HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What's as easy as pulled pork but *not* pulled pork?

My daughter's turning four in a few weeks, and adults will far outnumber the kids at her party. We have a big family so I get groups of 40-60, which is both a blessing and, when it comes to food prep, a curse.

Anyway, for two of her three previous parties I've done pulled pork with assorted trimmings and it couldn't be easier - feels summery, casual but a little bit festive, easy to make large quantities, easy to eat outside, pleases all and best of all requires little to no last-minute prep. What other ideas can you think of that are as great as this? I also have an 8 month old and would really like to avoid last minute grilling or anything extremely time sensitive. One year it was a brunch and I made some large frittatas which was equally easy.

Thought I'd do something different this year, but what? I know you have some good ideas...?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For our big family gatherings in summer, we usually do shrimp boils with corn on the cob, new potatoes and chunks of smoked sausage. Easy in the sense that it only requires lemon wedges, melted butter, Old Bay seasoning and a big pot of boiling water (we use a propane tank) but it is a little time-sensitive with regard to when to add each ingredient to the pot, etc. Summery sides like coleslaw and potato salad go along just fine.

    Also peel-and-eat/messiness might be an issue with kids but we do ours outside. We do head-on shrimp but you could buy them already peeled too (they just have less flavor).

    For those with seafood allergies and/or pickiness we just do a few bratwurst on the grill.

    Note that we live in Florida so access to fresh quality inexpensive seafood is a little easier, LOL.

    3 Replies
    1. re: speakhandsforme

      Wow - I love this idea! I've never had a shrimp boil but I'm now totally intrigued. To be honest, it's always looked pretty bland in cookbooks, etc, but I just read up on it and it sounds pretty awesome. I hesitate slightly because of the potential messiness, but if I don't have the guts to do it for this party I vow to do this this summer for friends. Very excited, and thanks!

      1. re: lolabella

        Never bland as long as you season the boil correctly. With fresh Gulf shrimp, almost no seasoning is needed - they're sweet and tasty on their own. :)

      2. re: speakhandsforme

        This exactly what we do too...plus throw on regular hotdogs.

        1. Why not just change the protein? You could do mexican shredded chicken or slow cooker BBQ beef. I just made the Chow recipe and it was excellent.


          1 Reply
          1. re: foodieX2

            Also a great idea, and in fact the Chow article of 'slow cooker recipes for hot days' is pretty perfect, thanks for bringing it to my attention, and also good to hear that the brisket recipe was a winner. Thanks!

          2. In a large stock pot, place smoked ham with large onion studded with 6 cloves. Add cinnamon stick , cover with white wine, and simmer for at least 2 hours. Drain and cool. Serve as sliders on dinner rolls or biscuits. Cheese would be a nice extra.

            Put a large chunk of beef in another stock pot. Add equal amounts of wine and soy sauce till almost covered. Add at least a small bottle of worsctershire, some sugar, star anise, ginger, cloves, peppercorns, and juice of 2 large lemons. Cover with additional wine if needed. Let sit for 2 to 5 days, turning daily. Bring to a simmer the day before for 4 to 6 hours. Cool and slice.

            If you cook the soy marinade before adding the beef, you will have the start of a great Chinese red sauce. You can save it and cook additional items in it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              Thanks! I always think of ham as a winter/holiday type meat, but yes of course it can have a country picnic vibe too. Suddenly I feel like I have too many good ideas to choose from!!

            2. Cake and ice cream is *ALL* you need for HER birthday.

              If you want to have a party for adults....have it later

              Have Fun!

              1. Happy Birthday to your daughter (in advance)! I think I would consider setting up a taco bar. Everyone makes their own to their liking and ingredients are pretty cheap. Maybe make some ground beef type filling, also some chicken filling, and then just a big foil pan of home made pinto beans (either whole or refried) and a big pan of Mexican style rice (super easy and cheap to make), Relishes: shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar or jack cheese, and salsa. A simple salad. For dessert... Cake and ice cream of course!

                1 Reply
                1. re: three_margaritas

                  Taco bars are great for groups since everyone can customize their own (and make their own) and you can prep almost all the toppings the previous day. Toppings like a fresh pico de gallo, pickled onions, shredded cabbage slaw, salsa, etc let the grown ups use more sophisticated flavors and the kids choose what they want.
                  I would do a meat, a poultry, and vegetarian version with grilled veggies (keep the beans meatless)

                2. Smoked turkey breast or ham with rolls and all the trimmings.

                  1. Chicago style Italian beef would be easy in the crock pot.
                    I just use a big pot roast, throw in some oregano, pepperoncini with the pickling juice, beef soup base, and cook all day. For the last hour, add sliced onion and green peppers. Serve on hoagie rolls with more pepperoncini, giardiniera, mozzarella.

                    As a matter of fact, Chicago dogs would be a nice alternative - just set out all the fixings and everyone can make their own. The dogs can stay warm in a crock pot.

                      1. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

                        It's hard to beat pulled pork for convenience! What if you took it Asian style: did char siu pork roast in the slow cooker and served it on King's Hawaiian rolls and with an Asian-style slaw?



                        I've wanted to try this slow cooker barbacoa for a crowd, but I dread chopping all of the onions. And you'd have to find a way to heat the tortillas and keep them warm at the last minute, which might not work for you.


                        Have fun!


                        1. I'd roast or barbecue a couple of turkeys the day before and buy or make salads that can be prepped ahead of time. Also buy some rolls and fixings for sandwiches. Reheat the meat or go cold turkey.