Entertaining is exhausting. By the time I’ve done the planning, shopping, cleaning, arranging, last-minute cooking to have everything timed just right and served hot, not only am I filling the atmosphere with my nervous fussing, I’m already on to onto the dishes and I’ve missed out on my own party. My solution? Delicious, make-ahead meals that taste out of this world.
I was able to make this entire dish, including my rice and salad, the night before my gathering.
The day of the party, with my meal cooked, tables set, I went to work a full day.
Once home, I simply popped my make-ahead pear bake into the oven an hour before my guests were to arrive. 20 minutes before, I simple tossed 1/2 a cup of water into the rice (made the night before and left on the stovetop, unrefrigerated), poured myself a glass of wine and waited for the eaters to show.
It turned out some people were arriving late but no need to panic! You can leave this dish in the oven until the cows come home. It only gets better. And the rice, once warmed, will happily stay that way on the stovetop, covered. Besides, you are going to spoon piping hot broth from the main dish onto the rice so it doesn’t have to be tongue-singeing hot.
My Goddaughter, Connie from New Zealand, inspired the recipe below whilst visiting us in Panama.
She claimed it was an easy, fail-safe dish that company just adores. And she was correct.
In her recipe, Connie used local vegetables, pears and pork chops.
I decided to change it a bit, using sausage and chicken, and to brown my meats first.
It was a good call! This was absolutely scrumptious, the sauce had some sophisticated, developed flavors, and the whole meal was an easy self-serve! So, I got to sit with my company and enjoy the conversation.
The bonus is that this dish is even better the next day and, it’s gluten-free if you omit serving with a roll!
Feel free to change this recipe up or down to suit your personal diet but whatever you decide, you must keep the pears, wine, sage and thyme. I am including a VEGETARIAN/VEGAN option below! So veggie folk, scroll down!
My peeps and I are meat-eaters, so here is what I did.
Baked Pears with Sausage & Chicken
- 3 Mild Italian Sausages, cut into halves to make 6
- 3 Hot Italian Sausages, cut into halves to make 6
- 4 Large chicken breasts, split into halves, making 8 (Or use 6-8 chicken thighs)
- Brown all the meats in 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil into a large frying pan
- Set them into a very large baking pan. I used a big lasagna pan.
- Now, into the lasagna or baking dish, and arranged evenly, add:
- 6 small new potatoes, halved
- 1 Sweet potato, chopped into large chunks
(If you dislike sweet potatoes, don’t worry. You will like them in this dish. I promise!)
- 10 or 12 chunks of peeled carrots, cut to 2″ long pieces
- 1 Large, sweet visalia onion, cut into 8 chunks
- 5 Bartlet pears, sliced into half-moon wedges. Ripe is great but semi-ripe will work.
4. Into the juices from the meats in your saucepan, sautée:
- 4 large cloves of garlic, just crushed
- 3 or 4 cups of white wine
- 1 cube of chicken stock (vegetarians, just use a vegetable flavor)
5. Pour the hot wine, garlic & broth mixture over the entire meat and pears dish.
6. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of fresh thyme and 1 tbsp. of fresh, cut sage over the entire dish
7. Salt and Pepper to taste
Bake 335 for 3 hours.
Serve over rice, with a soft dinner roll for dipping into the delicious broth, and a side of salad.
TIP: When laying an array of food for self-serve, or buffet style, arrange your table so that your guests can serve from both sides of the table. (In other words, do not have your table up against a wall.) All you have to do is add a utensil on each end of the dish. This speeds up service remarkably!
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTION. Instead of chicken broth, use your favorite vegetarian flavoring. And in place of the meat, use large chunks of dried bread. Any type of bread you like but they must dry, in the style of a traditional stuffing.
You don’t have to purchase packages of stuffing mix, but you can. I prefer cutting up chunks of a favorite bread and place them on a tray into a low oven until they are very firm. Also, this is a perfect way to make good use of older bread.
Add the dried bread chunks in after you have cut and distributed your veggies in the pan. Now, toss the bread in with all your vegetables and distribute evenly.
Now you are ready to pour your wine mixture on top. It is essential that you add the very fresh thyme and sage. You might want to use more sweet potato as well. This will be delicious. I made something similar for thanksgiving last year.