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Feeding a Bunch of Guys

I'm in the mood to cook a large amount of something this weekend and I thought it would be fun to bring in some lunch to the office on Monday to feed the guys I work with. Sort of as a thank you for all the coffees they've treated me to over time, and also because they're pretty much a captive audience!

Inspiration is not striking so I thought I'd solicit some suggestions. It would have to be something fairly safe (their usual lunch involves some sort of 'asian' teriyaki with rice, so not the most adventurous of palates) and something I could easily lug to work on public transit and preferably serve room temperature (perhaps with the option to microwave).

I'd like to push them out of their comfort zone a little, but not too much. If I can incorporate ingredients from local farmer's markets (I'm in Toronto, Ontario) that would be great too.

I'd be feeding around 8 people, and pork and beef are off-limits.

Any ideas?

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  1. Since the guys like chicken....how about a Latin inspired baked cut up chicken with rice and beans? Garlic, salt and pepper......simple.....less is more approach. Maybe with some tomato sauce(Spanish style). Vegetables or salad optional.


    As I am responding to this topic......I am patiently awaitng for my Beer Can Chicken to finish cooking in 15 minutes.

    6 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      second fourunder, (golf much?) but with a twist;
      baked chicken adobo filipino/spanish style
      with fresh ciabatta bread and a few bricks of diff't cheeses and wine...oh right, this is for work meals, ok, not AS perfect harmony but still a tasty meal
      can also do;
      cous cous, I like the curry one, mild but flavorful
      heat olive oil, add shitake mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, mmm 10 minutes ish
      Mix. eat. oh, no don't eat. save for work lunch.

      1. re: foodlvrzen


        If you go to this post, it explains how I came to use this moniker: It's in a response to Veggo on June 9th @ 7:46 near the bottom. Only if you are curious of course.



        Along the lines of tacos, salads and such.....plus your preference to incorporate some farmers market items. How about Falafel in Pita Bread. You can dice up tomatoes, cucumbers and onions....maybe have some frisee or mesculin greens too. Serve with Tzatziki sauce.

        The guys can make their own sandwiches and include only the items they like.

        1. re: fourunder

          well of course I had to read it...(mutters, could have done with the abbreviated version....grrrr....trying to shake off a glazed stupor.....kidding, I now know more than I ever imagined about salamanders and broilers....zzzzz :-P
          and, not too shabby on the golfing, well done

          back to business; it occurs to me that many of us seem to have zoomed in on "something fairly safe" and overlooked the "push them out of their comfort zone; and enjoy a challenge in the kitchen"; so with a new perspective, how about these ideas:
          italian: zuppa di pesce...add crockpot idea
          eggplant rollatini

          spanish: paella or jambalaya, minus sausage...with crockpot

          greek: chicken kebab,
          mousaka - eggplant, potato & ground turkey (sub for beef)
          casserole, baked in tomato sauce and cheese;
          topped with a cream and grated cheese sauce;
          serve on bed of basmati rice

          indian: chicken biranyi

          smoked trout with interesting sides

          and, is lamb acceptable? because then a whole new chapter opens....!

          1. re: foodlvrzen

            Love the jambalaya idea. It's a little more work in the crockpot than one would think, tho.

            Depending on your version, I would make sure to brown all meats & vegs first, b/c the vegs don't cook down they way they should for a jambalaya on that low heat in a crockpot. I stick to my Dutch oven & it comes out great everytime.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              sorry sorry, casual wording there;
              meant to cook those things and just transfer to crockpot for travel/warming
              wow though, now I will try it in a crockpot, thx!

              1. re: foodlvrzen

                Oh, okay. Yes, you can try the jambalaya in the crockpot, but I think my Dutch oven version has a lot more flavor, since everything is cooked in the one pot. And crockpots tend to water down everything, so extra salt, spice is needed.

    2. What about grilled sliced chicken dish and salad bar type lunch. You can marinate chicken cutlets in a lemon/oregano/olive oil marinade, grill and slice. Serve room temp or even cold. Alongside the chicken, containers of cherry tomatoes, chickpea salad, lots of shredded lettuce, good olives, maybe some feta cheese. Pack individual containers of dressing and serve alongside the salad bar. Also, grill some local veggies- maybe some zucchini and eggplant.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cheesecake17

        Sounds good, ccake, but this for 8 GUYS. Most men are not filled up by chicken & salad.

