9 Tips for Hosting a Fall Seafood Bake (Slideshow)
Start with a Strong Base
When it comes to making seafood shine in any season, it is all about the bouillon/boiling liquid. "What you boil your food in is as important as the ingredients you buy," chef Pryor advises.
Get the Gear
Before you get started, make sure you are armed with the right gear. Chef Pryor recommends using a turkey fryer since it is inexpensive and easy to use. "A turkey fryer is basically a propane burner, a large pot and a large strainer that comes in a set," he explains. "It is very useful if you have an outdoor-space, ideally a flat stone surface away from any structures that you want to preserve." You also want to be sure you have all of the tools needed for guests to enjoy their food, like claw crackers and picks to get all of the delicious meat out of the shell.
Avoid the Supermarket
When getting ready to stock up for your bake, Pryor says that the first stop should not be a supermarket. "Lobsters and clams should be purchased alive and scallops and shrimp should be very fresh," he instructs. "Your local fish seller will know what is best."
Stay in Season
To avoid falling in a summery pitfall, go for the heartier fall vegetables to add to your pot. Pryor suggests that new potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, turnips, and late corn are all perfect for a fall boil. "For salads and desserts, keep an eye for later greens such as radicchio and endive and especially utilize pears and apples for desserts," he says.
Keep a Watchful Eye
Another reason a seafood bake is great for a party is that it is very easy to make. Though it may be tempting to wander around your fall party, you are in danger of overcooking by letting the food boil too long. "A good rule of thumb is that when the lobsters have boiled for 10 minutes, the rest of your boil should be ready," says Pryor.
Offer Warming Sides
Since it is fall and the weather will inevitably get nippy at night, you want to warm your guests' stomachs with rich, hot sides. For a seafood bake, Pryor suggests you turn to a chowder or a squash bisque to stay in season. "Serve [it] steaming in mugs while your guests huddle together for a nice homey touch," he says.
Do the Dip
To appeal to your guests' variety of palates, chef Pryor suggests that you make up some sauces for dipping. "I like to serve a spicy mayonnaise, a homemade tartar sauce, and drawn butter with garlic," he says.
Click here for chef Pryor's Spicy Aioli Recipe.
Serve a Warm Dessert.
If you are looking to really wow your guests, stick with a theme and serve a warm dessert. This will keep you seasonal and satisfied. "I love to use apples or pears, poached with a warm syrup and a dollop of cream," says chef Pryor.
Top It Off
Of course, you have to have a libation to pull it all together. "One of my favorite fall moments is the arrival of local, sweet, and delicious apple cider," shares chef Pryor. This is perfect for both kids and adults as you can serve it with a simple blend of spices and make a separate spiked batch for the adults.