When you roast a whole pig, side dishes may seem to get lost by the main attraction. But don’t ignore the side dishes even thought they may seem to get overwhelmed by the spectacle of the roasted pig. If you can’t — or don’t want to — deal with the extra dishes that are expected, get some of your guests to bring their favorite side dish.
If you do that, I recommend coordinating it in advance by asking certain people to bring specific dishes and tell them how many servings. I was at a wonderful whole pig roast recently in which everyone was encouraged to bring a side dish. I counted 15 dishes of baked beans, at least seven coleslaw, and over 25 store-bought cakes/pies. Much of that food was not eaten while other special dishes were wiped out by the first few people in line.
If you are going to have people bring sides, here are some tips:
- If you know someone with a specialty, ask them if they would like to bring enough for 24 servings (more or less depending on your expected crowd).
- This can evolve into a wonderful thing because someone bringing their star salad will likely know someone else coming who has another delicious dish they’ve seen at an event.
- It is better not to ask in general for folks to bring something or you will end up with lots of baked beans or Jell-O molds or such.
- If you do not know who might have specialties to bring, ask guests to let you know in advance what they are bringing. As the event gets closer, you will likely notice a pattern. If everyone is bringing desserts, for example, when the next person asks what they can bring (and some will ask), let them know that you could use a big green salad or watermelon or whatever you would like more of.
- Don’t get too stressed over who is bringing what side dish. I grew up in the Southern US where it was called “Pot Luck”, and for a good reason. It is a haphazard bit of luck to see what shows up. A tiny bit of planning combined by accepting the random pots of goodies that appear can make a fun feast.
- Try to have lots of extra serving utensils and places to put the dishes that are brought in.
- Plan in advance what dishes will go on which table.
- Get more ideas from my article on how I handle side dishes at my pig roasts.