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Grilling for 30, need your ideas

We go to a cottage every year. We split into groups and cook for the others one night. I was thinking of grilling salmon this year as it is tasty, reasonably priced and fast cooking. However, not everyone likes fish so I need some complimentary or other ideas.

We could grill some tasty sausages for example. Pork tenderloins (teriyaki) maybe? Last year we did flank steak but the host presliced it before cooking and it wasn't an ideal situation...for one thing, it took forever. It also got a bit dry.

We don't want to be making 60 burgers before hand. I don't like those pre-made hockey pucks you get at warehouse stores either.

Thought I might make a fresh corn salad with green beans, grape tomatoes and basil this year. Possibly reprise a tortellini-feta salad too.

For a happy hour pontoon sunset cruise might make greek salad on a stick (calamatas, feta, tomatoes, onion or cuke, with oregano) or maybe it's too fussy?

So, if you had 30 hungry souls to cook for what would you make?

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  1. Well every year when I was married, we went to a lake and had a weeks vaca. We also took turns cooking. There were 28 of us. There were 3 groups so every three days we cooked. It worked out great and usually had lunch the next day.

    These were mine favorite menus:

    Creamy warm corn dip with tortilla chips and usually some fresh veggies and dip for the kids, or you can make a wonderful spicy onion dip too.

    Main: Ribs, baby back I did in a rub and then cooked in beer in the oven and then grilled with a sauce the last 20 minutes. I also used to throw on some chicken sausage for the kids and for the adults who didn't like pork

    Veggies, I used to do a big tin of my rosemary roasted potatoes right on the grill, very traditional but everyone loved them. After roasted I tossed with some fresh parm, and a fresh herb dressing which really made them good. Kids loved them.

    Also make a Feta, roasted fennel and grape tomatoes, olives and fresh basil. Toss in some arugula and it makes a great side salad.

    For another veggie, always the grilled corn, usually my blue cheese butter or the chili lime butter

    Version II:

    Tenderloins as you said:
    I use my soy, garlic, dijon, cilantro, brown sugar marinade (I can give you exact amounts), marinade in a large baggie all day and grill. Great NO amazing flavor. I love to serve this with fettuccini alfredo, another so easy and quick side but great for a crowd, I did a side of spinach sauteed on the side with a little bacon, onion and balsamic vinaigrette and then I did a great cucumber salad with sour cream and dill, how classic and then some fresh tomato slices as well.

    I know not very unique, but simple classic dishes that one are easy to cook for a crowd, cost effective, not too complicated and most people love everything. Easy cooking for you.

    ALSO, Salmon is an excellent idea. Usually I ask and shrimp becomes the other dish if not salmon lovers, or I would make some simple chicken sausages or Italian sausages. Mix with some onions and peppers on the grill and it makes a easy dish for no seafood lovers.

    Well that is my two sense.

    1. One of my favorite appetizers grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon and grilled or pan grilled or baked. Simple easy and delish with a light dip. Also olives soaked in vodka is a great easy appetizer, same with grape tomatoes. Both good.

      Mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and chives is also great for individual portions and lots of fun and easy, all made ahead. Pretty traditional. I love to take mushrooms I have lightly grilled and marinated and then skewered with different olives and mushrooms and a fresh piece of mozzarella.

      I make a chilled cream cheese, onion and spinach ball. I know cheese ball but you can flatten if you want, but roasted red peppers, scallions make an amazing simple dip with pita chips or crackers. Especially for hot climate on a boat. Easy and just fun. Not a spinach dip but similar. More of a cheese

      1. what about making a couple trays of lasagna and heating it up on the grill or a make your own grilled pizza bar.

        1. I did fillets for about 30 on the 4th, turned out great.

          Also I attended a function a few ago with about 40-50 folks. They did chicken kabobs with a nice sauce, they bbqd them ahead of time and served chilled, turned out great.

          I do paella for large groups, have pans good for 40-50 folks, very impressive and actually easy to do.

          1. I like your sausages idea. You could also flunk down some chicken thighs and legs. Dark meat being more forgiving.

            Sharp sticks on a pontoon boat with people rocking around? I might rethink that. People on pontoon boats sucking down cocktails are fine with tortilla chips and guac. The guac can be hosed off when you get back in. You could also do stuff easy to hold like deviled eggs, BLT tomatoes, marinated shrimp or shrimp cocktail. If you have a barbie attached to your pontoon beast, then the options are limitless.

            1. If you can swing the price, how about lamb chops/ or a rolled lamb roast, stuffed with spinach and etc. or your choice of stuffing, and grilled Since your making a Greek salad that would bemy choice. Surf and turf, being lamb and salmon. OR go to chicken that's safe.

              Grill pizzas, they can be preassembled and ready to go.

              Are you cooking twice, once at the cottage and once for the cruise? Those little chinese takeout cartons are perfect for a moving boat. I think I'd make an Asian inspired salad, and save the Greek one for the night you make the salmon and __________.

              Also, if you have a feta salad one night, I don't think I'd serve it another night.
              Sounds like a challenge pleasing everyone. Have fun!

