Wedding Rehearsal dinner ideas?
My nephew is getting married in a few weeks, and my brother has just informed me that my duties include cooking the post-rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, family and friends (probably about 30 people).
I don't mind, but the catch is: I only fly into town the night before, and will have to do all the shopping and cooking on the day.
We won't know exactly what time dinner will be served, so I need to make something that can sit pretty much indefinitely.
Any suggestions will be more than gratefully received!
Sounds like a job for roast beef. It's big, doesn't need to be marinated, and once it's out of the oven it can pretty much sit indefinitely. It'll stay warm for at least an hour, be lukewarm for another, and everyone likes cold roast beef!
The only catch is having enough time to cook it; I don't know how much time you have between rehearsal and dinner.
Sides can all be green salads and cold pasta salad type deals.
Traditionaly the rehersal dinner is hosted by and is the responsibility if the grooms parents. If both of his parents are living they may already be making plans for this. If they are unable or unwilling to take on this responsibility I think I'd make a large green salad and have a variety of dressings in bowls, order in 6-8 assorted pizzas making sure that at leawt were veggie and hit a local bakery for cup cakes etc.
To turn out the amount of food you'll need in such a short period of time, I think you're going to have to rely on the oven. Roast Beef isn't a bad suggestion. Another way to go might be broiled skirt steak or flank steak. You can whack them in the oven and cook them to a medium rare (you'll have more done pieces on the ends). I've done this in the past and used the large containers of fresh salsa from the costco fresh/fridge foods section as a sauce (just heat it through and let it cook down just a bit). Other things that might do well are roasted asparagus and/or mushrooms. Whole sides of salmon from a place like costco will do ok and can also be done under the broiler. Its tasty at room temperature, though you'd need a fridge if it had to sit longer than an hour or so after it comes out of the oven. The nice thing about it, though, is that it cooks so quickly that you could wait until just moments before people were ready to eat to cook it in the first place.
A big salad is a must, but make sure it won't be too hot where ever you're serving it or you'll have a wilted mess on your hands.
Depending on your location and budget, you could always go to a nearby Whole Foods or Fresh Market and snag a variety of pre-made salads (pastas, cous-cous, chilled risottos, grilled veggies, etc) to pull out of the fridge at the last minute. Easy hors d'oeuvres will also buy you some prep time and stave off everyone's hunger - fruit and cheese display, breads, olives, etc. Grab a family member who likes to entertain and name him/her the bartender - keep the glasses full and everyone laughing while you're prepping - will buy you some more time.
You could go really relaxed with grilling - throw on kabobs, barbecued chicken breasts, whole corn-on-the-cob, eggplant, squashes, even French bread, or a low-country boil. A fun option for dessert is a self-serve icecream sundae bar or treats from a local favorite eatery (ie, I used the famous fried pies from the Varsity for a recent Atlanta wedding - they came hot and ind. wrapped in cute retro sleeves. I've also seen Krispy Kreme doughnuts brought in late-night - another local favorite.)
Good news for you is that in summer, you can get away with a more relaxed, casual menu. Good luck!!
Alternate to a roast beef, a spiral sliced ham works well. Buy some bagged, prewashed greens, which can be thrown into a salad bowl (or 2 given number of invitees) and dress with homemade or bottled vinaigrette -- add crumbled bleu cheese, dried cranberries, etc. to dress-up. Also, fresh fruit salad, which can be made before and refrigerated. And, buy a few bags of frozen, peeled, cooked shrimp (26-30 per pound) and put in fridge to defrost the night before -- serve with homemade or bottled cocktail sauce. Pick up some decent bakery bread. Serve the whole thing as a buffet.
This works well for any event where a hoard is coming to your place after some event that you are all attending - graduations, etc.
Rather than doing the shopping that day, send your brother a shopping list and make sure all the ingredients are waiting for you. This will ease some of the burden on you day of, and give you more time to prep.
Does it have to be a full-out dinner? A variety of finger foods may be easier.