dinner for a crowd
I just held a party for eight, my tatami room only holds eight or I would have had more. We had kimchi nabe. It was easy, fast and delicous. Moreoever, clean up was a snap.
kimchi, thinly sliced pork, chrysanthemum leaves, tofu, green onions (and whatever else you want!)
served beer and shochu on the rocks.
I'm assuming you're in Edina, MN by your screename. I'm in MN also and it's going to get awfullllly cold in the next few days, minus zero for HIGH's - yikes!
I can think of nothing better for subzero weather than two different types of chili to suit most people's tastes. I love to make a white chicken chili based roughly on the delicious one they serve at Dixie's on Grand. I also have a lot of fun improvising a sirloin/black bean/chipotle style chili which provides a lot of heat.
Offer garnishes of pickled jalapenos, sour cream, shredded cheddar and crumbled queso, minced scallions and oyster crackers or deep fried tortilla strips.
Sides would include homemade cornmeal jalapeno cheddar muffins, lots of to die for Hope Creamery butter and a fresh green/veggie salad with assorted dressings.
Rich dark chocolate brownies would complete the meal.
Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook has a recipe for chicken chili that doesn't have beans in it. It is beyond delicious, the colors are beutiful, and serves 12 generously and inexpensively. Also, it is a terrifically warming, do-ahead winter option. Serve with a salad of sturdy greens with a dijon vinaigrette, corn bread or crusty ciabatta. It pairs well with bold whites, mellow reds, and many different beers.
If you want a vegetarian option, there is a delicious artichoke and mushroom lasagna (recipr on epicurious) that has been a hit each timme I've served it. Good luck. Let me know how it turns out!
last month i did baked ziti with turkey sausage and spinach for 14 guests and it worked very well - quicker to assemble than lasagne and easier to eat off a plate on one's lap than spaghetti. jambalaya is also easy to make for a crowd, if you want to do something different from red sauce italian.
sandwiches - pulled pork, curry chicken, grilled vegetables, braised beef, gyros (this was my menu this past new years eve)
stews, curries, hotpots also work well.
homemade pizza usually goes over well. just par cook and finish when ready to serve.
or diffent pastas with differnt sauces (maybe even a choice for your guests)
good luck and update us as to what you end up doing.
My parents have casual dinner gatherings pretty frequently. Main qualifications are not too messy and can be eaten without needing to simultanously use a fork and knife. Past meals have been:
- Middle Eastern: hummus, tabouleh, baba ghanoush, kebabs, salad, falafel, etc.
- A ham or roast beef with bread, cheese, salad, roast veggies
- Paella (although that can be a messy one to eat if you are balancing it in your lap- rice everywhere.)
We recently had nearly 30 guests for dinner, and like you wanted to keep it casual. Instead of buying deli trays I made my own. I went to the best grocer in the area and bought the specialty meats and cheeses, ordered a few varieties of rolls, and had an assortment of condiments. It worked out beautifully and was very easy. Doing it myself vs buying premade platters allowed me to get the nicer varieties for less money overall.
You could also roast the meats yourself. A lovely buffet could be set up with excellent rolls and bread, a roast pork shoulder (a nice cheap cut), small roast turkey or turkey breast, bowls of mustards and relishes, some pickled vegetables (mushrooms!), a platter of nice cheeses, olives, and so on. I would do a very rustic dessert - free-form apple tart, maybe. Also, easy to eat with one's hands, and the roasting can be done the day before.
Good idea about doing the meats ourselves. We did the entire dinner but guests brought the desserts, so at least I didn't have to think about that. It was a beautiful spread and was perfect for this particular group.
We have done other dinners with upwards of 45 people, and usually I do lasagna and stuffed shells for those. We are in a new home though and I didn't want to chance red sauce/carpet, lol!
I second the buffet. My standard is a baked ham, a basket of small rolls so people can carve their own ham and make sandwiches (have several mustards), a hot casserole such as baked beans or potatoes au gratin, and several salads. To expand this for a really large group, have a turkey at the other end of the table, do both hot casseroles, and have more salads. Unless your guests are all vegetarians you can't go wrong with this. For a group up to 12, I also like to do a Middle-Eastern buffet with a big pan of moussaka, dill rice or spanakorizo, and all the things like fattoush, hummos, baba ganooj, cucumber salad, pita, etc., and a pan of baklava for dessert. The idea of a buffet is to overwhelm everybody (and luckily for you, you can prepare most of it ahead of time and the leftovers are your reward for hard labor).