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Help! Cooking for a crowd

(21 Posts)
DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 10:14:39

Hi All, trying to organise a food order for my sisters hen do next weekend. We are hiring a cottage in the country and there will be about 20 people.
I was thinking of something along the lines of jamie oliver chicken tray bake (toms/peppers/chicken roasted together with balsamic vinegar). What would you serve this with? Worried rice for 20 people might be tricky. Also what can I do for vegetarians? Would butternut squash be a good substitute?
Oh did I mention I will have 4 month old baby with me? So needs to be easy!

kazza446 Tue 11-Mar-14 10:18:30

That sounds lovely. I did nigellas chicken & chorizo traybake for first time last week. It was lovely and very simple. I just served it with a lovely green salad and crusty bread x

DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 10:30:56

Ooh that sounds lovely. Is bread and salad enough? Don't know if I need something else to help soak up the wine!

sausagefortea Tue 11-Mar-14 10:40:57

I would go for a big pot of chilli. Rice shouldn't be too bad if you cook it by the absorption method and easy cook American long grain rather than basmati or anything more likely to be sticky. I know chilli could be a bit on the boring side but I would jazz it up a bit with some lovely chopped avocado, tomato, red onion, lime and coriander salad to sprinkle over the top. And a green salad and garlic bread on the side.

If you did a traybake you would need to make sure the oven in the cottage is large enough for at least 2 possibly 3 big trays of chicken. That much chicken is likely to take longer all in together and there's always the worry of whether its going to be cooked through (I speak from experience of cooking chicken for a crowd - 'twas a bit of a nightmare!)

And you could have a veggy chilli (all veggy or quorn) as well.

DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 10:52:16

Ovens aren't a problem - we have 3 cottages next to rack other so 3 ovens (just might need a bit of running between them).
Chilli is a good idea though. I thought it would be too much chopping but probably less than the tray bake.
I've got 4 veggies and 1 gluten free

LadyBumps Tue 11-Mar-14 10:55:26

Yes, I'd go with chilli & perhaps jacket spuds instead of rice? With salad, grated cheese & a lovely home-made coleslaw?

Catsmamma Tue 11-Mar-14 10:56:10

something like lasagne? Get that made now and can defrost on the way and just into the oven

Normal for the meat eaters, Butternut squash, feta and pine nut for the veggies. Then it's just garlic bread/ salad to prep for that night.

DowntonTrout Tue 11-Mar-14 10:59:11

I have a big slow cooker and would use that.

Chilli, curry, beef bourguinon or the like. Put it on in the morning and it cooks itself.

Big pan of rice, or jacket potatoes.salads. Bread.

Catsmamma Tue 11-Mar-14 11:02:07

or if you do want chicken, get them and spatch cock them....just cut out the backbone and flatten them....they cook more quickly than a whole chicken and I've done them in a tray, pile on "mini roastie" potatos rolled in oil/salt/lemon/herb of choice

Oven up to 200/250 and just give the tray a shake to make sure the tatties are browned...then all you have to do is tip them into a bowl, and portion up the chicken into halves/quarters and folks can help themselves with salad/bread

GingerMaman Tue 11-Mar-14 11:11:17

I would do a large pot of curry and serve it with either rice or ready made chappathis. If you live local to some Indians, you could even buy home made chapatis off them.

Chopstheduck Tue 11-Mar-14 11:17:13

what about tagine and couscous? Couscous is easy tio cook in huge batches. Though I would probably go for chilli or curry.

DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 11:33:01

Thanks for the ideas. Would normally cook in advance but none of my pots a home would be enough for 20. Plus I have a baby and preschooler at home so cooking there might actually be easier!
Ok chilli it is. Her friends are nice so reckon I can rope them in to help out. I can make the veggie one gluten free.
Thanks MN!

DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 11:34:53

One more question! How much mince for 16 people?

Chopstheduck Tue 11-Mar-14 11:35:41


DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 11:51:27


sausagefortea Tue 11-Mar-14 13:50:36

I would cook it beforehand as well and Do in 2 batches. Once made a huge spag sauce for lasagne all at once and it took an absolute age to brown and cook. It's much easier to cook in 2 manageable batches! I had another thought about how to make it a bit more out of the ordinary (with minimum fuss!) by adding some plain chocolate just to give extra depth (nigella has a recipe).

Nigella also adds chorizo to her cheesy chilli which I thought was quite yummy.

Oh and a 'starter' with mexican - how about some plain tortilla chips, sprinkle in dollops some chopped tinned tomatoes and then lots of grated cheese (and some coriander to be 'fancy') - bake for 10 mins on a hot oven. Very more ish and good for soaking up alcohol!!

googietheegg Tue 11-Mar-14 14:40:55

If you did your tray bake, you could do one veggie tray - just whole onions roasted with the same other stuff. Almost quarter them but don't cut all the way through then add a bit of butter and olive oil. Roast for at least an hour. Serve everything with bread and salad. Nice!

mrsnec Tue 11-Mar-14 14:51:12

If you want the vegetarian tray bake to be more substantial you could add halloumi to the veg. I tried a nice tray bake with chicken thighs, halloumi, honey, thyme and lemon zest.

DrMouse Tue 11-Mar-14 22:03:07

Thanks for your replies. Nachos are great idea.
I'm likely to be up v early with the baby so will probably start it in the morning and let it simmer for most of the day.

Chopstheduck Wed 12-Mar-14 06:40:34

I'd do jacket potatoes with the chilli. Just bung a ton of potatoes in the oven and sprinkle with salt and oil!

JamNan Wed 12-Mar-14 16:31:52

I'd go for the jacket potatoes idea with the chilli too. Or sweet potatoes maybe? To go with the first course make some salsa, yoghurt and lime, guacamole, refried beans (out of a tin), and sour cream cream/cheese and cucumber.

Don't forget the Margaritas. Sorted wink!

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