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Dec 4, 2007 05:33 AM

Caterers: I need your help!

I am preparing a dinner at a friend's house- but would like to do as much prep as possible beforehand. It will be a dinner for 14 people- with appetizers beforehand at 5:30pm with dinner to be served at 7pm. Dinner is salad and the choice of either rack of lamb or stuffed chicken followed by dessert. So far I have 4 chicken to make and 10 lamb. My question is this: In terms of cooking the chicken and lamb should I do this before hand and then simply reheat? Or perhaps brown the chicken and lamb beforehand and then bake at my friend's home? I would like to come up with a solution that causes the least amount of mess, noise etc. as possible but that will still maintain the quality of the chicken and lamb.

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  1. Because Rack of Lamb is far more delicate than chicken and if overcooked...dreadful, I suggest pre-cooking the stuffed chicken and re-heating because it's far harder to ruin or overcook chicken; do not pre-cook or pre-brown the rack of lamb.

    1. Some advice here on pre- par cooking is definately needed, and from a professional.

      Back in 1991, several people got food poisoning from chicken that had been par cooked the night before, see

      I would be most interested to know the science behind this- any c schoolers have that answer?

      1 Reply
      1. re: julietg

        i agree with julietg that what's scary about what the op is proposing is not how the menu items turn out, it's how they will be parcooked, cooled, held, transported, and reheated. home refrigerators don't generally have the cooling capacity to be handling large amts of partially cooked meats, cooling them w/in a safe amount of time. the whole post makes a food manager wince and worry about the safety of the guests.
        are we talking about *whole* stuffed chickens, or *parts* of chickens, stuffed? can you supply more info about the logistics of your parcooking plan and the equipment you will be using?

      2. I would cook the chicken and the lamb right before I went over, and keep it warm.
        Everything else can be made up ahead of time and then simply assembled at the party while you work on the entree.

        Important to have at least 2 helpers. I did a party for 40. And cooked the main entree right before walking out the door here (because they didn't have a separate kitchen. Kept it really warm and set it in the oven. It worked out beautifully, but I had really good help, there is a lot going on. Have all your condiments set up, have someone fill the containers. Table set up, Napkins, flatware, glasses and plates can be done way ahead of time. Get that done. So that all you need to do is plate the salads and sides. You don't mention but it looks like this is a plated dinner not buffet. Which is fine. Do the chickens first. since thats the least, then work on the lamb.
        Presuming all like med rare, I just made these the other day, they cook beautifully on my cast iron flat side griddle, and they stay warm, just tent them. Cooked on more rare side, they will keep cooking. Baking lamb chops dries them out, and so will it the chicken, wrap well in foil or foil pans to retain all juices. cook the stuffed chicken prior to bringing it, and keep warm, chicken is harder to keep than lamb I think...Dessert can be plated swiftly with three people cutting, cleaning, and serving. Unless you are making sure the appetizers are there prior, and have instructions for the hostess or a server, that's a long time between dinner and appetizers. I'd shorten that time if the hostess would allow. That is too long to hold dinner in the oven without ruining it if you are par-cooking. I would not do it that way. You will be disappointed, I'm certain we've all experienced a dinner at one time or another that were held over, and they tasted like it. Hope my suggestions help...

        2 Replies
        1. re: chef chicklet

          Thanks chicklet. Really helpful. I agree with what all the others said above in terms of food safety... of course this is extremely important. It looks like the only option is to completely cook berforehand or do all the cooking there. Luckily I have two helpers...and am doing the appetizers as well but those will all be done beforehand. Any further suggestions would be appreciated.

          1. re: kgebhard

            You have more competent advice than mine, but I would do everything possible ahead of time and have the meat ready to stick in the oven. In can be getting to room temperature for cooking on the drive over. All you have to do is have a good oven and then let it rest. Salad, sides, desert, they can all be precooked and ready to warm.

            DH and I actually like a lettuce salad better when it's crisp, but not cold. I'm not crazy about cold forks and plates. Everything has more flavor at room temp

            These must be really good friends --- or are you really catering? Good woman