Dinner Party for 20
I'm throwing a weekend long bachelorette party. I need a recipe to make the first night that can feed about 20 women, reheat well, and seem impressive but will not take too long. I was thinking something along the llines of a casserole would be an easy main dish. Although, like I said, I am looking to impress so nothing is too complicated if the taste is worth the time.
Chicken Marbella! In my house, it's THE classic dish for a large informal party: festive, dead easy to make, and can be assembled ahead of time. It's great when it's piping hot, but it's just as tasty at room temperature and is even good cold. Best of all, everybody loves it.
I'd make a good pot of braised stew. Anything from fancy lamb type of stew to Coq Au Vin. It's not at all complicated and reheat super well. Most of them include some marinating time, braising and tossing everything in the pot and let it simmer for couple hours. Serve with good ole mashed potato to soak up the gravy. Aside that, maybe some finger sandwiches for starter. Cut up the bread in advance, and prepare all the spread. Assembly part won't take more than 1/2 hour. Oh, and my favorite of all...Gumbo!! :)
As Iris said, a stew or ragout. Chicken enchiladas, a taquesa bar, or a giant baked chicken tamale. You could also consider a Paella or a Jambalaya. Or a big batch of pasta sauce and then different shapes & sizes of pasta. Make a vegetarian marinara and then grill some sausage to serve alongside for the carnivores to add to theirs.
Does it have to be cooked in advance?
For instance, you could purchase chicken wingettes (or chicken spare ribs), approximately 1 kilogram (2 pounds?) is enough for five people (so 8 -10 pounds would be enough for 20), you can marinate them and store in the fridge until needed - then cook them in a moderate oven (180 - 200C) until skin turns brown and crispy. Then serve with a salad and something like a potato and gruyere (or tallegio) gratin (Nigella Lawson has a fantastic gratin recipe) - the gratin can be made in advance.
I agree with the wingettes or ribs. A bachelorette party seems to cry out for fun foods and a casserole might be too stuffy. Think party foods: crostini with tomato basil, pita chips with hummus, wings, ribs, shrimp cocktail. Loads of variety so people don't get bored and snack-y type foods that can be grabbed whenever. Maybe quesadillas and a taco bar too.
When I am faced with a large group of gals I expect there to be several veggies so I like to
make a big veggie curry using lot's of veggies, Red Thai curry paste, a couple of cans of
coconut milk, Usually I will split the curry up between two pots and add shredded chicken
to one or a nice piece of fish, which cooks in a flash in the curry. Mahi Mahi is my favorite
but Talapia is good too. The basic curry can be made ahead and reheated, it gets better
this way. I serve it on rice.
Good luck. If you need a more detailed recipe let me know and I will produce it.