One-pot Christmas dinner
I need to come up with a menu for 18 people to be prepared in just a few hours. I will not have time to prep the day before. I was thinking about a one-pot dish, but anything interesting and somewhat easy will do. Any ideas? A few of my guests are not fish eaters.
Spatchcocked chicken, Roasted w/ cloves of garlic and as many fresh herbs as you can lay hands on, in a fairly high oven to start; then turned down; roasted w/ whatever small potatoes look good (halved, tossed w/ a bit of oil, s&p and served with creme fraiche.) Shredded braised Brussels sprouts done with a bit of bacon and braised. Squeeze of lemon to finish the chicken. You can always roast sprouts with some pancetta too, if you'd rather not deal with the prep. of shredding; just toss them in with the potatoes etc. Purchased bread with good butter; use the cloves of garlic as an app spread on the bread. Something from a good bakery with Pears and nuts; or maybe a mocha buche de Noel since you've got a few folks to serve there.
But this should all come together in waaaaay under three hours. Whatever you decide to do, Happy Holidays!
I love the idea of roast chicken, but to serve 18 people, you'd have to roast about 6 standard sized ones or 4 extra large ones, then make a ton of sides to go with. And even with double ovens, which not everyone has, that will take way more than 3 hours.
If you have room, you can oven-braise a couple of large briskets, with lots of onions. Mashed potatoes, for an army, can go with. And a huge spinach salad to offset the richness. Actually the brisket recipe I have calls for 6 hours, but is unattended.
Or how about a couple of large dutch ovens of jambalayas? Those serve a lot of people and it's one stop - no other veggies or starch required. Use smoked sausage and chicken legs instead of any that call for seafood. All you need to round it out is some good quality bread to serve with it. Can be done in three hours total. I have a tried & true recipe if you need it.
Another idea is a batch or two of chili. You can make one vegetarian, one with meat and beans. Again, don't need much else to round it out except bread or rice, maybe some toppings set up like a "toppings bar" - cheese, sour cream, avocados, scallions, onions, hot sauces. The chili can be made a few days ahead, even better that way.
Or crockpot a couple of pork shoulder roasts, again can be done a couple of days ahead. Shred the meat, discard the bones & fat, mix with your favorite bbq sauce and serve pulled pork mini sliders, with small buns/rolls, a large bowl of coleslaw, and maybe a large pan of macaroni & cheese. Or do a Mexican spin on the braised pork shoulder, and serve it with tortillas, beans, and make a taco bar, again with all the fixings. The meat itself can be made a few days ahead, then reheat however is convenient for you, and use your 3 hours to make the fixings instead.
Good luck whatever you decide on!!
We usually make a hash Christmas day and serve with eggs and hollandaise. Alton Brown has a great corned beef hash on the web.
Short ribs, noodles, salad, sourdough bread/toast. Short ribs best made early to scoop off congealed fat and absorb seasoning. Buy bread pudding and serve with ice cream.
Can you do any cooking ahead of time. If you made like a beouf bourginion or a chicken stew, you could freeze them ahead of time and just reheat with some bread and assemble a salad.
Maybe it's too obvious, but given your time constraints and the number of people you are hosting, I'd serve a spiral sliced ham. You can serve an army off of one (or 2, if you want to be sure to have plenty). While it's in the oven cooking, make either macaroni & cheese or scallopped potatoes. Serve with a green salad and some dinner rolls (homemade if you have the time, otherwise bakery bought).