questionswhat would you feed a large group of people?

vote-for53vote-against
vote-for25vote-against

Have fun!! I would start with spaghetti, salad, and lots of garlic or cheesy bread or both.
With the Spaghetti you can add just about anything, all meat, all veggies or both.
I like to use thick french bread, slice it down the middle add garlic butter and shredded cheese or just one of them. I melt butter with garlic powder or minced with basil leaves and a pinch of salt in the microwave, and brush on the bread, then put in oven at about 350 for about 10 - 20 minutes.

Hope this helps

vote-for11vote-against

Stews are also very easy. You can set up a hearty beef stew filled with beans and veggies to simmer all day, and it's delicious served over mashed potatoes.

Also, if its feasible to have someone stay back, rent a cooker and roast a pig. That's always a big hit at hte large events I've been to.

vote-for5vote-against

@meems212: Spaghetti is definitely on the list. I like the idea of making it cheesy garlic bread instead of just garlic bread. Definitely adds something to it. Thanks for the idea!

@cmaxelson: I hadn't thought about stew. That might be a possibility. We're doing construction in the morning and VBS in the evening, so our downtime is basically lunch through dinner. If we got something on right at lunch, that might be enough time to make it work.
I'd love to roast a pig but I don't think that would work due to time and cost. But it would be awesome if we could. There's little better in my mind than slow roasted pork with a good vinegar based bbq sauce. And now I'm hungry. :)
Thanks for the ideas.

vote-for27vote-against

A few small fishes and a couple loaves of bread?

vote-for5vote-against

Chicken. Cook it anyway you want. It's cheap and everyone loves it.

vote-for12vote-against

Do you have access to chafing dishes or buffet servers? If so, bulk items like rice and potatoes can be made a couple of hours before hand (minding proper food safety guidelines, of course.)

Tacos work really well for a big group of folks. Both hard corn and soft flour shells. Shredded lettuce, grated cheese, salsa and tortilla chips should keep everyone happy.

A giant helping of stir fry also makes things pretty easy. See if you can get a hold of a rice cooker. 2 or 3 batches of rice feeds plenty.

Good luck!

vote-for14vote-against

Sloppy Joes are an easy standby and inexpensive.
BBQ pulled pork in a roaster, prep in the morning and let it cook all day. Ready for you around dinner time
Stuffed peppers wouldn't take too long
Roasted red skin potatoes, quartered
Chicken noodle soup or beef vegetable soup
Anything fried in a deep fryer will be quick and inexpensive if you prepare yourself (don't buy frozen)
Pizzas, typically you can find a shop that will donate
Pasta and meatballs
Sausage hoagies are another one you can do in a roaster
Fried fish and mac-n-cheese

vote-for7vote-against

Alton Brown's recipe for shepherd's pie is very tasty and not super difficult. He uses lamb, but I have used ground beef and been very happy with the results. It does use fresh rosemary and thyme, but I'd be pretty surprised if you can't find them; additionally, it's potatoes, butter, cream for mashed potatoes, and carrots, onion, oil, garlic, ground meat, tomato paste, chicken broth, corn, peas, salt, and pepper. The recipe scales pretty well, too.

The short version of the meaty bit is cook the onions and carrots in the oil, add garlic, add meat and brown, add tomato paste, chicken broth, fresh herbs, corn, and peas, simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Mashed potatoes go on top, you can stick the whole shebang in the oven if you want to brown the potatoes on top. You can adjust pretty much any of the proportions in his recipe to taste; it's on the food network website if you're interested.

You'll need a big/multiple pot/s or batches for 35 people, though.

vote-for12vote-against

Our family does a 30+ person vacation once every 2 years. We rotate who is cooking, which helps, but there are usual go-to dinners:
I make chili, cornbread, & brownies. Never any leftovers.
Grilling - chicken, hotdogs/hamburgers, etc. big hit.
Lasagna - heartier than spaghetti, and if you don't buy into the whole "you must cook the noodles first" racket, there isn't a ton of prep-work.

