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Suggestions: sandwich toppings and side dishes for large group

So...I volunteered to handle dinner Saturday night (2 weeks from now) for a group of a dozen teenagers and parents (about 30 total) at a Marriott Residence Inn. Will have access to the hotel room kitchen (stovetop, microwave, full fridge, but no oven) and an outdoor gas grill. I also have to consider a black pepper allergy, so store bought shortcuts will be tough.

My plan is to cure a fresh ham (city style brine), and a few days beforehand, smoke a turkey and the ham. On Saturday, I'll reheat the meats on the gas grill (glaze the ham then) and make sandwiches.

For the turkey, I was thinking of making a cranberry barbecue sauce and traditional stuffing, to make "Thanksgiving leftovers" sandwiches. I also have home cured bacon, which would go nicely. Any ideas on complementary additional toppings? (Sometimes see cream cheese for Turkey/Cranberry, odd as it seems)...

For the ham, I was figuring on whipping up a quick honey mustard, adding some swiss cheese, maybe caramelized onions. But I'm drawing a blank beyond that. Since both the ham and turkey will be hot, I wanted to stay away from lettuce/tomato.

For side dishes, I was thinking a green salad, cole slaw, and maybe some roasted garlic/rosemary new potatoes. But I'm open to something more interesting, complementary, and easy to prepare in advance and reheat.

Thanks all!

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  1. Use all of what you have already mentioned...but why all the fuss for trying to make a perfect sandwich for all......spread it out on platters and let everyone make their own sandwiches according to their own tastes and preferences..

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      i think leaving the fixings on platters, or chafers, unassembled is a great idea. this way picky eaters can leave off what they don't like.

      i'd add a vegetarian option, like hummus, or roasted veggies, both of which are fine cold, or at room temp.

      i'd skip the cole slaw and add maybe a taboulleh or cous cous+ many herbs salad as a side, plus fruit, brownies and cookies for dessert.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I had not thought about a vegetarian option....but since an outdoor grill is available, I would consider a Grilled Vegetable Platter in addition to what ever else is suggested to the OP's ideas

        Since there is a grill.....why not some burgers and hot dogs too? You can have the unofficial kick-off to the barbecue season.

    2. That sounds great. Since you're having bacon, what about keeping lettuce and tomatoes so people can make BLTs? It would be a nice option for a cold sandwich. Is gravy an option for an open faced turkey sandwich? I find turkey/stuffing sandwiches on the dry side w/out gravy. And, it would go well over potatoes. Honestly, though, I think what you have planned is fine as is. Different breads will make it interesting.

      1. Thanks all. Yes, I will be leaving toppings out for fix your own, I was just listing what I'd be setting out. And I'll be doing a blueberry crisp and brownies for dessert. Like the hummus, grilled vegetables and gravy idea.

        I'm skipping burgers and hot dogs because we always have that (frozen burger patties) - looking to do something else. But I think cous cous/taboulleh is too "out there" for this group.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sbp

          Veteran of many a residence inn here: sounds like you have a lot of slicing to do. Take your own cutting boards!

          Each resident inn kitchen is assigned one small glass cutting board - they don't work well even for cutting up tomatoes.

          1. re: sbp

            Grilled vegetables would be great. If you want to cut down on chopping, even one big portabello mushroom makes for a good ham substitute. You can do oven dried tomatoes in advance, just cut in half.

          2. Just occurred to me - will I be able to FIND fresh cranberries this time of year? (I'm in Suffolk County Long Island). Fairway, maybe? Or will I need to improvise with frozen or preserves?

            2 Replies
            1. re: sbp

              i'd be very surprised if you can still find them. i thought you had some ( like i do, in my freezer.)

              i'm in new england and that kind of turkey sandwich just screams autumn. why not go for something more appropriate to the warm weather? like smoked turkey with avocado, sprouts and goat cheese?

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Good point, but I still have to cater to the crowd - it's not a goat cheese group. I could try sprouts/arugula. But I stopped at fairway and did find some Wild Thymes cranberry preserves. I'm going for "summer" by making the BBQ Cranberry sauce.

            2. I'd do the turkey and ham at room temp, not cold.
              definitely include the cream cheese as condiment

              platter of fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, grapes) offer yogurt dip or sour cream and brown sugar (OR BOTH)
              platter of fresh veggies (sliced red bell peppers, carrot sticks, cucumber slices) make 2 dips, spinach dip and California French Onion dip