        You can bake some homemade bread to go along with the above.

        How about an orzo salad, served room temp, with roasted peppers, feta, olives, red onions, etc. in it. Can also put grilled, sliced chicken on top of that.

        Or you can make a pressed sandwich the night before. Learn with their favorite fillings are. Buy a round loaf of good country bread. Slice in half horizontally, then pull out some of the filling. Spread with condiments (mayo, mustard, boursin cheese, goat cheese, chimichurri dressing are some ideas), layer with meat & cheeses, (turkey & chicken, I guess?) vegetables (tomato, onion, lettuces, arugula, olive salad, sprouts are some suggestions) and top with the top bread. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil. Put in fridge overnight with a plate and a large can on top to weight it. Bring it to work the next day and slice large wedges to your coworkers. Can be served cold, but better a room temp.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          You're so right about the 8 GUYS comment. It's amazing how much they can put away...

          Orzo salad is a good suggestion and something I make often. I like it with feta, green onions, olives, parsley, and pine nuts - and of course plenty of olive oil and some lemon. Never thought to add chicken, but that could make it more hefty. If I end up going with this, they'd freak at the pine nuts, but tough!

          1. re: Phurstluv

            I was kind of thinking of that as a staring point. An orzo salad would be a good addition. Also, an option of grilled chicken or grilled tofu, if some don't eat meat. Homemade bread is good, or use pizza dough to make grilled onion foccacia..

        2. If you have room for refigeration, how about chicken fajitas? You can marinate the b/s less chicken in a combo of Coca Cola, soy sauce, Lea & Perrins, lime juice and sherry layered with sliced raw onion. Grill chicken, slice when rested, and saute onions. Refrigerate. Next day, warm up chicken & onions, some flour tortillas and serve with small bowls of salsa, avocado slices, shredded cheese, chopped black olives and sour cream. Everyone loves dishes they can "make" on their own.

          1. Thanks for the suggestions so far - I should mention that 'simple' is not necessarily a requirement, I enjoy a challenge in the kitchen...

            They all like pizza (who doesn't). Maybe some sort of tart? It would have to be somewhat substantial though..

            It's funny that I'm so stumped. I never usually have trouble coming up with things to cook!

            3 Replies
            1. re: dxs

              tart???? for lunch??? be substantial??? for group of guys???? you've GOT to be joking.... ah ha....rolling on the floor....gasp.... have to leave that one alone....did you do that on purpose!!

              you can get fresh pizza dough from a pizzeria or grocery, and make a variety of calzones; remember extra sauce on the side though! dry calzones are not for all
              shame it's no beef, could have made cornish pasties

              1. re: foodlvrzen

                Ha, I was only half joking about the tart! I don't necessarily want to cook exactly what they want. I want to get them to try something new while still satisfying their 'guy' appetites.

                They would actually get a kick out of the word 'tart', which is why it occurred to me in the first place.

                1. re: dxs

                  Going along with your "tart" idea, you could make a pizza rustica and call it a tart. Double crust pie filled with meats and cheeses. Use a spicy turkey sausage and turkey "ham" instead of the usual meats, lots if cheese. I would layer in some spinach and maybe zuchini as well. Serve room temp with a side of green salad.

            2. How about pulled chicken tacos? I make them by poaching the chicken in a good mexican type beer with lots of cilantro and garlic, salt and pepper. Then when fully cooked I let them rest and then pull the meat with two forks. Top them with a cole slaw made from fresh veggies, a little mayo, lime juice, more cilantro, avocado...and of course some cheese in tortillas....very good-and very easy to transport!

              4 Replies
              1. re: fmcoxe6188

                Something like this could work, and I have a source for fresh made tortillas... would you use dark or white meat for this? And would it suffer much from omitting the beer? (should have mentioned above that booze is a no-no).

                1. re: dxs

                  You don't have to use beer, tho the alcohol will cook off. Poach in chicken stock instead. I don't make pulled chicken, but I would use the dark meat, for more flavor & fat. And I would mix it with bbq sauce, a la pulled pork, but that's just me! Seems like a lot of condiments to cart on the bus tho!

