here is no better way to enjoy the lazy days of summer than to plan a picnic with your family or friends. Picnics are casual, outdoor meals, which are a breeze to prepare for if you keep a few things to keep in mind when selecting a menu. First of all, picnic food is best at room temperature. Don’t complicate things with dishes that need to either stay cold or hot. Choose food that you don’t have to worry about for a couple hours. Also, since picnics usually involve transporting the meal to another location, focus on foods that are easily packed - nothing too saucy or delicate. It’s a good idea to keep clean-up in mind, as well. The fewer dishes and flatware, the better. But most of all, get creative. Don’t feel like you have to serve the same old picnic food year after year. Tap into some other cultures for your picnic inspiration.
The Spanish are really on to something with their tapas – lots of little bites to share with friends. For a tapas inspired picnic, start with a Chorizo Tortilla, a Spanish omelet filled with spicy chorizo sausage. Let it cool completely before packing it, and serve it at room temperature. For another savory bite, sauté a mix of organic mushrooms in some olive oil and garlic and finish with a splash of sherry. Serve on small slices of toasted bread. Pick up a few extra things to complete the picnic, like Spanish almonds, a mix of olives, and a generous wedge of Manchego cheese. Make a batch of fruity sangria to turn the picnic into a party.
Perhaps the easiest picnic to throw together is inspired by the French. Arrange a casual, yet elegant outdoor meal by assembling a simple charcuterie platter with the bold flavors of smoked or cured meats. Start with the salty punch of Jambon de Bayonne, a French Prosciutto that is a must for any charcuterie platter. Also include Dry-Cured Saucisson Sec, a, French salami that will give your spread a peppery kick. The tartness of tiny cornichons is a nice addition as it pairs well with the meats. And put your platter over the top with Mousse of Duck Foie Gras, which has the creamy, savory flavor of 100% foie gras. Round out your meal with any soft creamy French cheese, a baguette or two, and a bottle of chilled French rosé wine.
Of course, you can always keep it classic with some American picnic favorites. For a more traditional, family friendly affair, build your meal around Thomas Keller’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, where brining the meat will make this the juiciest fried chicken you’ll ever eat. If you’re feeding a crowd, why not fire up the grill and cook a variety of hot dogs and sausages, like our Lamb Merguez Sausage, Chicken Apple Sausage, or Wild Boar Sausage. On the side, throw together a simple potato salad with boiled Yukon Gold Potatoes, mayonnaise, green onions, and crumbled Uncured Hickory Smoked Bacon. Serve it all with cold beer and fresh lemonade for the kids.
Whatever style of picnic you desire, don’t forget to pack a big blanket for spreading out the feast.