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Jul 4, 2011 12:00 PM

Cabin Cooking for 30- Need menu inspiration

We go to a cottage every year with about 30 folks. (Half of which are teens.) We split into groups and cook for the others one night. We do the main dish, the sides and the dessert. Everyone brings an appetizer to share over the 3 days. Grilling is our main method of cooking.

I was thinking of grilling salmon this year as it is tasty, reasonably priced and fast cooking. However, not everyone likes fish so I need some complimentary or other ideas. I could get shot down on the fish thing. Maybe a a whole beef tenderloin that we can slice up?

Or we could grill some tasty sausages? Pork tenderloins (teriyaki) maybe? Last year we did flank steak but the host pre-sliced it before cooking and it wasn't an ideal situation...for one thing, it took forever. It also got a bit dry. (Not the way I would have approached it of course. Cook it whole and slice it afterwards is the way to do it. Just trying to be a gracious guest here...)

Although ribs seem ideal to me, there is some problem disposing of the bones in this very rural area. Perhaps they attract bears? Burgers are out. We don't want to be making 60 burgers before hand. (I don't like those pre-made hockey pucks you get at warehouse stores either.) Last year we made fajitas: chicken and beef and I made a yummy tomatillo/guacamole salsa and a Mexican-style cocktail camarones (shrimp cocktail).

I have considered making a pot of jambalaya-ish something or other. I could do this ahead and make rice on the kitchen stove. Serve corn muffins etc on the side.

I sometimes try to think up a theme (Greek etc.) and build on that idea. I will have team members but they aren't all foodies or that experienced in the kitchen.

In the past I have made a fresh corn salad with green beans, grape tomatoes and basil (Fine Cooking). Possibly reprise a tortellini-feta-sun dried toms salad too. I'm all about fresh and light but am not opposed to comfort food.

The other thing we do is bring an appetizer for a meandering-sunset-pontoon-cocktail cruise. I might do shrimp with a Thai dipping sauce also from Fine Cooking. I have done the buffalo chicken dip before and it was well-loved.

I know I've thrown out a lot of thoughts here. I've said enough and would love to hear your thoughts.

So, if you had 30 hungry souls to cook for what would you make? It's a fun weekend and we want to feed everyone well.

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  1. Porchetta. Use the entire middle, starting from the loin and all the way down to where the belly end on that half of the pig. You can wrap ahead of time, leaving you only to roast and slice.

    1. I don't have much of a suggestion except that this same exact question has been posed on another thread.

      Is it possible that someone else in your group is posting on Chowhound too?

      Out of curiosity, what 'very rural area' is it that you will be staying? Unless it is Alaska or grizzly country in the Tetons or the Rockies I would not worry too much about the rib bones. You can always drive a few miles away from your cabin and throw them in the ditch. It really would not even be littering because they're just bones after all. We have a cabin in he woods in northern Minnesota. There are about 25,000 black bears in Minnesota. (We have gone bear hunting but were unauccessful) and we don't worry too much about them. We just don't leave food scraps in trash cans outside.

      7 Replies
      1. re: John E.

        ha, i had the same thought... same group? :)

        don't know if this qualifies as "too much work," but you could grill pizzas. make some dough ahead of time. bring toppings, and prepare to grill there.

        or make some lasagnas or other casseroles ahead of time. freeze and bake there.

        you could also make salmon croquettes (or other fish) ahead of time. freeze and serve with mashed potatoes and grilled or roasted veggies.

        have fun!

        1. re: Emme

          Love pizza on the grill!

          Since the stove is pretty old and not too efficient we usually grill and skip baking anything as it takes forever.

        2. re: John E.

          i assume it's not the same group - this poster is talking about families at a cabin in the mountains, the other thread is about friends sharing a beach house...but interesting coincidence that they're both about cooking for 30 in vacation accommodations!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I'm the one who mentioned woods, not mountains, and while it is unlikely they are part of the same group (I was being facetious) a rural cabin with the possibility of bears and a beach house are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I am not sure I would be a good addition to a vacation like this. A group of 30, half teens, sounds a little chaotic and not relaxing enough for me.

            1. re: John E.

              i actually didn't pick up on your sarcasm - the titles of the threads are sufficiently similar that it would be an easy assumption to make. i've never seen (or heard of) bears at the beach in California, NY, NJ or Florida - which are the primary frames of reference for my experiences - but i have seen my share of bears at rural cabins in the woods & mountains of new England!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                We have lots of bears and beach houses in Minnesota (usually referred to as lake homes) but no mountains. New Jersey actually is over-run with bears. I don't know how many of them show up on the shore however.

          2. re: John E.

            Interesting coincidence but alas not part of the same group. We will be in the wilds of Wisconsin.

            The whole thing about the rib bones came from the host/owner so as a guest, who am I to question his reasons for no ribs?

            Thanks for the reply.

          3. pork or chicken chile verde is amenable to large-batch cooking, and Mexican-style grilled corn (or a salad with those flavors) would be a terrific side dish.

            1. Since it's hot, and most of the 30 will have spent the day at the beach, make several different salads. I would have at least 5 or 6 different types. Some could be rather plain for the picky eaters and some could be very fancy. That would be light and cool, and would be easy to prepare. Have at least a couple with meat for the protein. Serve with different breads and crackers, and have finger foods available such as olives, pickles, chips, cheeses, etc. You could go very gourmet with these. Make a couple of different kinds of cookies at home and freeze to bring with you and serve them with ice cream, or have an ice cream sundae bar. Since there are so many teens in the group, I think "light" would go over very well, and am certain ice cream would be a big hit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: basketwoman

                Actually, we will be at a lake house for a long weekend. It's a fun time and we are crazier than the teens. They end up looking at us like, ..."will you all just settle down now!". I'm sure we embarass them because we have so much fun. Being surrounded by the North Woods, we never know if it will be a nice day or a cool one. We usually have "do it yourself sandwiches" for lunch and then have a big night time meal together after our adult booze cruise around the lake (with some appies, adult bevvies and maybe even a cigar or two).

              2. u can never go wrong with marinated sticky ribs. try something tangier just bring lots of wipeys! and match it with some kinda of matching salsa

                1 Reply
                1. re: astam

                  A couple of legs of lambs, big pot of roasty potatoes, a good salad and all with a greek theme and you all kinds of good things for sandwiches the next day.