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side dish for 60 x3 days, camping out

Big family reunion coming up in August at dude ranch type of place near Durango. Our part of feeding the masses is to provide a non-salad "side dish" for 60 people between the ages of one and eighty-five, very few of which I'd call chowhounds, for dinner for three nights.

Kitchen amenities will probably be minimal, likewise refrigerator/freezer space. We will be driving there from two states away, which kills most any idea of preparing something ahead and freezing it.

Side dish ideas and links to a similar topic in Chow would be much appreciated! So far I'm thinking grilled corn on the cob and chilaquiles, and then my brain shuts down and I go into a low-level panic, which doesn't help at all.

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  1. For that many people, given your constraints, I would stick with basic, simple, tried-and-true. I would think corn on the cob for 60 would take up a lot of space and be a real drag to prepare. Think about shucking 60-100 ears of corn, then the space you would need to grill it (unless you know there will be a pit and all the other things you would need to do a proper corn roast). Also, the space it would take up in your vehicle to get it there! But you could use the corn off the cob to make a succotash, or corn and black beans, or a corn pudding. Or how about baked beans? You said no salads, but does that include pasta salad? Panzanella? Most summer side dishes that I think of for summer are called "salad" but aren't your lettuce - cucumber - tomato - with dressing dishes. If there is plenty of grill space, you could bring a bunch of different vegetables which you could then chop up and skewer, season simply and grill. Potatoes and onions, chopped, wrapped in foil or placed in a large pan and cooked on the grill. I would fight the urge to go too "out there" for a gathering like this.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lisavf

      I don't even know if i'll have an oven at my disposal, or microwave either, so there goes the corn pudding. I wouldn't shuck the corn, either- just dunk in salt water and throw on a grill, the only thing is that it takes a long time to cook that way. Flip side- it stays hot a long time too. Great point on the sheer volume of corn being an issue!
      This group has a wide definition of salad- many of which I would consider dessert, so if it looks like a salad to them somebody's going to complain about having too many salads (which to me is impossible). The more I think about it the more depressed I get. I'd rather think in terms of quality than quantity but volume is going to be the order of the day.

      Baked beans (warmed up, at least) is good.

      1. re: EWSflash

        Baked Beans was my answer as soon as I read the post. I would skip making them and just get some canned in the large restaurant size cans. I like Bush's. They can be doctored up some or served cold. Unopened cans can be kept chilled if there is a stream near the camping area. Since they are canned, they don't have to be ice cold and even room temp tastes good. Many New Englanders eat cold baked beans.

    2. Two ideas that are easy to make and to store in Ziplocks or containers: One is to make a side dish of grape or cherry tomatoes and mozzarella dice or small balls, dress with EVOO, s and p and some chiffonade of fresh basil at the last minute, have it pre-cut. The other always disappears the minute after I put it on the table, and it's good for non meat eaters, too. Cook and chill some cheese tortellini and add some halved cherry or grape tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives and feta cheese, EVOO s and p. Or just some EVOO, s and p and again, chiffonade of basil. Both store and travel very well.

      1. I'm wondering if you could make a solar rice cooker -- pretty cheap for supplies, a corrugated cardboard box and a bunch of aluminum foil, can find directions on the internet. Then you could just pack up dry rice, maybe a couple of tablespoons of a dried herb mix and bouillon powder, add water when you get there. No electricity or refrigeration needed. Just time and sunshine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: weezycom

          I like the grain idea. Easy to transport. Couscous cooks in a heart beat. Quinoa and white rice are both pretty fast.

          Not knowing the kitchen logistics makes this very tricky

          1. re: weezycom

            Nice idea on the solar cooking! Here is link if you want to build one. Buying one retail will set you back around $130 - $150 from what I found. It sounds like the guidelines as to what constitutes a salad are pretty restrictive. Would it be possible to precook a lot of potatoes and take them with you? What about roasting veggies ahead of time and serving them @ room temp? Make at home, then take tabouli could work. Would your family be open to soup as a side dish? Pasta is an easy side dish. Even with no oven, you could boil water over an open flame.....

          2. "Kitchen amenities will probably be minimal, likewise refrigerator/freezer space"

            Can you contact the dude rance in CO to ask about the cooking facilities? Knowing the logistics would be worth whatever hassle you might have in trying to get this information. If you learn there is a commercial oven but you need to bring your own pans, fine. At least you know there are cooking facilities for you. Trying to wing this is a very tough call. I think you'll be happier with some concrete information.

            I'll disagree slightly about freezing something and transporting it to the site. Dry ice could be your new best friend!

            Find out what's available and get back to us. My money says the CH community will come up with three winnahs for your family reunion.

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