Have fun!

vote-for5vote-against

If you don't already have one, get a big turkey roaster to use as an oversized crock pot. They come in mighty handy. I have made everything from brisket to pulled pork in mine and it's easy to feed a crowd with them.

vote-for4vote-against

Also good: rice and stir-fry. Throw in a bunch of vegetables and you can bulk up the volume without adding too much to the cost. I like recipes like this one:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/lemon_chicken_stir_fry.html

But you may want to practice ahead of time and adjust the flavor profile to your liking; it's easier to screw up stir-fry than shepherd's pie. The other thing is that while stir-fry is fast if you have a good heat source, you'll be very actively involved the whole time you're making it. It can get tiring if you're making a lot.

vote-for14vote-against

I used to cook a lot of feasts for my medieval group with sit down dinners for over 150 people, and I made a pamphlet of recipes called "Vast Repasts: The Little Book of Cooking Big". I wanted to offer to scan it (it was long enough ago I wrote it on a typewriter) and email it to you, but I don't know how to private message someone on here. It includes entrees, vegetables, pastas, soups and stews as I recall. It's maybe 20-40 recipes (I don;t have one here at the office to look at) generally scalable from 30-150 people. Maybe it would be more practical to load the scans to a fileshare site and just send you the link. Anyway, let me know if you are interested.

vote-for4vote-against

@moondrake: That would be really cool. Thanks for offering to do that!

I'm not certain how to PM people here either but if you could get it on a web site somewhere and post a link that would work. Or I could create a junk email address I could post, but that will have to wait until this evening as I can't get to outside email accounts from work.

vote-for3vote-against

My standbys are pasta, chili, stew, and stroganoff. Oven fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, or baked chicken for non-red meat. Depends on the storage you have. If you have a large freezer, hit Costco or BJ's for their large quantity packaged foods.

vote-for3vote-against

@moondrake: If the recipes are indeed good, you should try and get that published. I do a LOT of BBQ for large parties and would love to have some additional scaleable recipes.

vote-for3vote-against

I'll see about scanning it and posting it to someplace on the web that I can share here tonight. I've written lots of how-to articles and pamphlets for art, cooking, costuming, etc. I sell them for a couple of bucks off my art booth sometimes, but I am far too lazy to pursue actual publishing.

vote-for2vote-against

Pffft. Go old school and throw a buffalo over a fire. Everyone keeps saying how they want to get back to the older, simpler days. Let 'em prove it!

vote-for6vote-against

If it's Arizona (I'm a native) cook some pulled pork and serve in tortillas Throw some pork roasts in the oven and cook at a low temp for several hours. When it's done, shred it, pour in some canned green chilies, chili powder, cuman, salt, pepper and a few jars of a high quality salsa.

You can also divide up the meat, half mexican style, half BBQ sauce and serve with buns. Best of all it's all self serve and you can get some aluminum serving containers from the dollar store

Pork roasts have been on sale at Arizona area Fry's for $1.88 per pound for the past few weeks

vote-for8vote-against

Remember that it will be hot in Tuscon in late summer. If you aren't desert dwellers, it's going to be very hot indeed. So you are probably going to want to include some cooler fare like salads, watermelon, and lemonade on your menu. You might even want a cold meal or two, such as cold cuts and fruit or a sandwich buffet.

vote-for6vote-against

Depending on how healthy you want to be, you could serve chili on Fritos - that's tasty and quick, but not the healthiest thing.

Taco salads are easy - get a lot of chips, lettuce, cook some ground beef with taco seasoning, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos etc etc - let them set up their own plates. The only thing you'd have to cook is the meat (although some "Mexican" restaurants let you buy their meat in bulk (we have one here called Taco Time))

vote-for3vote-against

I lived in Tucson for 6 years, have a fun trip! Make sure to stop by some of the AWESOME Mexican restaurants out there. If you get a chance stop by one of them, alot of them offer great deals to large partys. Also, Greasy Tony's and Lucky Wishbone are both excellent places :-)

If you're going to miss out on the Tucson Eats, make some Chili, simple and it feeds a lot of people, at least at our house partys :-D

vote-for3vote-against

@luvche21: Tacos/tacos salads are definitely on the list. If we have a grill I'm thinking that fajhitas wouldn't be too difficult either.

@moondrake: I'm from Texas so we'll be used to the heat for the most part. I think the schedule is driven by trying to keep teams out of the heat of the day (VBS in the evening rather than the afternoon), which I'm sure will be appreciated, but not completely necessary for us. I did a trip to Reynosa, MX a few years ago where it hit 109 three afternoons and we were on a construction site with almost no shade. That was hot but aside from everyone dealing with heat rash to some degree we were all fine.

@ryanwb: I hadn't thought about pulled pork but, especially if we had a couple of crock pots that would be a great way to go. I really need to find out who I need to talk to to get a general kitchen inventory to see what equipment really will be available.

