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Nice meal to share with family - Rehersal dinner

I'm thinking of making something nice for the family for our rehearsal dinner in November. What do you think I should make? We have around 12-15 people.

maybe some fish or something like an entire tenderloin (lamb, pork or beef).
or a braised meat thing that can be quickly finished/sear in the pan/oven?
I am thinking of easy-medium as far as fussiness, after all, i got to get ready in the morning..

a starch to go with this dish? I'm thinking pasta, is that tacky? I can make some tortellinis...

I'll make a nice soup or something to start. Moms like soups...

any interesting ideas you have lately is welcome! Thanks!!
Restaurants are just not that great in my area... unless we get a taco truck =)

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  1. First, congratulations!

    A braise would be nice because so many of them are better reheated so you could make it a day or two before. You might want to browse the COTM threads from when we did Molly Stevens' All Arout Braising to see if anything appeals. Here is the master: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3301...

    You could likewise roast a beef tenderloin the day before or morning of and slice and serve it cold with horseradish sauce, accompanied by wild rice pilaf with mushrooms, leeks and diced carrots (veggies prepped day before or that morning) and a salad with pomegranates (in season then) and toasted pecans. If that appeals, it would be worth ordering your wild rice from this place, it is the real deal and MILES better than what you can buy at the store. http://www.christmaspoint.com/

    Whatever you decide, make it really easy on yourself and accept all offers of help. Believe me, you will be overwhelmed with everything you have to do at that point!

    1. Are you planning on doing a buffet or having everyone around a table passing food? Any vegetarians? I'd be hesitant to do any big roasts because the timing needs and the fact that you can't make them ahead of time. Also, the time it will take to slice those suckers for 12-15. I agree with Gretchen to go for a nice braised meat. Then your starch can be rice, pasta or potatoes that's just tossed in a little butter and parsley. Add a green salad and maybe go crazy on the dessert with a tiramisu.

      1. Another idea is a whole poached salmon -- a friend does one covered with overlapping thinly sliced cucumbers for a really nice presentation, and a dill sauce on the side. It can be done in advance and served cold or at room temperature. For November a braise might be nicer, but if you're doing soup as a starter, this might be a good contrast.

        1. I agree with Gretchen. Go for a braise like Chicken Cacciatore or Swiss Steak or maybe short ribs. A little fancier than a pot roast but still easy. Comfort foods always put people at ease. They are stressing, too.

          Serve it with pasta or potatoes. You could mash the potatoes or bake them or roast them. Even a gratin. I would go with mashed potatoes but because it is somewhat festive, maybe garlic mashed potatoes.

          1. I have had two rehearsal dinner and had a hand in another one in the last couple of years. We tried on all three to have them be casual, sort of opposite of the wedding. You don't want to compete with the wedding. You will be amazed how busy you are that day and really for the days ahead. Each one was for 35 people.
            The first was for my sister's son. She semi catered. We have really good Italian place that made a couple of big trays of baked pasta and a really great salad. We made desserts and had drinks. (Beer, wine and margaritas) She had tables inside and out. I left the rehearsal early to set up and heat the pasta.
            The next one was pulled pork from a local BBQ place that is really good. We bought by the pound and bought our own bread and made our sides which could be anything made well ahead. Desserts were bite sized pastries from the French bakery, not quite to our theme but it was what the bride liked. We had Beer wine and plantation punch in antique wide mouth canning jars. We had candles hanging in the trees and all over the yard.
            The last one we did was Kabobs that our local butcher shop makes up very reasonably. They were beef tenderloin and I got them unseasoned. We had red potatoes cut up and roasted with onions and rosemary, a huge green salad. My BIL grilled the Kabobs while we were gone to the rehearsal. The dessert(they wanted a grooms cake) was twinkie tiramisu that we made ahead and assembled into a twinkie wedding cake. We had a big table (two together)for the wedding party and spouses and had end to end folding tables for the rest of the guests. I collected stray sugar bowls from thrift shops and made small arrangement of flowers at all the tables and old pattern glass and hurricane lamps too for lots of candles. We used glass votives from Walmart Don't forget the music.
            Usually I make everything I serve but it was great to say to one of the kids Go pick up the (Meat, dessert, whatever) and not have to worry about those parts of the meal.