Has anyone seen Slate’s recent series on rules for entertaining? Slate can be a little annoying sometimes, but this series is actually full of good advice. For example — why do we put out a fresh washcloth along with a fresh towel when we’re preparing for overnight guests? Has anyone ever used that washcloth? I haven’t, and yet I always put one out for overnight guests. Guess I can stop that!
As great as the washcloth thing is, the best rule they’ve come up with so far is this: don’t show up early/don’t show up on time. I don’t do a ton of entertaining (though I would like to do more!), but whenever I have, nothing nothing nothing makes me happier than a guest who shows up at 8:15 for an 8 p.m. dinner party. Really, any time within the 8:05-8:20 window is perfect in my book. Because when I’m having people over at 8 p.m., this is what my evening looks like:
7:45 – 8:05 – run around like a decapitated chicken straightening curtains, checking toilet paper levels, putting dishes in dishwasher, setting out plates/utensils/glasses…
8:05 – 8:20 – take final look at place, begin to relax, powder nose, possibly pour self glass of wine
8:20 – wonder as to whereabouts of any not-yet-arrived guests
See how 8:15 is the perfect time to show up? Everything is perfect (as perfect as it’s going to be…), and I’ve finally begun to relax and get myself in a proper celebratory spirit. If you show up at 8:15, you’ll be greeted by a much more pleasant hostess than the hostess who would have greeted you at 7:45, you dig?
That’s why I always aim for an arrival time of at least 10 — but no more than 20 — minutes after the stated arrival time. Exceptions are obviously made for restaurant dinners (i.e., show up on time) or surprise parties (i.e., definitely show up on time), but for the most part, I stand by this rule.
And now, since you’ve waited patiently, politely, and pleasantly, let’s have some chicken.
CHICKEN YAKITORI RICE BOWL (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package steam-in-bag sugar snap peas, prepared according to package instructions
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
2. Combine next five ingredients (soy sauce through chicken broth) in small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Heat large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add chicken thighs and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.
4. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add (cooked) sugar snap peas, green onions, and rice and sauté 2 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is syrupy and chicken is heated through, stirring frequently. Serve warm.
This was very quick and tasty, though I was a little annoyed it used three different pans on the stovetop. The sauce here is fairly sweet and not spicy at all, so if you want a little extra kick, add 1-2 tsp sriracha to the sauce as it simmers. Obvi that’s what I did.