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Need Creative Idea for Large Party

We are giving a large party (100 people roughly). We already have meatballs, chicken salad wraps, pimento cheese wraps, veggie and fruit trays, cheese and crackers and desserts. We wanted a second "hot" option to keep toasty in a warming tray. Our intent was to just get Chik-Fil-A nuggets - until we realized they are $70/ per 25 servings. Whoa! So we are looking for another "hot" option - either chicken or vegetarian that is family friendly. We thought about mini-quiches (we will have access to a regular kitchen oven) but thought they might get soggy in a warming tray stacked on each other.

So... ANY ideas would be hugely appreciated since we need to zero in on this menu soon.

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  1. how 'bout a tray of pulled pork with nice rolls (presliced) or a spiral-cut ham and small rolls so people can make their own sandwiches? sorry these suggestions are neither chicken nor vegetarian...but here comes 2 more meat options for small sandwiches: thinly sliced pepperoni cooked long and low in crock pot with non-seasoned canned tomatoes; sausage and peppers;peppers and scrambled eggs together...

    3 Replies
    1. re: betsydiver

      you can make pulled chicken with thigh meat quite cheaply.

      1. re: betsydiver

        LOVE the idea with the scrambled eggs and pepperoni. My mouth is watering. Thanks!

        1. re: jillfiredup

          Scrambled eggs for that many people are, IMO, going to get pretty yucky (dried out, overcooked) quite fast. With 100 people they're probably going to be mingling and noshing. Just my two cents.

      2. Mini-Spanakopitas (Greek Spinach Pies) are delicious and only need to be reheated.

        1 Reply
        1. two things come to mind

          1) Fried chicken - I love home made friend chicken, holds okay, and goes along with your original intent

          2) Phyllo dough is your friend - along the earlier poster's spanakopita idea- I've done baked chicken dish wrapped in phyllo that you can make well ahead, freeze and bake the day of. Essentially, chicken, mayo, parm cheese, tarragon all chopped up together - put a few tablespoons on a double strip of buttered phyllo and wrap into a triangle (like folding a flag). They are really good. I think I originally got the idea out of the Silver Palate cookbook, but theirs may have been with whole chicken breast (that was a long time ago). It would also give you a little crunch in your food offerings from the flaky phyllo.

          5 Replies
          1. re: thimes

            I would second fried chicken. I think KFC is gross stuff, but you can get 25 servings of fried chicken at Popeyes for much less than the Chikfila nuggets if you don't want to make it yourself.

            1. re: SaraAshley

              I have never tried Popeye's. I might call to get their catering costs. Do you think it would stay crunchy in a warming tray?

              1. re: jillfiredup

                I can't say from personal experience. I usually just eat it soon after buying it, but I've had at it potlucks where it's just been set out with no warming trays. It's fine at room temperature for me.

            2. re: thimes

              Love the idea of chopped chicken phyllo! Or maybe even a caesar chicken phyllo wrap. I might test both this weekend.

              1. re: jillfiredup

                am not sure you want to be baking lettuce for the chicken caesar filling?

                when i make bastilla it's always a big hit.

                if you're making these the normal way, you'd need at least 150-200 single-serves. that's fiddly and time-consuming. rather than folding hundreds of little phyllo packages, you can roll any of these jellyroll style and cut into slices -OR- just bake in lasagne pans and cut and serve right in the pan.

            3. How about a baked potato fixings bar?

              1. I like the fried chicken idea too.
                Here's another. . . .
                Buffalo Chicken Dip

                3-4 cooked boneless/skinless chicken breasts, shredded with a fork
                or 2 10-ounce cans chunk chicken, drained
                16 ounces cream cheese
                1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing
                ¾ cup Frank's Hot Sauce
                1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                Place shredded chicken and hot sauce in a pan. Mix and heat thoroughly. Add cream cheese and dressing. Mix and heat thoroughly. Add half of the shredded cheese and mix until melted. Put in a small crockpot and add the rest of the shredded cheese on top. Serve this with chicken crackers, celery sticks, and bagette slices. This gives you the taste of buffalo chicken wings without the mess.

                1. I'd go with some sort of stew or gumbo such as a chicken-andouille gumbo or cajun seafood gumbo with andouille smoked sausage (Paul Prudhomme), jambalaya, etc. but it sounds like you're favoring a different direction. Fried chicken sounds like a mess.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Scoutmaster

                    I REALLY like this idea but not with seafood. To me overcooked seafood is the worst. And it starts to smell, well, like fish :(

                  2. I also like fried chicken idea; if you have a Walmart near you, you can order it already fried and their chicken is tasty. Order it a couple days in advance & pick up...their price is affordable (we've done it for large family dinners).

                    As to keeping it crispy, anytime you keep food in covered chafers, after awhile it steams from the combination of heat from the sternos & water pan so as long as the food is constantly being served, the chicken will stay crispy. Once you keep the lid on for long periods of time, chicken will lose it's crispiness but will still taste good.

