You need pickled bologna at your next party. Top quality bologna with sleeves of crisp Saltines.
Sally Quinn’s, The Party, A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining (1997) is a fun book. The reporter who covered the Washington D.C., political and social scene and the wife of Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post tells all about the epic parties she and Ben hosted and attended with the most interesting A-listers. Sally Quinn is a matter-of-fact, hard-working partier.
One thing she emphasizes is that all parties, whether fancy or casual, are a group of individuals who want to have a good time, and who need some leadership. Every memorable party has a savvy, confident host at the helm. And that person is you.
She had me at the first paragraph:
“There are a thousand reasons to have a party or to entertain, but as far as I’m concerned there is only one legitimate one. And that is to have a good time. If you don’t care about having a good time, then have a meeting.”
I always thank Sally the morning after a great party when I’m cleaning up and watching R.B. act out the funny moments, and again later when happy “thank you” emails appear.
Sally reminds us that anxiety is catching. If the host is anxious, so are the guests. Keep anxiety at bay by doing what you do well, not what you think will impress others.
Another is to keep the party tight. A smaller, crowded room keeps things lively. And turn up the thermostat to get the guys to take off their coats. Sally wants to be sure everyone is relaxed and comfortable.
What to serve? Keep it simple.
Sally shares her mother’s go-to recipe for untrendy Johnny Mazetti, a big dump-in-the-cans casserole mixed with ground beef and lots of cheese that she has successfully served to very fancy people. All you need is crusty bread and a salad. The homestyle feel of this dish puts all at ease.
Our not-yet-trendy pickled bologna at a party recently served a similar effect and I thought to myself…Sally Quinn, you’d be having a great time right now. The pickled bologna with fresh crackers was a happening, just like Johnny Mazetti. Here’s why.
1. It’s so untrendy it loosens things up even before the cocktail has had a chance to work.
2. It can run with both goat cheese and pimiento cheese crowds, so long as you serve it with confidence.
3. It suddenly has people laughing and telling jokes and pretty good ones.
4. It’s absolutely delicious.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE……………..Here’s our Chicago dog pickled bologna recipe which we love even more.
- 1 1/2 cups distilled or cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 medium onion, cut into very thin slices
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 pound ring bologna, thinly sliced (we used Boar's Head Ring Bologna)
Combine all the ingredients in a covered container so that the bologna is submerged in the liquid. Refrigerate at least one day.
Serve with saltine crackers. Makes 10 servings.
Have fun with the spice mix. If you don't have pickling spices, throw in some whole mustard seed, whole black peppercorns, whole allspice, celery seed. No exact science. Add more crushed red pepper, or some hot pepper sauce like Tabasco, if you need more heat.