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5 Tips: Holiday Entertaining

We like playing the host, but we have to admit that throwing a holiday party still scares us a little. To make the season less stressful, we got expert advice, tips and recipes from bon vivant and celebrity chef Rick Bayless. Enjoy!

Serve Guacamole:

“I am in love with this Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole with Crunchy Chicharrón,” Bayless says of the recipe in his new book, Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks. “Getting a bit of the hot sauce and queso añejo in every bite is my favorite part.” Plus, you can prepare it ahead of time.


Stock Up:

Be sure you have plenty of cider for your guests. “Hard ciders are perfect for holiday entertaining,” Bayless says. And “always have bitters on hand and some of your favorite aperitifs: Mine are Aperol and Cocchi Americano.”

Fix Cocktails by the Pitcher:

“The Sparkling Ginger Margarita is perfect and my go-to drink,” Bayless says. “I love the mixture of the ginger syrup and the sparkling wine—it is such a celebration.” Even better: It makes enough for eight people, and the prep work and muddling can be done hours in advance.

Go Outside the Box:

Set the holiday mood by pouring some exotic spirits. Bayless recommends tracking down a pine liqueur (Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur is a fine one). “It’s like pine trees—the aromatics of it,” the chef says. “I know it sounds crazy, but it is crazy good.”

Work Ahead:

“I get anything and everything done prior that I can,” Bayless says. But don’t forget about styling your dishes and drinks. “Creating interesting garnishes—all about presentation—that tends to reel them in.”

Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole with Crunchy Chicharrón

Contributed by Rick Bayless

  • 4 Medium tomatillos (about 8 ounces total), husked and rinsed
  • 3 Ripe medium-large avocados
  • Half a medium white onion, chopped into pieces no larger than .25 inch
  • 2 tbsp Fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Chopped fresh cilantro
  • About 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 (1-ounce) piece of crispy chicharrón (fried pork rind, preferably freshly made from a Mexican grocery store), chopped into .25-inch pieces
  • About 2 tbsp Mexican hot sauce (such asTamazula, Valentina or Búfalo)
  • About .25 cup grated Mexican aged cheese (queso añejo) or other garnishing cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Preheat the broiler. Roast the tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet about 4 inches below the broiler until soft, blotchy and black on one side, about 6 minutes. Flip and roast the other side. Let cool and scoop onto a cutting board, leaving most of the juice behind (tomatillos will have softened until almost falling apart). Chop into rough .25-inch pieces and scrape into a large bowl. Remove the pits from the avocados and scoop the flesh into the bowl. Coarsely mash the mixture with a potato masher, large fork of the back of a spoon. Rinse the onion under cold water, drain and add to the bowl with the lime juice and cilantro. Stir to combine, taste and season to taste with salt. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface until ready to serve. To serve, sprinkle the guacamole with the chopped chicharrón, drizzle with the hot sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Sparkling Ginger Margarita

Contributed by Rick Bayless

  • 16 slices Ginger the thickness of a quarter (no need to peel), coarsely chopped
  • 4 fresh Kaffir lime leaves, cut in half where the leaf is indented (optional)
  • 12 oz 100-percent-blue-agave blanco tequila
  • 4 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 4 oz Orange Curaçao or other triple sec
  • 2 oz Ginger Agave Syrup*
  • 1 cup Sparkling wine, such as a cava from Spain
  • Garnish: Kaffir lime leaf
  • Glass: Martini

In a pitcher, muddle the ginger and kaffir lime leaves. Add all the remaining ingredients except the sparkling wine. Stir, cover and refrigerate until chilled. To serve, add about 5 ounces of the tequila mixture to a shaker and fill halfway with ice. Shake, and strain into 2 Martini glasses. Top each with sparkling wine and float a piece a bruised kaffir lime leaf on top.

*Ginger Agave Syrup
  • .5 cup Agave nectar or rich simple syrup (two parts sugar, one part water)
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • .25 cup (about 1 ounce) Finely chopped ginger (no need to peel)

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture reaches a simmer, cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain, and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a month or more.
(Photo courtesy Paul Elledge. Recipes reprinted from Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks by Rick Bayless with Deanna Groen Bayless. Copyright © 2012 by Rick Bayless and Deanna Groen Bayless. Used with the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Series & Type: Entertaining Trends5 Tips

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