Thanks for all the suggestions! Keep them coming!

vote-for3vote-against

One other alternative is something like turkeys or hams. Just pop them in the oven, and let 'er rip. Throw in some potatoes for the last hour of cooking for yummy baked potatoes (or cut them up, add herbs & spices, and make oven roasted potatoes if you are feeling ambitious). Same for meatloaf, etc. Fairly low prep, easy to scale. Plus, you get yummy leftovers for sandwiches.

Chicken cordon-bleu (sort-of). Chicken breast, pounded thin, slice of ham & swiss, bread & bake.

Just as a tip - when preparing mass quantities of bacon and/or sausage, it's far easier to throw them in some baking pans and sling them in the oven. Also wind up with more uniform end results (they all burn together) and the bacon stays flat.

vote-for3vote-against

turkey. Pizza. Lasgna.

CHILLI!!!! with corn bread, or better yet, served in the little round sourdough boulles, scooped out into bread bowls.

vote-for6vote-against

if they came over like...right now?
breath mints, generic triscuits, and chinese leftovers from 2 weeks ago.

vote-for6vote-against

Jambalaya is the go-to dish for large crowds here in Louisiana. You can google it and find a wide variety of recipes, and can use sausage, pork and/or chicken for the meat, depending on what is available. Ignore any suggestions to add seafood. That would jack up the cost (especially in Arizona!) and would require some special handling to keep fresh. I have a recipe at home that feeds a crowd, but I don't have it with me here at work. The good things about jambalaya are that it can be made with a variety of meats, and it stretches your dollars a long with with the rice in it. If you don't like rice, there are "pastalaya" variations that use pasta, instead.

vote-for4vote-against

I've made a few larger meals, and one that tends to go over well includes the following:
Potatoes diced into 1/2 inch cubes (approx)
Chicken diced into 1/2 inch cubes (approx)
Sausage cut into rounds then quartered
Green, Red, and Orange Bell peppers
Onion
and a Cheese Sauce made with
a roux
milk (or cream if you like)
pepper-jack cheese
sharp cheddar cheese
* you cook all the meats, potatoes, and peppers separately then combine pouring the cheese sauce over the top so it works its way down into the whole dish. Cover top lightly in panko. Bake in oven for 30 mins to combine the flavors and finish heating. sprinkle more cheese on top in last 5 mins.
* as to spices: I use quite a bit of cayenne pepper, a moderate amount of black pepper, and a bit of salt. but these are to taste

vote-for2vote-against

I saw meatloaf up there somewhere and that is what I would suggest. I have included a link below for a recipe that is VERY yummy and super easy! Our family loves it.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mini-meatloaves/

vote-for3vote-against

Based on the news lately, it's likely that someone will try to feast on another attendee.

vote-for3vote-against

Back in H.S. when I went to Mexico on a mission trip, the best meal I ate was when we had PB&J after working hard all day. I'm sure it was the hard work, the environment, and the company that made all the difference, but that was the best PB&J sandwich I've ever had.

vote-for3vote-against

@belyndag: Jambalyaya sounds interesting and another thing I wouldn't have thought of. Have to look up some recipes for that. Thanks for the idea!

@darkone01: That does sound good. Panko is like seasoned bread crumbs, right? (I can cook, really. I just don't usually use recipes. :) )

@thepenrod: I understand what you mean. The two best meals I've ever eaten were very simple, after working hard all day and eaten with good friends. There's something about being starving and surrounded by friends that makes any food taste better. And we will have PB&J available at all meals in case someone doesn't like what we're serving or just wants it.

vote-for2vote-against

Pasta dishes (especially baked pasta dishes like lasagna or baked mac&cheese) are always super easy to prepare ahead of time and then just pop in the oven (and use disposable foil baking dishes so less mess to clean!).

If you have access to a crock pot there are also a lot of options that would cut down on prep time and could feed a lot after you add side dishes. If it were me, for one meal I would make this recipe for BBQ Pulled Chicken to put on mini-hoagies or buns and then serve typical BBQ style food (potato salad, veggies, etc.). This recipe is super delicious, as long as you use a high-quality bbq sauce. You could also find a beans and rice recipe with veggies thrown in as another easy crock pot meal.

