Your Election Night Menu Should Be All About Comfort

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The night of Tuesday, November 3 is expected to be stressful for most Americans. We'll be huddled together on our couches, watching as the results of the 2020 presidential election roll in. The evening will undoubtedly be a turning point in the history of our country, and we'll be waiting with bated breath to find out which direction we will be heading in. For many, election night will certainly involve coming together with the friends and family that make up our pods, and though this particular social gathering will likely feature anxiety and fear, there's no reason it can't also include some of the more pleasant aspects of entertaining. Jade Verette, a Brooklyn-based chef, mother, and podcast personality, for example, says she will be serving up a whole menu of comfort food on election night.  
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Chef Jade hosted pop-up dinner parties and catering events around the tri-state area. Stay-at-home orders and other restrictions prompted her to transition to making cooking content and sharing it on her Patreon page. Verette refers to her weekly videos as "culinary experiences for the soul." So when menu planning for a night where we'll definitely be desperate for something soothing, she's the perfect chef to turn to for guidance.
Verette says that on election night, she will be gathering with what she's dubbed her "quaran-team," a group of two or three close friends who have gotten together for socializing and support throughout the pandemic. "We'll watch the results together so we can comfort one another," the chef says. One way they'll be doing that is with food. "I think comfort food is really important no matter which direction things go." For Verette, that means Korean fried chicken. "It makes everybody happy. If things go well, then we can celebrate with Korean fried chicken. If things go south, then we will comfort one another over Korean fried chicken."
In addition to being both celebratory and potentially calming, this particular dish also needs to be prepped ahead of time, which means you can redirect your anxious energy in the time leading up to election night towards making the meal. Then, night of, you and your pod can concentrate on enjoying it. "You want to marinate it in gochujang sauce. Get it all good and flavor it up," the chef explains.
With the soulful main dish, Chef Jade recommends serving something equally soothing, like French fries. "You can't have Korean fried chicken without a good seasoned fry." Then, she suggests, balance all that out with a fresh salad containing goat cheese and seasonal ingredients like pomegranates and pumpkin seeds. And, of course, no gathering would be complete without drinks. For election night, Verette is all about strong tequila cocktails. Specifically, she recommends a recipe she recently created using La Gritona, a woman-owned tequila brand; orange blossom water; fresh pomegranate syrup; lime; and ginger beer. According to the chef, this drink has something for everyone — "something refreshing, something fall, something comforting, and something strong."
As with the chicken dish, you can also do some ahead-of-time prep for each of those additional menu items. "Get your fries cut up. I also recommend soaking them in cold water before you actually fry them. Letting them sit in that cold water removes some of that starch, which helps crisp them up even more," Chef Jade says. "Get your salad together without the vinegarette, and put that away in the fridge. You can pre-batch your cocktail and then just top them off with the ginger beer or you could take all the ingredients and make a punch to make it easy on yourself instead of doing by glass cocktail. With those ahead-of-time steps, you and your pod can actually sit together and enjoy each other's company and be there for the reason that you're there in the first place."
All of these menu items sound delicious, but for some of us, nothing can bring comfort quite like dessert. Chef Jade's favorite consolatory sweet is a batch of brownies. "I always have everything in my house to make brownies. If I'm ever in a bad mood, ever having a craving, no matter what the case is, brownies are one of the easiest, most delicious dessert to make," she says. "You can make a good decadent, gooey brownie anytime as long as you keep a can of cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and your other essentials around. Brownies are the perfect dessert because they don't take long. You can make them to your preference of fudginess, thickness, thinness. Brownies with some ice cream, it's a go-to."
Even if you don't choose to make all of these specific elements for your election night gathering, following Chef Jade's advice and picking menu items that first and foremost provide comfort will be beneficial. "My theme here is things that make us feel better," she says. "Have a simple menu, but have it also be something that makes people feel good and helps us to get through this time."

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