The ideal dish for busy hosts

Published 11:50 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I have company coming this weekend and they have never been to Natchez before.

It’s the hottest month of the year and other than the persistent crape myrtles I doubt if anything else will be blooming. The Food and Wine Fest will be in full swing and it is the First Friday weekend downtown so there should be plenty to do.

Thank goodness we have so many good restaurants in our town so meals will be easy to handle.

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Of course I will have them to my house to eat one evening, and that is what has been on my mind this past week.

After eating out Friday night, Saturday lunch and night then the Sunday Jazz brunch at the Carriage House we are ending the weekend with dinner at my house on Sunday evening. So not only do I have to follow all of those great meals but I have to come up with something that will be appealing in the heat and that I can get done relatively easy since Sunday afternoon will busy.

Let’s see did I mention that I have never met this couple before, but I do know they aren’t allergic to anything.

My son will be home and he can’t stand casseroles. And I start back to school on Friday. With all that information in mind I think I have finally come up with the perfect menu to serve.

I got this recipe from a friend of mine in Jackson who used to cater, and it never fails to turn out wonderfully.

It gets its start by marinating a couple of days and then cooks for 3 to 4 hours completely unattended, which is exactly what I need in this situation.

Marinated beef brisket

5 to 6 pound beef brisket

Celery salt

1/2 cup red wine

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

Black pepper

One bottle good barbecue sauce

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Trim most of the fat off of the brisket. Place in large dish and cover with celery salt, onion, garlic and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together the wine, barbecue sauce and Worcestershire sauce and pour over the brisket. Cover tightly and marinate for two to three days.

Remove the cover turn the brisket and cover with foil and cook on 275 degrees for three to fout hours, checking at three hours for doneness and tenderness. Let cool slightly and slice very thinly against the grain. I marinate and cook my brisket in the same large Pyrex dish. I do set it out so the dish can come to room temperature before I place it in the oven.

I’m going to make a large salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to serve first. Then with the brisket I will have homemade cheese biscuits, mashed potatoes with a little parmesan and garlic, green beans and for dessert a homemade pound cake with berries and whipped cream to top it. That sounds delicious and very doable with everything else going on this weekend.

No matter how many restaurants there are in our town nothing beats serving a meal in your own home. I think it says a lot to your guests when you take the time to cook for them. If you have a favorite recipe that you serve to guests please send it to me and I’ll share it here or on my blog at www.

Christina HalL can be reached at