Fiesta Time! A Start-to-Finish Menu for Your Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta Time! A Start-to-Finish Menu for Your Cinco de Mayo

Emma Christensen
May 2, 2013

It's Cinco de Mayo this weekend! The perfect reason to grab a bunch of friends, open the windows (hopefully...), and dig into some good food and drink. If you haven't started planning your fiesta yet, it's not too late: here's a menu plan that will help you put together everything from the guacamole to the margaritas.

Hot & Smoky Roasted Poblano Pepper Salsa

The Scene:

The more the merrier when celebrating Cinco de Mayo! If weather permits, I feel that the party should spill from kitchen into backyard or balcony — always a good sign. The menu feeds a crowd, so gather up everyone you know, hang the streamers from the ceiling, and make sure the beer is cold.

Roasted Goat Tacos (or Pork!) (or Beef!)

Making It Happen:

This is a menu to feed a large party of 10 or more and keep everyone happy. If your gathering is smaller, definitely cut one or two of the recipes — tailor the menu to fit the kind of party you want to throw!

Here's what to make a day or two ahead: the empanadas, the salsa, the roasted goat (or other meat) for the tacos, the cookies, and the paletas. Once you've shaped the empanadas, freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan and transfer to a freezer container once solid. You can bake these directly from the freezer on the day of the party, adding a minute or two to the cooking time. (If making your own pie crust feels daunting or too time-consuming, I give you complete permission to use store-bought!). Everything else and can be completely prepared ahead and kept until ready to serve.

Here's what to make the morning of the party: the enchiladas. This is your vegetarian main dish, and it can be assembled the day of your party, covered, and kept refrigerated until time to bake.

Here's what to make right before the party: guacamole and the drinks. The guacamole will brown if left out too long, though you can buy yourself some time by spritzing the top with lemon juice and pressing plastic wrap right up against the surface. The micheladas don't require much prep work of their own — just make sure all the fixings are set out and the beer is cold in the fridge. The margaritas can be made in one big batch — multiply the ingredients by the number of drinks you want to make and combine in a pitcher. Chill and serve with a bowl of ice nearby.

Bringing it all together: I feel like this is a holiday where you have permission to get a little campy. I love hanging streamers from the walls, stringing up a pinata, and bringing out my brightest, most colorful linens. Find a good Pandora station with good mariachi music to play in the background.

With a big crowd like this, it's good to set up a few stations of food. Make sure the guac and salsa are set out with chips when the first guests arrive, and get a batch of empanadas baking. While the appetizers are being nibbled, warm up the meat for the tacos and bake the enchiladas. Set these up on the kitchen counter with tortillas and other taco fixings so guests can help themselves when they're hungry. 

After that, it's all about making sure the pitcher of margarita stays full and handing out the paletas when it's time for something sweet!

What are you serving at your Cinco de Mayo party?

(Images: see linked posts)

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