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August 27, 2014
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Planning an Outdoor Dinner Party

Hosting outdoor parties during the summer months can be successful and enjoyable by sticking to some basic tenents: make ahead, make it simple, make it flavorful, make it colorful.


In about a quart of water, combine salt, sugar and honey; stir until dissolved and pour over turkey. Add vinegar, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, mustard seeds, allspice berries and peppercorns. Add onions, celery, garlic and enough water to cover turkey. Cover pot and leave in a cool place, like the refrigerator, overnight.

About 4 hours before you want to eat, take turkey out of refrigerator. Remove it from the brine and dry off with paper towels, brushing off spices. Let it come to room temperature in a roasting pan.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for 3 ½ hours or until juices run clear when turkey is pierced with a knife. Or, grill over indirect heat on outdoor grill for about 3 hours or until juices run clear (based on 15 minutes per pound).

Let turkey rest for about 15-20 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, before carving.

Brine-Cured Pork Chips

12 servings

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup kosher salt

20 black peppercorns

10 juniper berries

5 bay leaves

1/8 cup fennel seeds

1 generous cup mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano), stems included

1 quart boiling water

3 quarts cold water

12 center-cut pork chops

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients, except water, chops and olive oil, in a large non-metal container. Add boiling water and stir to completely dissolve the sugar and salt. Stir in the cold water to cool the brine.

Put the chops into a 2-quart zip-lock bag and add the brine (have someone hold the bag open while you pour). You can also lay the chops out flat in one layer in a non-metal pan and cover them with brine. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate from 12 to 24 hours; more time means more flavor.

Heat a grill or broiler. Drain chops, discard brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Brush chops with olive oil and grill or broil for 5 to 8 minutes per side depending on thickness of the chops. When done, set aside on a platter for about 5 minutes, covered with foil.

Potato Salad with Bacon

Serves 6

3 pounds medium red boiling potatoes, scrubbed well

1 pound medium asparagus, trimmed

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 stalks celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped sweet gherkin pickles

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

7 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

11/4 teaspoon salt