Party like it’s 1988 with this throwback election night party menu

November 4, 2016 | By | Comments (0)
Election Night Party Menu

From the November 1988 issue of Sunset

With all the drama of this year’s presidential race, we’ve been yearning for the simpler times of elections past. You know, back when the candidates didn’t have Twitter or email accounts, and the voters’ pre-election homework didn’t include researching whether or not it was legal to take a selfie in the voting booth.

So, we’re harking back to 1988 and pulling this gem from our archives: an entertaining story on what to serve at your “light-hearted gathering” on election night.

Feeling brave enough to watch this year’s election returns with friends and family? Here’s the full menu (please pardon the bad puns):

Republican Punch with Grape Ideas
For each serving, thread 4 or 5 seedless grapes onto the pointed end of a slender wooden skewer (about 8 in. long); you can glue a small paper flag to the blunt end of each skewer, if you like. Fill a tall flute glass with about 1/2 cup (4 oz.) natural or brut champagne or sparkling wine. Add a grape swizzle (if you pour the wine over the fruit, it fizzes excessively).

Ballot Bites Assorted Nuts
Present a tray of your favorite nibbling foods, including crisp vegetables such as radishes, fennel, and little carrots.

Democratic Stew
12 to 14 pounds veal shanks, cut about 1-1/2 inches thick
1/2 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine
1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 to 8 cups regular-strength chicken broth
3 tablespoons each corn starch and water, mixed until smooth
Cover-ups (directions follow)

Rinse veal and pat dry. Put 2 tablespoons butter in each of 2 pans, each about 12 by 14 inches. Set in a 475-degree oven. When butter sizzles, lay shanks in a single layer in pans. Roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then turn shanks over and alternate pan positions. Continue roasting until juices around shanks begin to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Mix together ginger, lemon peel, thyme, and cinnamon. Remove meat from oven and sprinkle ginger mixture over it. Add 3 cups broth to each pan. With a spoon, scrape and stir to release most of the browned bits in pans.

Cover tightly with foil. Return to oven and bake 1 hour; alternate pan positions. Continue baking until meat is tender enough to pull apart easily, about 1 hour. With a slotted spoon, lift shanks gently from pans and set aside. Pour broth through a fine strainer into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan; press any liquid from residue in strainer. Discard residue. Add enough remaining broth to pan to make 3 cups.

Rinse roasting pans and set shanks gently back in them in a single layer. At this point, you can cover meat and broth and chill until next day. Cover shanks tightly with foil. Place in a 350-degree oven until hot, about 15 minutes if warm, about 45 minutes if chilled.

Cover-ups: Combine 1/2 cup minced parsley, 3 cloves finely chopped garlic, and 1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon peel.

Liberal Vegetable Caucus
4 pounds red thin-skinned potatoes (about 2 ½-in. diameter), scrubbed and quartered
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic, peeled and coarsely diced
Watercress sprigs, rinsed and crisped
Salt and pepper

Mix potatoes and oil in roasting pan, about 12 by 14 inches. Bake, uncovered, in a 475-degree oven for 30 minutes, then add garlic and turn potatoes with a wide spatula. Continue baking, turning at intervals, until potatoes are well browned, about 20 to 25 minutes longer.

If made ahead, keep potatoes warm, uncovered, up to 4 hours; flavor is best if potatoes don’t get cold. (You can use the turned-off oven; leave door ajar until temperature drops to about 200 degrees, then close.) Reheat, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven until hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into a bowl and garnish with watercress. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Conservative Vegetable Caucus
4 pounds carrots, peeled
1 ½ pounds red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
Parsley sprigs
Salt and pepper

