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Cooking for a crowd


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Any ideas are appreciated. I'm doing some 'bulk' cooking for a crowd of about 225 people, several days in a row. I'm looking for tasty budget conscious dishes that are not all about pasta.


Edited by SushiCat (log)
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Big slow roasted shoulders of pork (huge glazed hams. Chinese redcooked ham) etc.... Big chunks of meat always look impressive and pork shoulder is cheap no?

Indian food? Much of the stuff is cooked in big batches and actually improves with sitting (or freezing). My fantasy is to one day sit in a big tub of butter chicken and eat my way out ala Homer Simpson. Hmmmm butter chicken.....

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Although Tammy is only cooking Dinner for 40, she does a great job of letting us know what works, what doesn't, how much food fed how many people, how long the prep took, and how successful the meals were. Give her topic a perusal.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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good questions - should have provided that. I have a six burner electric stove and a small size commercial oven at my disposal. I can't really give exact budget numbers, but basically looking for less (as opposed to more) expensive items. There will be no fois gras, nor matsutake mushrooms.

I can use and have decent prices on lots of fresh local produce and it will be corn on the cob season, so I'll incorporate that.

Last time I cooked in this particular kitchen we made some delicious things in the ovens, I'm just used to my home oven, so it is always fun to bake multiple trays of things in a hurry and have it work out.

Other resources, the basics, pots/pans/knives bowls, a couple of food processors etc.

Hmmn, butter chicken :wub: and thanks Snowangel, I was looking for that link!

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Reading the title, I immediately thought Paella, which I love to make for a crowd. However, when I saw your number of 225, I realized it would be difficult (not to mention expensive) to do one batch of Paella for that size. But what about something with rice, like Jambalaya or Low-Country Chicken Bog. You could make a whole mess of it in a rather large pot without too much trouble.

Edited by keeperrox (log)
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how bout some brisket any style you like cooked really slow. corn. slaw. potato salad. or mashed.

taco bar?

I second pork shoulders or picnic hams slow roasted

can you get short ribs cheap?

fried chicken?

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Quiche or frittata ....all you need is one big batch of the custard and can drop handfulls of different fillings into the pans and pour -n bake...I did 5 different quiches for a funeral luncheon and freaked everyone out. If they only knew how easy it was :smile:


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers


Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Low-Country Chicken Bog?

I'm thinking of several rice based items, and looking at an East Indian themed meal for at least one lunch or dinner.

hmmn, the quiche/fritatta idea is good - gotta ponder that one and see if I can make it happne. I'm not positive of exactly what pans I'll have at my disposal for doing multiples, this is a big factor for some ideas put forth so far.

Thanks all - appreciate the comments!


Edited by SushiCat (log)
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Low-Country Chicken Bog?

The one I've made is Paula Deen's, which can be found on FTV's site. It's not exactly figure friendly though. 1 fryer, 1 lb. kielbasa (or any other smoked sausage), onion, water to cover, spices. Once the chicken is cooked you take it out, and while it's cooling, you add the rice to the pot and let that cook. Shred the chicken, add back to the pot, and there you have it. The FTV recipe says it yeilds 4-6 servings, but we typically get closer to 8 or 10, and we're relatively big eaters. Pretty easy, pretty inexpensive, and served with a bottle of hot sauce, it's pretty darn good.

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Don't forget Middle Eastern and Mediterranean themes also...they work great for a crowd as many of these dishes do not have to be piping hot..and you could incorporate some interesting appetizer type side dishes such as homous, tzatiki, baba ghanoush etc etc etc..I'm sure Paula Wolferts reciepes will help.......

Other thoughts..stuffed peppers..phyllo things and the ever popular..things on sticks...ok skewers...be it meat or fruit...grilled veggies..marinated veggies

hope this helps...L


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Chicken Marbella with Buttered Noodles -- everyone loves this. And it is too easy to make.

Swedish Meatballs -- again with the noodles.

Spanikopita - though this isn't a budget item. Spinach (even frozen) is wickedly expensive.

Huge trays of baked macaroni and cheese (this is probably as expensive as serving meat.)

My favorite is moroccan meatballs (half beef and half lamb) in a spicy tomato sauce with olives, raisins, and chickpeas, served with couscous.

Moroccan chicken with olives and preserved lemons served with couscous.


"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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How about meatloaf. It can be made ahead and baked off before service.

Chili con carne.

Chicken pot pie, made in in hotel pans with a pancake batter or a thin bisquick batter for a topping.


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Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye


Gregg Robinson

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great ideas, keep it coming! I'm finalizing menus as best I can on Thursday this week and the cooking begins with prep on Friday and first meal service is Sat. lunch. I'm not adept at blogging while I'm busy, so I'll likely post info. at the end. I promise to try and post something in the early days ... if my helpers are helpful then I will.

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We are midway through, lunch dinner Sat. all meals Sunday and now through lunch Monday. It is going well, but OMG people are incredibly thankful and very strange (as I already knew) about the food they eat.

Is everyone on atkins? Can't keep enough meat type proteins in stock ... it is HOT and sticky weather here, I'm eating only fruit and a few salads but everyone is loving what I'm creating ... more soon - I promise!


