Host a Potluck

Potluck dinners are fun, fabulous ways to entertain and save money.

Entertaining Ideas

Host a Potluck

A fun, fabulous way to entertain

Francine Segan, Betty Food+Home Editor

potluck dinner partyNY State Senator Steve Saland, and his lovely wife, jewelry designer Linda Saland, host a potluck supper every year at their home.

“Steve, being so proper, was, at first, appalled asking people to bring food to our home, especially our chef friends from the nearby professional cooking school, CIA. As it  turned out, everyone was thrilled and flattered to be asked to bring a dish,” explains Linda.

This year I was lucky enough to be invited and had a blast. Everyone did. Not only are the Salands exceptionally gracious hosts, but the potluck itself contributed to the fun. Guests loved sharing favorite recipes. Talking about cooking immediately gave us something to chat about and made strangers feel like family.

linda saland's potluck dinner partyOne of the highlights of the potluck was a home-cured salmon made by James Lack, a former state senator who is now a NY State judge. Judge Jim’s favorite lunch is smoked salmon so he decided to try making his own cured salmon. Turns out, it’s easy!! He accompanied the salmon with homemade bread and his own homemade cheese. The cheese too is easy to make. Jim heats 1/2 gallon of whole milk with 1 pint of buttermilk to just below boiling (170 degrees F on a candy thermometer) for 1/2 hour. Then he skims off the curds, the little cheese lumps which form, and blends them in a food processor with a little salt and chopped scallions. The left over liquid, the whey, he uses to make delicious pancakes, cakes or even icing.

Another delicious dish at the Salands’ potluck was a buffalo wing dip made by salon owner, Stephanie Calabrese. It’s like buffalo wings without the bones and mess. Chunks of tender chicken smothered in cheesy creamy sauce, which you can scoop up with chips or celery sticks. Mmmm.

Potlucks are a fabulous way to entertain. For everyone. As a host you don’t have to do all the work so you’re calm and in a great mood, and as a guest you get to share one of your favorite recipes and try all sorts of different foods that everyone else contributes. So, call a few friends and invite them over. When they ask, “What should I bring?” Tell them!!

Judge Jim’s Cured Salmon
Serves 12 or more

judge jim's cured salmonsIngredients:

1 salmon fillet, about 2 pounds
3/4 cup Kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Black pepper
Bunch fresh dill


1. Put the salmon, skin side down, onto a large sheet of plastic wrap set into a roasting pan.

2. Combine the salt, sugar and pepper, to taste in a bowl. Rub the salmon on both sides with the mixture. Lay the dill over the salmon and carefully seal the fish tightly in the plastic wrap.

3. Put a weight, like a piece of granite counter top or brick covered in aluminum foil, over the fish and refrigerate between 24 to 72 hours. Taste to be sure it is cured enough for your liking. Judge Jim prefers a 48-hour curing.

4. Rinse off the salt under running water and pat dry. Either serve immediately or refrigerate. The salmon will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Stephanie’s Buffalo Chicken Dip
Serves 12 or more


2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)
3/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup blue cheese dressing
2 8oz. packages block cream cheese-softened
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla, corn or your favorite chips


1. Sauté chicken in a non-stick pan until cooked through.

2. Add in the hot sauce, dressing, cream cheese and half the cheddar cheese to the chicken and simmer until well combined.

3. Place mixture in casserole dish and top with the remaining cheddar cheese.

4. Bake at 350 until bubbly. Serve with your favorite chips.

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