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One Dish Meal for a Crowd

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Any ideas for a one dish meal to feed a crowd this holiday season? Perhaps something that can be made ahead. Any advice would be appreciated.

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      1. re: fitzhammer

        An old favorite of mine is tamale pie. That and a big green salad would work well. Maybe some Ambrosia for dessert with a crisp cookie?

    1. Depends on the crowd and the meal... lasagna, chili, or stew can be good group foods if you pair them with some bread and salad. Paella is a good one dish meal but it takes preparation.

      1. Technically a two dish meal, but I used to have a tradition (which I may revive this year) of making a huge helping of Prudomme's (sp?) recipe on Red Beans and rice for New Years Day. Making the Red Beans part of it a couple of days in advance, and then having rice available to cook up within a few minutes.

        A more elegant dish would be a good paella. Many recipes are easily found.

        To jump ahead to a similarish idea I'll do for the next big sporting event (super bowl, NCAA champ, etc) is pulled pork, but then to only have the small rolls available for buns. My wife makes great slaw and we figured this would be a fun "snack" type meal, where people can have a few, try variations of "toppings" and not neccesarily overeat.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Dennis S

          Dennis....Sorry, I did not see your post before I suggested almost the same thing...Not trying to seal your thunder.

          Did you happen to see that Bobby Flay show with his girlfriend? He cooks for her. I enjoy the guy...Lots of people are jealous of his success.

          1. re: Chuck

            Chuck, no problem.

            I've caught many of his shows, but probably not the one you're referencing. What did he cook? Paella?

            I like him - I am also wondering about his success (I was given one of his rubs which is really not impressive), but he seems like an alright guy, and puts together good shows.

            As far as the Red Beans/Rice and the mini pulled pork sandwiches, I'm overly eager for those events to roll around and pull them out for the crowd.

            When I was in college and the first year or so after, I'd make the Red Beans days in advance, and open my doors on New Years Day and invite people for 20 minutes to all day. Whenever someone wanted something to eat they could fix the rice and have at it. Let me enjoy company and my couch, with all the work having been done days before.

            1. re: Dennis S


              Bobby Flay actually made his girlfriend pulled pork, maytag blue cheese slaw and some other stuff for their lunch. It was a great show. His girlfriend? A beautiful model. Life is very good for Bobby.

              Hey, it really is amazing when you think about it...When I was growing up and wanted to be a chef, my Mom would have none of it; I had to go to college! So, I went to a Hotel and Restaurant University....A chef was not considered a nobel profession in the late 60's.

              Today, these guys are stars...Getting the most beautiful girls...hanging with the "A" list..They are the "A" list ...I say...Good for them! But, those old Eurpoean chefs (Europe always respected their chefs;held them in the highest esteem) must be wondering where they went wrong!

              1. re: Chuck

                Wow, the blue cheese slaw sounds awesome. I need to look for that. My wife makes EXCELLENT slaw, but I might have to try to get her to make that or make it myself.

                That's funny about you and thinking about chefdom - I had similar thoughts as well, and Missouri had a good program for both, but likewise, it was more geared towards hotel/resto mngmt than cooking (at that time). An ex of mine, while I was still there, was among the first of an expanded program into the cooking side as well. I'd still like to get back to it sometime - maybe a third career.

                In the same vein but sounding a tad more ludicrous, when I was 14 or so I thought the same about skateboarding - at the time the cops were liable to take your board from you. Now they do alright, too.

                Chase your dreams, I guess.

        2. Spagetti with red gravy and meatballs and good Italian sausage. Have a big bowl of salad and some garlic bread on the side. A hunk of good parm-reg for grating. Mass quantities can be made and spagetti just seems to make everyone happy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ellen

            Ellen's got the best idea...When in doubt, everyone loves Italian and you can adapt it to non-meat eaters, too.

            1. re: Ellen

              Or a hunk of pecorino Romano, perhaps--more in tune with your classic Italian-American red gravy, IMHO.

            2. Generally, rice and pasta dishes are less than ideal when made ahead (because the starches keep on absorbing moisture and get distorted), with the exception of lasagne, the dried and preboiled versions of which are pretty resistent to abuse (as opposed to delicate fresh lasagne).

              Another idea: egg-cheese stratas. Sometimes thought of as the poor person's souffle or crustless quiche. Must be prepared and refrigerated ahead, for the bread to soak up the custard base, and then baked just before serving (be careful not to put a cold Pyrex pan directly in a hot oven, however). Can make different pans with different ingredients: veggies, meats, et cet., to cater to all tastes.