              1. good for a group - two large beef briskets cooked at 250 degrees for four hours, buy two jars of brisket dry rub.
                Coat the briskets with mustard, the yellow one, no it will not have that flavor it is to make the dry rub stick, then liberally put on the dry rub, both sides. wrap in plastic and tin foil and plop them in the refer over night. The next day take the briskets out 30 minutes before, start the oven. unwrap the briskets and then rewrap in tin foil adding a half a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce to each, put in the oven for 3.5 hours and then take out, open and pour off half to three fourths of the juice and slather more sauce on the top. Put back in the oven for 30 minutes more. take them out and let them sit for 20 minutes and slice. Serve with more sauce for those who like. The nice thing with these is that you can do them the day before you leave or while you are there. If you are lucky you may have left overs for sandwiches. The meat will be super tender.

                1. You know the old saying - you never know how many friends you have till you own a lake house!! How true..... Here's the benefit of our experience. Keep it simple.....I know it's only one day or night, but it's your holiday too! Easy things that have worked here.....pizzas (do all the fixings in the morning and bag till ready to assemble - can be done on the grill too).....sausages are one of our favourites because there are so many varieties and they go well with baked beans (easy) and coleslaw (made earlier), roast taters and if you are so inclined bake some cornbread, freeze and take with you. Pork tenderloins are a great idea.....and salmon is quick and easy, and doesn't have to be steaming hot. Steaks are fine, but pricey for a big crowd. Chicken or steak fajitas can also be easy - big pan of steak strip and/or chicken, and a big pan of sauted veggies (good for rainy days). When we first moved to the lake I was all into providing gourmet food to guests to give them the best "experience" at the cottage....but then I realized I was just missing out on too much, less time in the kitchen, more time on the dock with drink in hand, keep it simple....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LoN

                    I love the fajitas....steak, shrimp, chicken or even fish raco with the sides...yummy!

                  2. I find beer can chicken easy to cook for a crowd. You can make it ahead of time (takes about an hour), you can usually grill several at a time. You can always warm them up by throwing them back on the grill briefly (with bbq sauce for anyone who wants it).

                    1. Marinate chicken fillets ('tenders') in yogurt, fresh lemon, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper to taste (maybe cilantro and a bit of mint if you are into that). Grill 'em and serve on fresh pita or 6" crusty loaves with baby greens, tomato slices, hummus, tzatzik and whatever else you think your guests might like in/on their sandwiches. This maybe to plebian for the kind of party you're having, but its good and chicken tenders cook in mere minutes on a cranked up grill or griddle. The pita sandwich with tzatziki etc also falls into the Greek salad on a stick groove you are toying with doing. Good luck and have fun. Fierce.

                      1. I doubled these two recipes (gazpacho salsa and corn salad) to serve as relishes with simple grilled steak and salad for 10 (I had leftovers). They looked pretty and went over really well. You can make them a day or two ahead, but not more as they tomatoes break down in the first and the lemon and lime zest start to taste soapy in the second.



                        1. My group grilling go to ideas have been:
                          Butterfied leg of lamb. Marinate in the am, enjoy the day and easy to serve to lots.
                          Grilled split cornish hens. (These area a hybrid bird which weight about 1lb each). A really easy size to manage on the grill and they cook quickly. I use the Rasperry Cornish Hens receipe from the Silver Pallatte using frozen berries.
                          And often did steak with fish which when served to "people who never eat meat" always gets eaten first.

                          1. For a large crowd, stick to a roast you can start earlier in the day on a slow grill. Depending on how much you want to spend, a tenderloin roast beef is easy and delicious. Can even be done ahead and served at room temp or cold with a horseradish or mustard cream sauce. Love sirloin and rib roasts. You can equally feed a crowd with a large, tied chuck roast that's been rubbed, seared and braised beforehand, then grilled to finish it off.

                            I also love the butterflied leg of lamb. Feeds a lot and is easy to marinate ahead and grill. Also can be served at room temp. Your apps can be hummus & pita chips or garlic dip.

                            Can also do a cuban roast pork, by marinating a pork shoulder or "Boston Butt" roast ahead and baking in the oven all morning, then shred the meat and crisp up on grill or broiler for carnitas, served with taco accompaniments, or dry rub it first, then toss shredded meat w/your fave bbq sauce for pulled pork. Serve on mini buns on the pontoon for your app.

                            1. My suggestion would be flank steak. It grills up fast and it is tasty when cut across the grain. If you need to strech it then you can provide wrap fixings, so they can be kind of fajita like.

                              1. So how was the vacation and the dinner what did you finally do???

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wineman3

                                  Hi all. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back here with a report.

                                  For the pontoon booze-cruise I made a hot buffalo chicken dip served with Frito Scoops and celery. I really like the coolness and crunch of the celery contrasted with the warmth and "heat" of the dip. People were licking the dish clean.

                                  We ended up going with flank steak and chicken breast fajitas (marinated over night) for the dinner. We served them with several kinds of salsas and rice. We also had a few salads and some fresh "tropical" fruit. Brownies, Choc. chips and Nanaimo bars for dessert. Margaritas and beer...of course! They were a hit. Thanks to everyone for your help.

                                  As a thank you to those that contributed:

                                  Here is a recipe that I had used for one of the "salsas". Folks really liked it because it was unusual. I've always loved green sauce but had no idea how it was made. Easier to make than I would have thought.

                                  Green Sauce for Fajitas (or whatever)

                                  6 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
                                  1 small serrano chiles, stemmed, add more to taste
                                  2 ripe avocados peeled & seeded
                                  1⁄2 cup sour cream
                                  1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

                                  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add tomatillos and serrano chiles and cook until tender, 8–10 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a blender. Mash avocadoes and mix well. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in sour cream, cilantro, and salt to taste. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

                                  It has a little kick that creeps up on you and a nice freshness!