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I don't want to be the mom who always brings the salad...

My son plays on a college football team and for home games the parents put together a post-game buffet. There are the usual suspects like baked ziti, sausage & peppers, giant taco salads. My latest contribution was caesar salad. My son said "I bet my mom made the salad because she can't really cook." While not entirely true, I haven't produced anything that makes anyone say "Wow, who made that?", nor have the pans I've brought been emptied. I'm looking for a little help.

There are a couple of tricky points: one is that if it's a hot dish it has to stay hot for several hours (like at least 4) or easily rewarm on chafing dishes after halftime. The other is that while it's not the only thing feeding the team, the quantity needs to be a little higher. Probably a pretty hefty half-size chafing pan. Lastly, we leave in the morning so I need make-ahead or something that can be pulled together pretty easily on a Saturday morning. See why I ended up with caesar salad?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions you can provide.

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  1. Take a round, unsliced bread loaf and lop off the top... low enough so that the "lid" is almost the diameter of the bread. Scoop out the soft bread interior by hand. Squirt some Italian salad dressing in the bottom, or layer with a chopped olive salad. Layer your choice of deli meats, cheeses, thinly sliced and peeled cucumber, tomotoes, etc., more Italian dressing, etc. Put the lid on and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Put a weight on top and refigerate for a couple hours, to overnight. Slice into wedges to serve... an electric knife is best for the slicing. Make two, or more if you plan to serve a crowd.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DigitalVelvet

      Perfect, a muffuletta style pressed sandwich. These are crowd pleasers.

    2. Offer to bring the bread!

      OK: seriously this is a job for a slow-cooker (notice I did not call it a crock-pot because that is SO-O-O 80's) Then you can put together your Adobo Pork stew (the hockey team I had to cook for loved this), or your chili or your beans etc. the night before, let it do its thing overnight, grab it while it is still hot, secure in carboard box and plug back in as soon as you get there.

      Good luck with this, but, for the record, I think Caesar Salad is a great contribution.

      1. I also see nothing wrong with Caesar salad (especially if others are contributing more "main dish" type things) but you might want to take a page from the book of the other contributors and think about pasta/casserole type things. If you have an insulated bag to store it in, generally anything that is put into the bag hot will stay hot for a good long while, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

        Some of my recipes that can be made in large pans and have been crowd pleasers in the past are lasagna (not the fancy Bolognese kind, but my mom's old American recipe with tons of ground beef and mozzarella), enchiladas (either as a layered casserole or as individually rolled pieces), stuffing (the one I make for thanksgiving could be an entree on its own but makes a nice side dish - has tons of roasted vegetables, sausage and of course bread), lentils with sausage (this can be served hot, cold or at room temp, so very versatile) and of course beef stew/chili type things. As long as the pan fits in your fridge, any of these can be made the night before and either baked off or reheated the morning of.

        ETA: The crockpot suggestions above are great and if you have one that has a removable ceramic liner, you don't even need to bring the electric part - the liner will keep the contents hot for a while!

        2 Replies
        1. re: biondanonima

          Devilled eggs are usually popular. If you don't have a good transporting container, put the filling in a baggie and when you get to the venue, snip off a corner so you can pipe the fillling into the cooked whites on a tray. Some hot finger foods like pigs in blankets and chicken nuggets might be appreciated.

          If you don't have an insulated bag, a hot pan wrapped in newspapers and blankets, then placed in a cooler will stay hot for a long time. You can take along some of those chemical-reaction handwarmer packets and put them inside the cooler if the food temp starts to get too low.

          1. re: greygarious

            I have to agree. Find a good devilled egg recipe - they go like a hot damn :-) I learned this over the summer when I found myself with no time to put something spectacular together for a potluck so opted for devilled eggs. There wasn't a single one left.

        2. Maybe Stromboli? If you're pushed for time, you could use the kind of bread dough that comes in a can, or the frozen kind, thaw, and layer with meats and cheeses. Fold over or braid, paint with an eggwash, and bake. Could be briefly re-heated - even a chafing dish would work - or served sliced at room temperature. Another option might be a great big pot of taco meat, with a stack of tortillas (which again can be warmed in a chafing dish) and a one-stop salsa instead of all the usual individual condiments: cubed tomatoes, avocado, diced onion, cilantro, olives,and lime juice and cumin, s&p, all mixed together and allowed to blend. My son's teams loved this one.

          1. Sausage & Peppers is my go to. I get the sausage at Costco, get some jarred sauce (Costco or whatever is on sale), Peppers & Onions. I brown the sausages the night before (all laid out on an electric griddle - not cooked all the way through, just enough to crisp up the outside). The next morning I put a jar of sauce in a HUGE pot, then the peppers & onions, then more sauce, then the sausage, then more sauce. And simmer for at least 4 hours (which is the only downfall since you leave in the morning - unless you just don't go to bed). About an hour after it start boiling slow, I'll taste the sauce and add some red wine, parsely, garlic, etc (italian stuff I have laying around). It's easy to keep warm and won't dry out and tastes great (I just cooked up a bunch for a wedding shower).