Planning a Backyard Dinner Party

Its spring, the weather is right, and the window of opportunity before the summer heat hits for outdoor entertaining is narrowing. So whatever you had planned for next weekend, cancel it and send out invitations to your closest friends and have a backyard dinner party! To pull this off successfully, you need to plan for one critical thing, a simple but outstanding menu.
In order to prepare a delicious meal that does not break the bank or take up too much of your time, consider doing something light but familiar to everyone’s taste buds. Lemon and herb grilled chicken with a lovely garden salad is a great option that you can pull off without too much difficulty. Here is your ingredient list for a party of 4:

  • 1 whole chicken. Ask the butcher at the grocery store meat counter to butterfly the chicken so that it remains whole and in one piece but is split down the back and spread across the grill.
  • 1 cup of chopped parsley.
  • 1 head of chopped garlic.
  • Juice of two lemons per chicken.
  • 1 cup melted butter.
  • One large package of washed mixed greens.
  • One pint of cherry tomatoes.
  • One cup of candied pecans.
  • One red onion sliced very thinly.
  • ½ cup of red wine vinegar.
  • 1 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dijon mustard.
  • ¾ teaspoon salt.
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper.

Mix together the chopped parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and melted butter with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Rub this mixture over the outside of the chicken and let it sit on a plate in your refrigerator while the grill heats up. If you are using charcoal, spread the hot coals to both sides of the grill so that you have a hot area in the middle of the grill without any direct flame underneath it. If you are using a propane grill, turn the burners on the outsides all the way up and leave the middle off. When the grill is ready place the chicken, breasts facing up, in the middle of the grill and close the lid for 20 minutes. Flip the chicken and return to the grill for another 15 minutes with the lid on, until a meat thermometer shows it to have reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the grill and let it rest while you prepare the salad.
Put olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and a handful of mixed greens into a blender and mix until you achieve a well-blended dressing. Pour the dressing into a salad bowl and toss with the tomatoes, onions, and pecans.
Serve the chicken while hot and the salad freshly tossed. Enjoy with a light pinot noir or a Napa Valley rose to compliment the citrusy crisp components of the meal. For dessert, buy a little vanilla ice cream to clean the pallet and help finish the wine. Now that we’ve helped establish the menu and the mood in your backyard, it’s up to you to enjoy!

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