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40th birthday party at home -- menu suggestions needed!

I'm throwing a 40th birthday party for my husband on the first weekend in June -- he wants to grill burgers and hot dogs, etc. But I think that might be too much work for him and he won't enjoy the party.

Any menu suggestions? So we aren't spending the time cooking and he gets to enjoy himself?


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  1. How about a bouillabaise or gumbo or paella that could be mostly prepped ahead of time? I did a shrimp, sausage & crabmeat gumbo once a day ahead and it was great the next night. Not the least expensive dishes, but a chicken & sausage gumbo wouldn't be too costly.

    1. The first questions I have are how many people will be there? Will there be adults and children? Are you looking for things to make well ahead of time? I'm assuming by your burgers and dogs comment that it will be buffet style? These things will help in deciding what to make.

      1. If he is talking about doing the grilling, then he probably enjoys it. Instead of individual burgers and dogs, get him to do a tri-tip or other large cut, so he can get the bbq mojo going but isn't going to be over the grill all day. Cook it, slice it, and then everyone makes sandwiches.

        1. Burgers and dogs take less than 10 minutes to cook, and it sounds like his comfort zone, but he'd like to man the grill for the party. Doesn't seem like a time issue, but perhaps that you'd like to make the menu more interesting. Kebabs are great for quick grilling and you can go in so many directions.

          1. I forgot to mention that the guest list is reaching 100, only a minor detail! I'm not sure that grilling burgers and dogs for 100 is the way to spend your birthday...

            I like the tri-tip idea a lot! I also thought about tacos ...

            4 Replies
            1. re: alexia

              With 100 you are going to need more that just a tri-tip. Assuming that manning the grill is something he really wants to do, I would do about 30 pounds of tri-tip a couple of large salmon filets, and another protien option that is in his wheelhouse. Maybe some turkey quarters, maybe something pork.

              1. re: alexia

                unless you have a commerical size grill...you need another plan.

                1. re: LaLa

                  I was not thinking that it all had to be done in one shot. Food for 100 is going to take time and space, no matter what equipment you have.

                2. re: alexia

                  If you are going to do this try to get a hold of a second grill and one or two people who can be dedicated helpers.

                3. Cook the burgers and the dogs in advance...just barely done. ~~ Line a cooler with aluminum foil....drop the burgers in and shut the lid until it's time to eat....I've cooked 150 burgers, and 60 to 80 dogs like this several times. ~~ Are they as good as off the grill and onto a bun?? Prolly not...Are they Artsy Fartsy Gourmet, cooked to medium rare perfection?...Prolly not,... but they will be damn good.


                  PS,,,,He/you will have time to do this....take a shower, cool off, have a beverage, and be relaxed for the party.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    My first suggestion would be to avoid doing any last minute cooking for 100 - unless you are renting a huge grill where you can cook them all at once. It is just too many people.

                    However, if you want to go down Uncle Bob's road - growing up in Wisconsin we used to cook the burgers and brats and then just keep them warm in a big pot of beer/water/onions/butter on the grill all day for anyone who wanted one (keep the liquid just warm). They were always tasty and kept very well that way (not artsy fartsy gourmet as stated but definitely doable).

                  2. My 30th birthday is coming up, and we are expecting 60 (not quite 100!) - we are grilling boneless butterflied legs of lamb (marinated in garlic, chilli, rosemary etc etc) and supplementing that with bought rottiserie chickens (which I will carve beforehand). Scalloped potatoes (made before the day ), salads and bread rolls will complete the meal - the aim being that everything except for the lamb will be pretty much done before guests arrive - just grillling the lamb, heating up potatoes and dressing the salads will be done during the party. Have fun!!

                    1. I think the suggestions you have received are practical. If he wants to gril hamburgers and hot dogs, then perhaps he wants to man the grill because he enjoys it. I'm with you about the how long he will be stuck at the grill on his day. So, you and he need to talk this through. What does he want from this experience?

                      If he want hot dogs and hamburgers, cooking in advance and using one of the tricks recommended here sound fine to me. You could add brats as well, or turkey burgers, or whatever you think others might want. Get really nice buns for your burgers and hot dogs. And make picnic friendly salads ahead of time. I like the idea of kebabs for the grill, if that proves practical. You can also do fruit kebabs, and you could even grill these if you wanted--or not. Dessert should be hand held (too bad it can't be strawberry shortcake) and there should be enough sides so that a vegetarian can find plenty to eat and be happy with.

                      If pressed to bring a salad to something, or to make ahead for a meal, I am partial to broccoli salad with sliced red grapes and sweet onion. But there are probably other fancier, but applicable, salad type dishes you could make.You can also make a really spiffy salsa.

                      1. The best non grilling picnic we ever did was pulled pork in a slow cooker.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: melpy

                          I actually think we've decided on a taco bar.

                          Grilled lime chicken (made ahead and sliced, and kept at room temp)
                          Black bean salad (for the vegetarians)

                          Tortillas (hard & soft shells)
                          Shredded Cheese
                          Sour Cream
                          and Chips
                          Cabbage Lime Slaw for topping the tacos too.

                          Set everything out and let people fend for themselves. I plan on purchasing about 20-25 lbs of chicken, but how much beans will I need? The ratio of vegetarians is slim, but the meat eaters all love their veggies. What do you think? Thoughts, suggestions, concerns?

                        2. Check with local delis or butcher shops. They may come & cook everything for you. My friend did that for her 40th & she had about 100 people also. They did everything including serving & clean up so my friend didn't have to do a thing & was able to enjoy herself.