Another Friday, another lunch. This week it was potluck. Not just any old themed potluck. A true family style potluck. Remember when you were at family gatherings as a kid, there would be a crockpot of sweet and sour meatballs at one side of the table, a potato salad on the other, and perhaps a mysterious noodle casserole of some sort; a perfectly balanced smattering of store-bought and homemade. With a plethora of food in front of you, you couldn’t help but to indulge in way too much of everything. Our Page One cooks did not fail to disappoint our potluck-potluck expectations of filling our bellies and our hearts.
An hour before we ate, I entered the hallway greeted by a haze of delicious smells: garlic, curry, and melting cheese (yes, interesting combo, but stick with me here!). I didn’t even know I was hungry until that moment. I bet the customers at the spa downstairs were ready to abandon their serenity for the greasiest, cheesiest pizza they could find on Commercial Street. I followed by nose to the kitchen, to find Shamus rolling out gluten-free pizza doughs from Portland Pie Company (you can pick these up at Hannaford!) topped with fresh veggies and cheese. Standing over the oven, Elise was stirring a pot bubbling with tikka masala sauce. Naan was warming in the toaster oven, while Erich’s meat-heavy stromboli was cooking gloriously in the oven.
Behind me came Eric, then Lauren, then Emmie. Like zombies moving towards the living, one by one, we wandered into the kitchen towards the smell of food. Each of us acting casual about our presence there, and inquiring about the lunch preparation: “Do you need help?,” “Oh that looks good, tell me more about it.,” and “Soooo how long do you think that is going to take?”. We were hungry, we couldn’t hide it– we were so obvious! Who could work under sensory-assaulting conditions like that anyway!
Before long our potluck-potluck was laid before us on the table. Elise’s tikka masala with warmed naan, Shamus’ pizzas (two veggie and a bacon), Erich’s meat-jalapeno stromboli, Noella’s “family-secret recipe” tater tots, leftover baked beans from Jenika’s wedding (from Famous Dave’s BBQ), fruit salad and Thai noodle salad from Black Tie Bistro courtesy of Sully, and a huge garden salad a la the Page One Marketing ladies. It certainly was a mixed bag, but as these things tend to do, it totally worked. We all gathered around the conference room table, eating so quickly and so happily that our hunger was satiated instantly. The pizza was gone in a flash- who can resist pizza, and on a Friday no less! Stromboli- gone too. The fruit salad actually devoured. We went from starving zombies to being in a food coma very quickly.
You know what ended up being a huge hit? The combination of the delicious, and most requested recipe, chicken tikka masala on top of the tater tots. Who knew?! Well, now you do. If you are ever struggling with what to bring to a potluck, just remember that Indian curries work really well with store bought tater tots. Whether it was Indian flavors on tots, fruit salad atop regular salad, or pizza with a side of baked beans, everyone found a combination that rekindled memories of potlucks past; bringing together not only a mix of food, but a mix of people for a memorable, and delicious experience.
Tater tots and childhood gotta bring it back around to the beginning of my story– right?
Words Used by Our Team to Describe the Experience:
ELISE’S CHICKEN-TIKKA MASALA
boneless skinless chicken breasts
12.5 oz jar of Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Indian simmer sauce
splash of olive oil
Cut the chicken into little pieces. One to two inch cubes or strips or however you want. Just make sure it is fairly uniform in thickness or it will cook weird.
In large skillet with high sides, warm up the olive oil and then wiggle the pan around so it is covering the whole bottom.
Cook the chicken over medium/high heat until it is all white on the outside and when you cut into the thickest piece it is very light pink on the inside.
Add the sauce. If you have a family pack of chicken you will probably need two jars. Put the temperature down to low or medium low. If you like spicier food, add some cumin, curry powder, and/or some turmeric. Careful though – turmeric stains.
Stir! Check it every once in a while to make sure it isn’t splattering all over your kitchen, and give it a stir.
When the sauce has reached a pleasing consistency, (not more than 10 minutes though or your chicken will be gross in there), take it off the heat
Serve with crispy crowns, naan or basmati rice! NOM NOM
Instead of chicken, use cubes of paneer or homemade mozzarella. You can put it into warm sauce as-is, or brown it first a bit in the pan, add the sauce on top and only simmer until the sauce has warmed up enough to be pleasant to eat – don’t want to melt the cheese.
Chickpeas are also a delicious addition, should you be so inclined. Or chunks of tomato, but only the meaty bit because the snotty bit will water down the sauce.