                  You must work with Muslims! My uncle lives up in the Ottawa region. A large Muslim population up there!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Ah yes- stock would definitely work just as well...or- for a different spin- tea would also be good. Ive made this using all white meat, as well as a mix between white and dark- so either would definitely work. The dark will definitely pick up the fat content and add a deeper flavor...

                  2. re: dxs

                    You could also grill or smoke chicken leg quarters. That's how I do pulled chicken, and it develops a beautiful color and the crispiest skin ever. Leg quarters are super inexpensive, as a bonus.

                2. An entire crockpot of barbeque chicken might fit the bill with sides of rolls and coleslaw and/ or orzo salad. Easy enough to do...pull the meat off 1 or 2 rotissierie chickens (or make them yourself the day before)...put into crockpot with sauteed chopped onion, a little vinegar and a lot of barbeque sauce...let that all cook for a few hours, then serve with the rolls & sides. I did this for work a few months ago and everyone really liked it.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Val

                    You're reheating rotisserie chicken in the crockpot? Is it on low? For a few hours? Never heard of anyone doing this.

                    May fit the bill but is it portable? Just heat up the chicken in the mic first?

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      LOLZ...I got the idea for it right here on Chowhound--I think it was in a thread about leftover chicken & how to use it! Yes, the crockpot is on low. (well, okay...I had mine on high for the first hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. then on low til around noontime) You do need to check it every so often to stir and see if you need more sauce. It needs time to "cook down" and then it tastes pretty good on the little rolls.

                      1. re: Val

                        Okay, then, I will take your word for it. I've never thought to do that, but sounds like it would work!

                  2. You could do some empanadas, if you want to make the dough or have a source for the wrappers. I don't make the dough myself - usually buy it at an Argentian market. But I know you said you were looking for a challenge. You could make the filling chicken or even find a ground beef recipe and sub ground chicken/turkey. The filling on this one looks great but I'd do a different dough.

                    There are many basic empanada dough recipes. Also, when I make them, I bake instead of fry. They will be very portable, guys *LOVE* them, and you could serve with salad or a veggie and some sauces to dip them in.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: amyvc

                      Good idea, amyvc!! Love empanadas!

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        Although the ones I've had always have beef or pork in them. Guess you could do chicken?

                      2. re: amyvc

                        This is an intriguing idea. I've never made empanadas so it will definitely be a welcome challenge - and I may be able to get actual empanada dough locally. Plus, it will eliminate the need for cutlery! Always a bonus. I liked the idea of cornish pasties above too, this may be a bit more doable.

                        Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!

                      3. Maybe stick with Asian, but higher quality stuff:
                        peanut noodles
                        summer rolls with shrimp or tofu, crunchy vegetables and fresh cilantro and basil and a dipping sauce
                        lettuce wraps with minced shrimp, chicken or tofu
                        chicken satay

                        All pretty good at room temp as well....

                        1. A lot of people are rec'ing seafood or fish, which would require poor dxs to cart a cooler on public transportation. Not fun! Maybe you could get a ride to work that day?!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Phurstluv

                            I own neither a crockpot nor a cooler :)

                            I think I've narrowed it down to the empanada genre - just have to figure out the fillings now. Luckily we have a market here in Toronto that has plenty of latin-focused stores, so I should be able to come up with something...

                            And I may even go with some sort of middle eastern inspired filling, still using empanada dough. I definitely like the idea of self-contained food for this particular project.

                            1. re: dxs

                              The recipe that I linked above feels sort-of middle eastern to me. And it's with chicken. But yes, you could sub ground turkey/chicken for the beef. Glad I could help. The filling can be time-consuming and so can the dough. I know I've made the filling a day before and then baked them the next.

                              Good luck - hope it goes well. Now I'm craving empanadas too! DH is fixin' to enjoy some empanadas!

                          2. I still trying to figure out how you're going to bring any of this for 8 people (including yourself) on public transporation.

                            I've made burritos for my husbands work. I made them in the morning and he brough them in hot. I have a pretty nice bag that has a place for warm or cold packs, and its insulated. It keeps the food nice and warm for quite some time. I'd bring sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, lettuce,cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. So the veggie part would be cool and crisp.

                            1. you mentioned the pizza idea. make your own crust, get fresh veggies from the market and do unique flavors.

                              another idea: calzones or chicken empanadas.