When you’re invited to a holiday party, there’s nothing more shameful than being the guest whose potluck offering is overlooked by everyone else, and having to pack up the sad, uneaten food at the end of the night. Maybe we’re being a little dramatic there, but wouldn’t you rather bring the hottest item at the party and have everyone beg you for your secret recipe? Yeah, that’s what we thought.
Since we are desperate to impress at the next holiday bash, we asked celebrity chef Chuck Hughes while he was in Toronto promoting his holiday collab with Puseteri’s what kind of fare an Iron Chef would bring to a party this time of year. He offered up three suggestions for winning the dinner party — um, we mean, treating your friends/family/co-workers to something tasty.
Foie Gras Torchon
Now, foie gras is a little controversial because of potentially unethical feeding practices (though others argue it’s not actually unethical), but if you know your crowd won’t mind, this is Chuck’s first pick for a relatively easy appetizer. Foie gras torchon is duck liver seasoned and dried in a tea-towel until it turns into a pâté-like appetizer. It looks super fancy and takes a little bit of foresight, but it’s not difficult to make.
“This would be great because you would make it yourself and you do the whole process and you would bring it and people would be like ‘OMG this is so fancy and complicated.’ But really it’s not,” Chuck said.
“And as a gift, you bring somebody a little piece of it, you can keep it in the freezer, you can do a whole bunch of things with it,” he continued. “That’s like a fun, high-end gift and thing that you can bring and give a piece and eat a piece at the same party which I always like when you give something that leads to something else.”
Check out this recipe if you’re interested in giving it a try.
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Hot Maple Nuts
If you’re looking for something even simpler, Chuck suggests a quickie like candied nuts. He sells a giftset that includes all the ingredients to make his hot maple nuts as well as the recipe (which you can also view online under the images). The snack is basically assorted nuts glazed in maple syrup and hot pepper spread and finished with salt — a sweet, spicy, salty masterpiece. Chuck says that the best part is you can make it for the party and also give out the ingredients as a cute gift.
“So the thing is, you make that and then you give as a gift the ingredients to make it,” he said. “So it’s kind of like you get to taste it – ‘like oh my God this is so good’ – and then here you go.”
Smoked Sturgeon Flatbread
Chuck’s final suggestion is a little out of the ordinary, but we’re willing to trust him. He suggests throwing together his easy-to-assemble smoked sturgeon flatbread for something unique and totally delicious. You could even pack up the ingredients and assemble it at your destination for some added flare and freshness.
“It’s such a unique thing – smoked sturgeon — you know, people don’t know about it,” Chuck said. “It’s from New Brunswick, it’s a local product. It’s really well made, it’s super sustainable. Every step of the way, it’s just a great product.”