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Hello all - and thanks for the reminders about posting. I am so NOT recovered it defies belief! 225 is too many people to cook for, unless perhaps, you are a professional.

Here is what I did:

Two days before the event, finalized my menu plans and shopping lists; shopped for bulk veggies and fruits and as many stables as I could; planned prep for Friday; managed to fit in a bit of onion chopping etc.

One day before event, shopped for more items - e.g. ice etc.; cooked anything I could think of that would taste just as good pre-cooked; worried a TON about refridgeration space! Started the cold soup bases - they needed to be vegetarian so I had to get some good flavor in etc.

The facility I was using has three normal house sized refridgerator/freezer units and one larger fridge only unit, plus one small coffin style freezer. I thought they had a great stove, but I was wrong, only 4 burners, two large/two small and electric with a few problems. They do have a nice oven, convection and holds about 6 professional pans.

I can't actually remember all that we cooked and I think my notes got left behind. It looked something like this:


Fresh bagels, cut up canteloup, other fruits like grapes, plums etc., cream cheese, tofu-cream cheese, p.b. & jam, yoghurt, cottage cheese, cold cereals and assorted juices and milks, coffee and tea, cold water and iced tea. For hot foods at breakfast we served hardboiled eggs and either a frittatta or an eggy-bread pudding (savoury but vegetarian).


Each day we had assorted breads and fillings for sandwiches, a lettuce or veggie salad, tuna salad or chicken salad (or both!), all the condiments you can imagine, hummus and sometimes something else like this, plus either some kind of green beans, or other veggie AND a cold soup.

Soups were: cold zucchini - both vegan and a dairy version, cold cucumber, cold carrot and ginger (biggest hit) and gazpacho.

Veggies and salads were: curried green beans with cocunut; carrot and chick pea salad; cucumber salad in an Asian vinegrette; roasted potatoes/sweet potatoes/beets; roasted green beans; ceasar salad, green salad, chopped salad etc.

Afternoon snack consisted of anything good left over from the previous night's dessert (supplemented if need be by store bought sweets, just no time or inclination to bake), as well as crudite and hummus, cheese plates, watermelon, and assorted fruits


Cold or hot soup - e.g. tomato and rice, lentil, gazpacho (tried to not serve the same as at lunch)

Either poached chicken in a sauce, or roasted chicken quarters or another meat

Veggetarian entre, e.g. veggie lasagna, ratatouille, pasta primavera etc.

Hot vegetable and salad

Corn on the cob - it was mostly in season and very good in that part of the world (sadly the only bite I had was from a raw cob the first night to 'test' it)

Dessert - baked daily by a woman who is near and dear to my heart and helped keep my sanity. My favorite is what she calls cobbler, but is not what most of you call cobbler ... essentially a cake batter baked in a sheet pan with fresh berries on top that bake into the cake - yum :wub:

I had help with dinner (and dessert as mentioned) I cannot take credit for all, nor do I want to as we had our hands full! The big things of note were this:

People eat more at lunch than at any other meal

Lots of people are doing some form of high protein / low carb. eating

Many people do not know much about food. For example some people thought we were buying everything and just putting it out on the buffet table, when clearly things were very much home-made, etc.

Teenagers with no specific experience in cooking are not always the best kitchen helpers, but they are challenging and lots of fun!

No matter how hard you try to cater to the variety of eaters, there is always at least one person who is doing something more extreme and needs a version of short order cooking ... usually this person is not a small child!

The biggest task is cleaning - I renewed my respect for all the restaurant dishwashers out there - they are truly the unsung heros of our food exploits!

Chicken is easier to cook for a crowd than beef.

If you have a selection of deli meats, turkey is taken at least 2 to 1 over all other meats

IT WAS WAY TOO HOT where I was - 90+ F, 30+ C every day with humidity in the 90% range! Blech. No airconditioning in a kitchen in that kind of heat is exhausting!

... and more

It will be a while before I think about this large an event again. Five days of those eaters at those meals was enough for me. I have had many a simple salad since it ended, and more meals out than usual and it is hard to readjust down to cooking for a regular crowd!

Thanks to all who offered suggestions, and recipes. Also thanks for the interest and patience as I am quite late in posting about my adventure! As usual I was only able to make some of my planned items as I had to adjust day by day depending on what fruit was ripe, etc. Also leftovers from dinner have to factor into lunch because we only really had enough fridge space to make things work from one day to the next. I was really glad that I roasted off a case of spuds and 25 lbs each of beets and sweet potatoes in advance, this type of advance prep saved me.

The other thing I forgot is how you don't really want to eat what you have cooked even though you have planned meals based on what you like, e.g. cocunut curry green beans etc. Once you make 'em for the crowd, all you want is a nice raw tomato etc. I'm alone now for the next 9 nights, I'll be eating fresh fruit and maybe some steamed veggies if I feel ambitious!

Edit: Forgot to mention, had to shop each day to fill in what we needed and get more fresh things that needed refridgeration! That was an additional problem, none of the raw ingredients were delivered, got fresh bagels and bread daily, fresh corn and other veggies/fruit as needed etc.

Edited by SushiCat (log)
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