Feeding a crowd is an overwhelming proposition that I find myself in so very often. I maintain composure and espouse a thoroughly relaxed attitude until about an hour before party time. Then it all comes crumbling down and I turn into the queen diva of the kitchen, bossing around my dogs and anyone with thumbs to assist me.
Whether you love cooking or hate it, I really think that a burger buffet is the way to go when you host a party. If you want to spend your time in the kitchen, craft up gourmet burgers and home-made sauces. If you want to sip cocktails, outsource the grilling (at my parties, this means sending BF outside with a spatula and a cold beer) and chat with your friends.
I had the privilege of co-hosting a shower over the weekend with three friends in a city several hours away. To keep it simple, we served a variety of burgers: chicken, caramelized onion, and Swiss, bacon and cheddar burgers, and veggie burgers.
We had ciabatta, sesame, multi-grain, and plain-old-white buns to choose from, plus different spreads, standard condiments, sauteed mushrooms, and bacon. I also had guacamole, Chimichurri, blue cheese, and sun-dried tomato spreads ready to go for more unique toppings, as well as a pimento cheese and bacon creation that I am not ready to own up to perfecting just yet (why oh why can’t my contribution to the culinary world be so redneck?).
For bonus points, include different combination ideas on a sign (“Greek burger = chicken burger + feta + cucumber”) to spark creativity. If your guests are super adventurous, this might be a time to downsize the patties to slider-sized so they can try many varieties.
This was low maintenance (especially as I wasn’t even grilling) and kept the focus of the party on our gorgeous bride-to-be. There’s nothing worse than spending the whole party fussing or in the kitchen. The other bonus with a burger bar is that you can minimize prep time on side dishes because most classic burger sides are served chilled. I made sweet potato salad, a fresh green bean-potato salad, and Asian-style coleslaw, all three of which can be made the night before and just poured into bowls to serve. The foods were impressive and I got to spend the party catching up with my friends instead of plating.
This is a burger recipe that I didn’t serve at the shower this weekend, but that I have been wanting to share. We thought the cream cheese and Ranch combination was pretty outrageous. It was also extremely easy.
Creamy Ranch Burgers
Makes Four Burgers
You will need:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 tbsp. Ranch spice blend (the dry powder to be used in salad dressings, etc.)
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. hot sauce (adjust to taste)
- 8 oz. chive and herb cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp. each salt, pepper, and dried parsley
- Four sesame buns
- Suggested toppings: sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, and pickled hot peppers
- Preheat grill to high.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef and all other ingredients (except the buns, of course)
- Gently form meat into four balls, then lightly press into evenly-sized patties
- Grill on high heat, undisturbed, for four to five minutes (until there are grill marks on the bottom), then flip and cook for four to five more minutes.
- Top burgers with cheese (if desired) during the last two minutes of cooking to let it soften.
- Serve topped with bacon and peppers on sesame buns.