Using a food processor or hand-operated slicer, thinly slice carrots cross-wise. Combine them with the peppers, onions, and oil in a roasting pan, about 12 by 14 inches. Bake uncovered in a 475-degree oven until carrots begin to brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Then cook and turn frequently until carrots are glazed dark brown (they cook down a lot), about 1 hour longer. Add vinegar and mix well. If made ahead, let stand at room temperature (cover when cool) up to 8 hours. Reheat in a 350-degree oven, uncovered, until warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into a bowl; garnish with parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Lame Duck Salad
½ to ¾ pound green- or red-leaf lettuce
About ½ pound each escarole and curly chicory (or all escarole or chicory)
About ½ pound radicchio
Lame duck (optional, directions follow)
House dressing (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper

Wash and drain lettuce, escarole, chicory, and radicchio, separating leaves from cores and discarding bruised leaves. Wrap lettuces in paper towels, enclose in plastic bags, and chill 30 minutes or up 2 days. Line 1 large or 2 medium-sized salad bowls with several large lettuce leaves. Tear remaining lettuces into small pieces; coarsely chop escarole and chicory and add to bowl. Add radicchio. Top greens with duck, add dressing, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 12 to 14.

Lame Duck: Buy a cooked Chinese barbecued duck (About 2 ¾ lb.). Or rinse and pat dry a 5- to 6-pound duck (thawed if frozen); reserve giblets for other uses. Wrap raw bird in foil, put in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven until meat is tender enough to pull easily from bones, about 2 ½ hours. Unwrap and let cool.

Pull meat from duck, discarding skin and bones. Tear meat into fine shreds. Use at room temperature. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day.

House Dressing: Combine 1 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, ¼ cup Dijon mustard, ½ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar, ½ cup olive or salad oil, and 1 small red onion, thinly slivered.

Roll Call Rolls
Cut 12 bagels in half cross-wise. Fit, cut side up, in 2 pans, about 10 by 15 inches each. Brush lightly with about ¼ cup (1/8 lb.) melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons minced parsley. If made ahead, cover with plastic wrap and let stand up to 4 hours. Bake, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven 10 minutes. Reverse pan positions and bake until sizzling, about 10 minutes. Serves 12 to 14.

Campaign Promises
Buy amaretti cookies or another crunchy type; serve with the advice that they may crumble as readily as campaign promises.

Party Platforms
Buy shortbread cookies or make some from a favorite recipe; like party platforms, they will prove fragile.

Offer the large Medjool or other dates.

Acceptance Peaches
1 ½ cups dry red wine
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, 5 to 6 inches long
6 tablespoons lemon juice
Peaches or oranges (directions follow)
Fresh candied orange peel (directions follow)
Candied violets (optional)

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, mix wine, sugar, vanilla, and juice. Bring to a boil on high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to simmering; add peaches or oranges. Gently turn fruit in syrup to heat—about 5 minutes for whole peaches, about 10 minutes for frozen slices, about 5 minutes for oranges. Lift out fruit with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl.

Boil syrup, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup. Let cool. Pour over fruit. Also spoon orange peel with its syrup over fruit. Garnish with candied violets. Serve, or let stand up to 4 hours. Serves 12 to 14.

Peaches or oranges: Select 12 to 14 peaches (about 2 ¾-inch diameter), or use 5 pounds frozen unsweetened peach slices. Or select 12 to 14 oranges (2 ¾- to 3-in. diameter). Immerse fresh peaches in boiling water to cover for about 10 seconds, drain, then peel. Pare 4 oranges as directed for candied peel, following. Cut remaining peel and membrane from oranges.

Fresh candied orange peel: With a vegetable peeler, pare orange part only from 4 oranges (2 ¾- to 3-in. diameter). Then cut peel into very fine strands.

Put peel in a 2- to 3-quart pan and add 3 cups water; bring to boil over high heat, uncovered, then drain. Repeat this step.

Add ¼ cup sugar and 1 cup water to peel. Boil over high heat, uncovered, until syrup makes big bubbles and is almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Watch closely toward the end of cooking to avoid scorching. Stir in 2 tablespoons orange-flavor liqueur and remove from heat. Let stand until cool; if made ahead, cover and chill until next day.


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