I often prefer a buffet dinner to a sit-down affair if a large number of people are involved, because a buffet allows a vital flow of movement and one can pick and choose one’s interlocutors and avoid long spells with party poopers — be they button-holers with an overdeveloped sense of self importance, or the shy, quiet-as-a-mouse types whose answer to any well-meant ice-breaking question is a merciless and monosyllabic conversation killer.
As for the meal in itself, it has to be said that if a party or social gathering is a good one, the food tends to fade into the background. But even so … there are limits. And the trouble with a buffet dinner is that good food is notoriously difficult to eat standing up, using only one implement (either a fork or a spoon -knives are simply out of the question). So, the question is: what kind of good food can be served that will salvage both palate AND conversation and avoid sticky fingers?
Chicken drumsticks, for instance, are good for a picnic but not for a buffet. Curries, instead, are excellent, as are slow-cooked braised meats that are fork tender and require no knife. Foods that are bite-size in other words and that can be scooped up using either a spoon or a fork. All of these ideas came to me while I was removing the long bamboo skewer from a row of cubed lamb’s meat called ‘arrosticini’. Arrosticini hail from the region of Abbruzzo and popularly made their way into supermakets and butchers about twenty odd years ago. I don’t remember eating arrosticini as a child. Anyway, the idea is to grill them of course — hence the skewer.
Don’t they look appetising? And just think of the patience involved in cutting up the cubes of meat and sticking a skewer through them!
And there I go, spoil-sport, to un-do all that trouble and remove the skewers? why of why? I’ll tell you why. I live in an apartment and I do not have a proper grill … and using an electric grill or broiler is no good. These babies need a real wood or coal fire — an electric one just shrivels them and makes them go chewy. On the plus side, cooked in a frying pan … they take no time to cook and retain a juicy tenderness. I wanted to serve artichokes as an accompaniment.
I trimmed and cut the artichokes into thin slices and then just pan-fried them in some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I put the cooked carciofi into a lovely serving dish and used the same frying pan for the arrosticini.
The heat has to be quite a fierce one … this is not slow cooking, we want a strong flame.
Add herbs of your choice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
ee how all the juices seem to be ‘foaming’ with good taste!
Add the arrosticini to the carciofi …
Lamb and carciofi are a classic combination and the lemon goes well with both. Cut up into this size, the carciofi and the arrosticini look very appetising on the serving plate and are the perfect answer to a buffet dinner conundrum. Easy to cook, easy to serve, easy to eat … and delicious too!