at least 7 weeks since I’ve attended a dinner party outside of our family of four every night at about 8:30 p.m.
My friends and I thought it would be a fun thing to create a “virtual” progressive dinner party of sorts since we can’t have actual dinner parties. Once I saw the menu I was even more intrigued and Cindy and her husband Steve added wine pairing for each course.
What is a progressive dinner party?
I was pretty sure I could define it, but just to be sure I didn’t have some false idea, I looked up the Wikipedia definition to find out that in the UK, the name for it is safari supper. I like that!
Wikipedia definition: Progressive Dinner Party: “A progressive dinner (US) or safari supper (UK) is a dinner party with successive courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts. Usually, this involves the consumption of one course at each location. Involving travel, it is a variant on a potluck dinner and is sometimes known as a round-robin. An alternative is to have each course at a different dining area within a single large establishment. In a safari supper, the destination of the next course is generally unknown by the participants, and they have to decipher a clue before moving on. In the USA, participants go to each house for various courses. Often there is a regional theme for each dinner, such as Italian, German, or French. Various wines to suit the courses are often served at each location. A challenge is keeping the food warm and ready at each location. An alternative is to have the courses at different restaurants.” Wikipedia
The dish that inspired the idea
What started off this idea was that I wanted to share Alison Roman’s Caramelized Shallot Pasta. It’s beyond delicious and we have been making it on repeat over the last two weeks. We have found multiple and equally as delicious ways to use the “sauce” other than with pasta. I’ll be sharing those in an upcoming post.
A virtual progressive dinner party menu
Who are the attendees?
In order of appearance . . .
Alison Roman’s Caramelized Shallot Pasta
When you make this pasta for the first time…I promise, you will wonder where has it been your whole life! It’s that delicious!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 large shallots, sliced very thin
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy filets, drained, but not rinsed.
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste or one (4.5-ounce) tube tomato paste
- 1 16-ounce package bucatini pasta (with reserved pasta water…don’t forget)!
- fresh parsley, finely chopped
- freshly grated parmesan
- Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven (I used my Le Cresuet) over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots have softened with golden brown edges. This takes about 20 minutes
- Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies drained and straight from the can. No need to chop them. They will dissolve when they’re cooked. Stir to combine the anchovies with the shallots, about 2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent any scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil a bit, caramelizing at the edges, and turning from bright red to a deeper rusty, brick color, about 2 minutes
- Remove the pot from the heat and transfer about half of the sauce into a jar, leaving the rest behind. (These are your leftovers that you can use for a future dish).
Fill another large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions or until very al-dente. Save a cup of pasta water when draining. Transfer the cooked pasta to Dutch oven with the remaining shallot mixture and one cup of pasta water. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing the pasta with the shallot mixture to coat each piece of pasta, use a wooden spoon to scape up any bits at the bottom until the pasta is a thick sauce and is reduced and is sticky, but not saucy, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide pasta into bowls or one large serving bowl and top with a little parmesan cheese and the fresh parsley.
A simple nature-inspired table
I use simple flowers, herbs, and branches for all my dinner parties. But this year, we are forced to get creative and use what’s outside our door. For us here in Connecticut, we have tulips, but I’m more drawn to the branches. There are so many that are beautiful in the early stages of leafing out. I always use simple white candles in jars or votive candles in cups. You can see more tablescapes here and here.