Five catering tips for hosting an election night party

Take inspiration from the 1976 Australian film classic Don's Party this election night.
Take inspiration from the 1976 Australian film classic Don's Party this election night. Photo: Fairfax Archive

Do you have a handful of mates popping over on Saturday for low-key pizza and another round of "how old must Antony Green be now anyway"? Or are you planning the kind of election night shindig that will make Don's Party look like a pot-luck for the Australian Christians? Whatever your plans for May 21, here are five tips to spike that guest approval.

Party like it's 1969

Speaking of Don's Party (David Williamson's play and subsequent movie set at a barbecue hosted by couple Don and Kath on election night 1969) consider theming your knees-up around the same food and booze Australia was enjoying in the year of Gorton v Gough.

1960s-style "spicy sausages with pineapple and rice" from the Fairfax cookery pages.
1960s-style "spicy sausages with pineapple and rice" from the Fairfax cookery pages. Photo: Fairfax Media

Burnt steaks doused in tomato sauce are the main event in Don's backyard, but recipes published in 1969 editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age provide more colourful inspiration.

Fairfax cookery pages at the time featured banana ice-cream, oysters mornay, pickled pork pies, pears with kirsch, mushroom tuna salad, Hawaiian sausages, bologna bites, fish casserole with gherkins (don't eat it all at once, kids!), grape jelly, frankfurts and cheese, deviled kidneys, Swedish pancakes, and tinned pineapple on pretty much everything.

The Margaret Fulton Cookbook was originally published in 1969, so anything in the classic collection would be ideal too. Quiche lorraine, say or pumpkin scones. Fried chook is also beaut choice – Australia's first Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in 1968 and we became fingerlickin' obsessed with the stuff overnight.

A limited run of Resch's Dinner Ale was released in April.
A limited run of Resch's Dinner Ale was released in April. Photo: Supplied

Drinks wise, don't be like forgetful Don, and remember to pick up the ginger ale to serve vermouth with dry on arrival. Blue Nun fruity white remains in short supply except for an insipid non-alcoholic version, however Reschs Dinner Ale – the same beer Don buys in the 1976 film – returned to select bottle shops in April after being discontinued last century. The can design is based on DA's late-sixties look too.

Keep a box of prawn toast in the freezer

Late at night, when guests are three sheets to the wind, a box of supermarket prawn toast will be more popular than tax relief on Tim Tams. Everyone loves deep-fried white bread laced with low-quality prawns, perfect for soaking up booze and significantly less messy than the flaky pastry of a feta and cheese triangle.

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Meanwhile, frozen "yum cha" entertainer packs are always a hit – the ones featuring a buffet of money bags and cocktail samosas. Anything heavy on flavour enhancers and easy to whack in the oven or oil will go down a treat, to be honest, but if you really want to impress, here's a prawn toast riff you can make yourself.

Serve appropriately themed snacks

It's not a proper election party without at least three pun-based snacks. Top marks to Good Food's national editor Ardyn Bernoth who is rocking Bananaby Fritters this weekend, plus Mini Clive Chicken Palmers and Greek goddess dip with cucumber and celery – or, if you will, a Greens Party.

Prawn toast will be more popular than tax relief on Tim Tams.
Prawn toast will be more popular than tax relief on Tim Tams. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Bill Shortbread and Jacqui Lamingtons are always a hit, but you might also consider: Greg Bundt Cake, Peter Mutton Sausage Rolls, Pork-Barrelling Buns, Two-Party-Preferred Pies, Press Club Sandwiches, Canberra Bubble and Squeak, Michaelia Hash Browns, Josh Fryden-Burgers, Mark Butter Chicken, Madeleine Kingfish Crudo, Alan Fudge and Dave Shawarma.

Celebrate with cheap fizz

Keep the Cristal in the cupboard. If your mob wins you'll want something to spray around the room like Brockie taking Bathurst. Lose and it's better to drown your sorrows with Yellowtail and too much cabanossi. Splash out on nice cheese instead.

Get political in the kitchen

Did you know Australia's least dynamic duo, Alan Jones and Mark Latham, released a cookbook in 2018? It's as awful as you would expect, but it could also be fun to track down and level-up your political theming. Plus – and I can't believe I'm writing this – Jones' sultana scone recipe doesn't look half bad.

Jones and Latham's Conversations in the Kitchen: Good Food, Great Friends didn't quite reach the top of the bestseller list, so there should be plenty of copies left in bargain bins around the country. Harder to find is Don Dunstan's Cookbook published in 1976. Anyone blessed with a copy can revel in the South Australian Renaissance man and premier's recipes for parsi eggs and rhubarb fool.