I would try to find as many make-ahead recipes as possible so you can just throw it in the oven (or crockpot) and not have as much prep right before dinner.

vote-for3vote-against

@gt0163c
Panko is Japanese bread crumbs, basically just coarser bread crumbs than the traditional American kind. I don't tend to use recipes either, but several people have asked for that one, and I had to write one up for them to follow.

vote-for4vote-against

This takes several hours to cook but it SO worth it.
Take three large fresh pork hams or extra large Boston Butts.
Make deep slits in meat every 4-6 inches, inserting a garlic clove in each slit.
Coat meat evenly with dried cumin, oregano, onion powder, salt & pepper.
Place each hunk of porky goodness in a super large ziploc bag.
Squeeze two limes over each piece of meat.
Thinly slice onion large onion, divide evenly & add to ziploc bags.
Add 3/4 cup Cuban mojo marinade to each bag. (Goya makes a decent mojo & can be purchased at Walmart.)
Seal and squish marinade to coat meat.
Marinate in refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Longer is so much better.
Early in day, place meat in large aluminum pans. Cover with foil, sealing on three sides. Bake at 275 degrees for at least 7-8 hours until meat easily falls from bone.
Remove from pan. Cool for 30 minutes. Shred with forks.
(cont.)

vote-for4vote-against

(cont)
Drain and reserve drippings from pans. Return meat to pans. Top with more thinly sliced onions, generous squeezing of limes, salt, pepper. Drizzle a generous amount of drippings (including that lovely pork fat!) Return to hot oven (425 degrees) to reheat, becoming crispy & hot.
Serve with black beans, rice and additional wedges of lime.

Make sure to flip the meat over a few times while it's marinating.

vote-for2vote-against

Rice and beans, chicken tenders, cole slaw/potato salad, enchiladas.

vote-for3vote-against

@gt0163c: @moondrake: The PM system here in a nutshell: To send one, go to woot proper, click the community tab and do a search for the user in the google box on the right. The results will show threads that said user posted on. Find a community link, click it and scroll down until you find their post. There should be an envelope icon in the upper right corner by the avatar. Click it and you get private messaging. It appears to be wonky for me right now, because I tried to send each of you a PM to test it and only moondrake's went through(on the 5th attempt). To check received messages, click on the community link and an envelope will show up in the upper right area with a red border and a number inside the envelope indicating how many responses are in that conversation. Click on it. At least, that's how it worked in the past.

vote-for3vote-against

Okay, let's give this a whirl. I loaded my little recipe book onto a file share, now let's see if I can successfully fileshare. Try this link:
http://www.4shared.com/folder/wZ95RcIM/Vast_Repasts.html

The recipes are for fifty and are mostly pretty heavy meals. They were supposed to be semi-medieval. They are mostly inexpensive to prepare as we were pretty poor back then. They also call for a lot of butter. What can I say, my grandma was from the south. Anyone who's interested is welcome to use the recipes. I left the cover and the preamble even though they aren't necessary to the recipes as it is a kind of fun window into making a feast for a large group of rowdy medievalists. It was fun looking back at these recipes and seeing just how much my cooking style has evolved.

vote-for2vote-against

@jsimsace: Wow, thanks. I will have to save this.

vote-for3vote-against

@moondrake: Thanks!! I have the dubious honor of hosting the next family reunion!

For my two cents, I would do a pasta bar.
A couple types of pasta -- penne or mostaccioli, and linguini/fettuccine/ spaghetti
Sauces: marinara, pesto, Alfredo, or maybe cheese sauce like mac n' cheese
Meats if you want: chicken, meatballs or steak, shrimp, or portobellos for the veggies

Have salad and breadsticks. Works great!

vote-for2vote-against

@moondrake: Initially it gave me an error message on the cover page: "The file has been deleted because it was violating our Terms of user." Then it downloaded fine on the second try. Just FYI if anyone is having trouble, keep trying.

vote-for2vote-against

@moondrake: Cool! And thanks! I'll download it tonight when I get home from work.

vote-for2vote-against

@bnbsouthworth: Thanks for letting me know it worked. I've only used the service once before, to share a large Powerpoint presentation with folks who asked me to present at an out-of-town conference. It's a very useful tool for sharing information on forums like this.

vote-for2vote-against

@moondrake: Just downloaded the recipes and have started looking through them. If nothing else, these will be a great starting off point and will give me an idea of how much I'd need to feed a group of 50. Figuring out the amount required for reasonable portion sizes has always been hard for me. So between knowing what it takes to cook roughly four or five meals for me and what it takes to cook for 50 I should able to do the some math and scale the recipes.

Thanks again!

vote-for1vote-against

@moondrake: I forgot to add the last step: You then need to go back to the ATC forums, find a comment by the recipient and let them know that they have a PM. Also, if the recipient doesn't have the "notifications" turned on they will never realize that there is a PM unless they frequent the forums on woot proper, because PMs don't automatically "ping" the recipient.. Have a great weekend!