                    I also like the idea of pulled bbq chicken or better yet, pulled Jerk chicken. Pulled bbq turkey is inexpensive for a crowd; I do it for family meals cause part of my family don't eat pork but they love BBQ, so I do both turkey & pork Q. Either will serve a lot of people and hold well in a chafer for long periods of time; serve with rolls & slaw.

                    Soups & stews will hold well for hours; Brunswick stew is great (combination of chicken & vegetables) as is gumbo, which can be made pretty much with everything but the kitchen sink. I like to do a Caribbean inspired sweet potato chowder with Jerk spices & coconut milk. It holds very well and is inexpensive for a crowd; I've also added chicken to this and people love it.

                    You can also do baked pasta, like chicken alfredo or chicken/mushroom (or other veggie) pasta with penne.

                    Other chicken options that come to mind for a crowd is chicken parmesan or one I really like to do is a boneless skinless chicken breast, stuffed with smoked gouda/cream cheese mix or a spreadable herbed cheese with oven dried/sundried tomatoes...It's then dusted with flour, dipped in egg/milk mix and patted in seasoned panko or other dry breadcrumbs. It's lightly browned on both sides then finished in the oven then served with a white wine sauce with a bit of cream. This was the most popular chicken item for caterings when I worked in a restaurant and I still make it.

                    1. As a teen we used to make "enchiladas" - cubed chicken breast, sautéed then poured a whole jar of pace salsa then handfuls of cheese.

                      I suppose shredded chicken would work too. Maybe serve the tortillas on the side for simplicity. You'd probably need the Costco size pace.

                      1. I don't think anyone has mentioned chili. Make it with beans, no meat; keep it mild and vegetarian, perhaps have additional hot sauce available to add to individual servings.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gourmanda

                          Exactly what i was going to suggest- its super easy and cheap to make too. Toppings like sour cream, tortilla chips amd diced onion are perfect

                        2. What about a large pan of fried rice? You could add "mixins" in separate containers so the non-veg folks could add what they wanted (ham, chicken, whatever). Cook it up with or without egg, green onion, etc. Do it the Chinese way without the soy sauce so guests can add their own and I think it will keep better.

                          1. I'd go with something different than chicken, since you already have a chicken item.

                            Sausage and peppers works great for large crowds, and it tastes better the long it sits.

                            Lasagna would also be great -- you could do a cheese one or do chopped veggies with an alfredo sauce.

                            Baked rigatoni would also be good -- bake earlier in the day, then keep warm in your warming tray.

                            You could make a taco bar -- use mini flour tortillas instead of full size ones. Use ground beef or turkey, and put the meat in the warming tray, and provide the tortillas and toppings so guests could assemble their own.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: boogiebaby

                              I think a taco bar with mini flour tortillas is a super idea. With enough fillings, everyone can be happy and it holds well.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Yes, it's always a big hit at our house. I do the mini flour tortillas (warmed and kept in a covered container), corn tostada shells, and tortilla chips. For toppings/sides, I do meat, refried beans, lettuce, couple kinds of salsa, chopped tomatoes, taco sauce, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and onions. Everyone can make their own item -- mini burrito, soft taco, tostada, nachos, etc. Extremely versatile.

                                1. re: boogiebaby

                                  I also have rice and grated cheese. Oh, and we prefer whole beans. It's one of our faves meals for just the two of us also.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Oh yes, I do cheese too. Forgot that part. In fact, we just did a meal like this last night for dinner -- I baked corn tortillas for tostadas and we had small flour tortillas for soft tacos. Really hit the spot!

                            2. Lots of great ideas for you so far. I would personally do a vegetarian chili. It will be warm, hearty, and taste better the longer it sits. Or a white chicken chili if you want another option. Or both.

                              Otherwise a pulled pork/shredded chicken mini sandwich would be a nice addition. Or a cheesy baked pasta dish would match your style

                              1. Chicken a la king, accompanied by rice, toast points, or pastry shells. I prefer making it with raw cubed skinless, boneless chicken than leftover cooked chicken. The cubes hold their shape when cooked in the creamy sauce to which they add flavor, whereas cooked chicken turns into shreds by the time the sauce is complete. Remove the gills from the mushrooms or they will darken the sauce. Add the pimento at the end and don't stir a lot so the sauce stays white. Peas, if you include them, can go in at the end, too.
                                This dish stretches a pound of chicken into at least 6 servings. If you have any left over, you can turn it into chicken-corn chowder by adding canned creamed and niblet corn and some more chicken broth.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: greygarious

                                  I just go to thinking about the volume(s) required for this and other things mentioned. Granted no one's going to eat a dinner-sized serving but still for 100 people, that's going to take a LARGE pot to cook in.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Maybe several batches. But in this situation, it's a safe bet that individual guests will pick and choose, so OP can think more about making 50 servings than 100 of everything.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Also sounds like OP's only got a warming tray to keep things, well, warm :)

                                2. I attended a large party a couple of years ago where the main dish was chicken curry over rice. The curry and rice were in separate chafers. The hostess said that she always does chicken curry for large events because "everyone loves it and eats it up".