Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cooking for a crowd

In my little corner of the Midwest, spring is the time for larger-than-average parties in celebration of events like graduation, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. I have friends from other regions of the country who have never heard of a graduation party, but around here it's the custom to celebrate with an open house of 200+ people. Quite often they're pretty casual affairs, sometimes with a bit of a potluck nature, but no matter what the menu, the big question is how much food to prepare.

A local grocery store would love to cater these events and recently printed an ad of what they have to offer. I thought the details would be useful as a starting point to plan food for future events and I hope you think so too.

BBQ Party Pack (Serves 20-25)
  • 5 lb. pulled pork
  • 2-3 lbs. baked beans
  • 24 count tray corn bread (or 2 dozen corn bread muffins)
  • 2 dozen bakery buns
  • 6 lb. Cole slaw
Chili Dog Party Pack (Serves 20-25)
  • 48 hot dogs
  • 6 packs (8 count) hot dog buns
  • 6 lbs. potato salad or Cole slaw
  • two 32 oz. kraut
  • two 22 oz. cans chili
  • pickle spears
  • two boxes of potato chips
  • 3 lbs. diced onions
  • 32 ounces shredded Cheddar
Taco Fiesta (Serves 25-30)
  • 8 lb. cooked taco meat
  • 3 lb. shredded lettuce
  • 3 lb. diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. shredded Cheddar
  • two (20 count) packs of tortillas
Chicken Wings Party Pack (serves 20-25)
  • 4 lbs. (approximately 50) Buffalo wings
  • 4 lbs. BBQ wings
  • Rance or Blue Cheese dressing
  • 1 lb. celery sticks
  • 6 lbs. Cole slaw or potato salad
  • two boxes potato chips
  • pickle spears


Thérèse said...

Hmm... maybe it's just because I'm pregnant and always hungry, but the pulled pork meal seems a tad skimpy on the meat to me. I'm less than experienced in feeding crowds, though; what would you say, MM?

Margaret Mary said...

My mother-in-law grew up in a tight-knit Polish community where it was the custom for all the women to get together to cook for weddings, funerals, etc. (she would never consider catering a big event), and her rule of thumb was 1/4 pound of meat per expected guest. I suppose the number of smaller-appetite children balanced the number of grown men and it all worked out, portion wise. So yes, in answer to your question I would get 5 lbs. of meat for 20 guests.

On a related note, I have served pulled pork for a big party before and I'd recommend using smaller dollar buns or dinner rolls instead of full sized buns. There's less waste for small children and those with bigger appetites can take two or three sandwiches.

Lucy said...

I recently made pulled pork for a book study group, and I found that an eight pound roast (trimmed) made enough for twenty adults. But if you had a more mixed crowd, I could see five pounds working.

Growing up in the South, graduation teas for the young ladies and their mothers, rather than parties/bbqs were more common.