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Jun 3, 2011 06:29 AM

Cooking for 14 - menu check and seeking advice?

On Sunday, I have to cook for 14 people! B-day party for my host. Menu will be chicken Parmesan (I am confident about it) with Batali's tomato sauce (except I'm going to add olives) and a side of pasta with the tomato sauce. Salad with a honey mustard vinaegrette. Dessert will probably be a crumbled-oreo with vanilla icecream and a toffee disc.

What do you guys and gals think about this menu? I'm all ears. My reason for going with the honey-mustard dressing (shallots, mustard, red wine vin, EVOO) is because it's sweet and this will contrast with the saltiness of the Chicken Parm. Is there a cheese I could toss with the salad too - feta?

lso, I'm a bit nervous about having to cook a rather tedious main course in such large quantities. I am planning on starting the tomato sauce tomorrow so that I don't have to worry. Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks for your input!!

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  1. Sounds delicious...i'd add either another main or side dishes or some appetizers.

    1. Chicken Parm for 14???? That sounds like a HUGE task. It also sounds like you're preparing or at least cooking this at the host's home? Tomato sauce on both the chicken and the pasta could be a tad overwhelming. Could you plate the Parm on top of the pasta maybe? Hopefully you'll get lots of suggestions. That 14 number is still of concern. When I'm serving large #s like that, it's usually some huge hunk of a hooved animal :) Re salad I LOVE arugula. That slight bitterness offsets richness perfectly IMO. Good luck and have fun.

      2 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        Hey c oliver, thanks. I will be cooking it in her home, which is where I live. Also, unfortunately, I don't have much choice regarding the choice of animal because she loves chicken parm and wants it on her b-day!

        Regarding plating, that's a good idea to plate it on top of the pasta.

        I am afraid of the #14 but I think if I start the sauce today, prepare the chicken tomorrow and that leaves only the breading and sauteeing and baking on the day of, that should be manageable.

        I just can't get my head around how to adapt my ingredients for these huge portions. For example, that's a lot of dressing I'm going to have to make!

        1. re: xiaobao12

          Sounds good. Do you have enough pans for cooking that much chicken? Or can you borrow some? Then you get into plates, flatware, glasses etc. I served 20+ seated for a luncheon some years ago and picked up crazy cheap champagne flutes at Walmart.

          Escondido's ratios sound good and you can always tweak once you get it made.

      2. I think your salad would be better without cheese since there is so much in the main course. As to the vinaigrette, if you get a good size jar and do 3/4 c EVOO, 1/4 c. vinegar, along with 4 shallots and a T of honey mustard--plas S&P--I think you should be pretty close to what you need.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          Thanks for your measurements escondi. Gonna use a yogurt bin as I don't have any glass jars!

        2. As Monica mentioned, I think it's a good idea to put out some finger food while you're preparing the parm.

          If you do thinner slices of chicken breast, the cooking could actually go very quickly, especially if you can get 2 or 3 pans going at the same time. If you're planning to plate all at the same time, preheat the oven to 450 so, keep a broiler pan or baking sheet in there and let it heat up, and just refresh/reheat the chicken for about 7 minutes right before serving. The high heat will help keep the breading crisp.

          Are you going to boil the pasta in advance?

          5 Replies
          1. re: inaplasticcup

            Thanks for the advice re keeping it crisp and heated.

            I will be boiling the pasta right before serving - there is no other way is there?

            I'm going to make the sauce right now! 212 ounces of canned tomatoes!!

            1. re: xiaobao12

              Well, ideally, it's nice to be able to boil the pasta right before serving...

              But if cooking for this many people is a new experience for you, and there's a possibility that just tending to that much frying chicken will frazzle your nerves, it's totally OK to boil your pasta (before you start the frying process to just under al dente), toss it in some olive oil so it won't stick, put it in an oven safe dish, and reheat it with the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes in the oven. Reheat the sauce over the stove about 15 minutes before you're ready to plate.

              That way, you can take everything out, pasta on the left, chicken in the middle, sauce on the right, and make an assembly line of it so that everyone's getting hot food roughly at the same time.

              By the way, 212 ounces is a lot of tomatoes, imo. I usually get 5 or 6 servings out of a 26 oz can of crushed tomatoes. But perhaps your guests will like a lot of sauce, and you can always freeze the rest. :)

              1. re: xiaobao12

                To make things easier, see this thread:
                I assume you are cooking 2 or 3 pounds of dried pasta. You can do it all at once in an 8qt pot.

                1. re: greygarious

                  thanks inaplastic and greyg!

                  greyg, that thread you pointed me to made have saved me. I was thinking about how I could cook 4 boxes of pasta with only one pretty big pasta pot I have. But I will do attempt to do this on Sunday with this method, using thin spaghetti.

                  1. re: xiaobao12

                    you might want to use a slightly thicker pasta noodle. it would hold up better.

            2. If in-season melons are available, wedges of prosciutto-wrapped honeydew would be a nice start to your meal.