              While this seems like breakfast food, I will assure that people gobble stratas up and love this kind of food in the evening just as much -- even more.

              With a salad or fruit, and some bread, it's a complete meal.

              Eggs rock. Eat them for supper. You'll be glad.

              1. How about seafood gumbo. Serve over rice accompanied by French bread. Delicious.

                1. Chicken Divan covered with a pie crust

                  or a meat and veggies stew covered with a pie crust

                  or a pork roast and pears covered with a pie crust and served on a bed of broccoli stem slaw

                  spanikopita with lamb in it on one side

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kc girl

                    Ah the childhood memories of Chicken Divan...

                    Maybe a mac and cheese type of casserole with chicken and veggies added.

                    Possibly also Jamaican Peas and Rice.

                  2. How about a pulled pork party? Get good crusty hard rolls, make a maytag blue cheese slaw, pickles, homemade BBQ sauce, etc. I saw Bobby Flay do this and it was great. Only problem.....non-swine eaters....

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chuck

                      Do you have a good recipe for pulled pork?

                      1. re: Celeste

                        Anyone with a tried and true should post. I just want to say that there are many good ones out there, and it's such a thing (like chili) that you should only use them as a guide for your own.

                        To my mind, there are two basic directions: vinegar based and traditional tomato bbq sauce based. This doesn't mean that you can't use some of both in any batch, but that is a spectrum you can work with.

                        Read a few recipes of one direction or another and give it a try, then do the other way and see what you like the best. The trad bbq way is easiest in my mind, but I'm preferring the vinegar way.

                        Also sort of like chili, it's like driving a tanker in the ocean, in that there is room to alter the taste, but go slowly and surely - no quick turns, no massive dumps of things like cinnamon or chili or anything else - let it mature slowly.

                    2. Lasagne, jambalaya, smothered chicken. or try this. Cook a pound of Italian sausage. Cut it up into bite size pieces and put them in a large bowl. Cut a large onion and a green pepper and a red pepper into bite size piece and cook them with a few cloves of minced garlic in about a quarter cup of olive oil. When softened some, put them in with the sausage. Add a tablespoon each of oregano and basil, some hot peppers and salt and pepper. Pour in a quart of tomato sauce - homemade if possible. Boil a pound or two of pasta - penne or another shape that's easy to eat. Drain and add to the bowl. Add a pound of cut up mozzarella. Toss it all together and put it in a pan. Cover the top with some parmesan and/or pecorino romano and bake at 300 for about 40 minutes or until heated thru. Mangia.

                      1. Chili. Here's what I do for a party.

                        Make a big batch of chili a day or two or three ahead of time. (Add a bottle or two of beer as the liquid -- it's fabulous.)

                        When you're ready to serve, heat it back up. You can do this in a big crock pot, and it will stay hot for hours, or just do it on the stove and watch the heat so you don't scorch the bottom.

                        Set out bowls of toppings: chopped onion, sliced olives, a couple different shredded cheeses, picked jalapenos, sour cream, hot sauce, chopped cilantro, etc.

                        If you're not planning a sit-down meal, put out large mugs and spoons. It's easier to eat from a mug if you're standing, than from a dish.

                        I served this for a casual party for work associates a few weeks ago. I thought I'd have 6 or so good size servings to freeze for meals later in the month. Au contraire. I thought those locusts were going to scrape the metal off the bottom of my pan . . . .

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Doroth

                          I agree with this idea - like another postermentioned yo can do two different kinds. A traditional red and a white bean chicken(or if you have vegatarians white bean with tofu) I did this for a Halloween party and it went over very well and you can make it all ahead of time.

                          1. re: AimeeP

                            Great idea. Another is two soups, say a minestrone/veggie sort, and a creamy one -- mushroom, broccoli, NE clam chowder, potato.

                          2. re: Doroth

                            I have also frozen my chili, with no deleterious effects. It is great with cornbread & honey butter!

                          3. I would make a couple different stews- one beef, one chicken for example. Stew is so nice this time of year. You can make them the day before. The day of, you can make a big pot of rice or pasta to serve over. Good luck!

                            1. There is a whole book (well, probably many of them but one I own) devoted to this, available at amazon and other online sources:

                              The Big Platter Cookbook: Cooking and Entertaining Family Style

                              Disclosure: I am casually acquainted with the authors

                              1. Red Beans & Rice (with hot Louisana link), served with long grain rice because you can make a huge batch of it and you can cook it the day before the event as it tastes better the next day. You can get a recipe from any Cajun recipe website or Cajun cookbook.

                                1. Cassoulet