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Thread: Help with Main dish for a crowd

  1. #1

    Help with Main dish for a crowd

    I need help with some main dish ideas to feed about 18 to 20 people. I don't want lasagna, but wanted something that could be put together ahead of time (a day), is cooked/baked at the last minute, and can be eaten standing and with a fork only. I was thinking of Manicotti or Cannelloni, but that is boring. Others will be supplying the sides, desserts, etc.

    I wouldn't mind a chicken or pork dish as long as the meat is in pieces. Any thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated.

    BTW, I have searched im my mastercook and am just overwhelmed. I need the dish two weeks from now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Southern NH
    How about CL's Barbecued Chicken Pot Pie? I make the filling ahead all the time, then add the crust and bake it. Everyone loves this and it is different.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    North of the ocean, South of the Freeway, Mississippi Gulf Coast
    Shrimp and Eggplant dish

    3-4 stalks Celery
    1 Quart chopped Tomatoes
    1 Quart chopped Onions
    2 Cups chopped Bell Pepper
    1 Cup chopped Parsley
    3 Eggplant: peeled, chopped in large chunks, boiled in salted water, drained
    2 pounds shrimp, peeled
    1/4 teaspoon granulated Garlic
    1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper
    1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
    1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
    1/4 teaspoon Basil
    1/4 teaspoon Rosemary
    1/8 teaspoon Thyme
    3 Bay Leaves
    (Olive Oil to saute)

    Saute the Celery, Tomatoes, Onions and Bell Pepper and Parsley in Olive Oil.
    Add the Eggplant and seasonings. Add a bit of water if needed to simmer the veggies until tender and the flavors mingle. Add the shrimp and simmer until done.

    You can prepare the dish as a hot casserole, putting the vegetable mixture in a casserole dish, topping with the shrimp and with buttered bread crumbs. Bake in a hot oven til the shrimp are done and the crumbs are brown.

    My dad prefers the dish as a casserole, with plenty of black pepper added on top of the shrimp.

    In the original recipe, the quantities were reduced, calling for only a single eggplant, one onion, one can of tomatoes, a quarter cup of parsley, etc. In recent years, I make this in large batches, freezing it for later use. My dad and I both like it served over pasta or rice. It’s also nice as a side dish (minus the shrimp, if you like) at family gatherings. The original recipe called for bouquet garni, which I didn’t have one day, so I substituted the basil, rosemary and thyme.
    A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
    Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
    something Brussels sprouts never do.
    P. J. O'Rourke, humorist

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    my first thought was chili.

  5. #5


    I don't know if you've looked at any of the threads on this list:

    I'm thinking a stew of some sort might be nice (there's an oven-baked stew I think SandyM posted, if you run a search.) I also think something like crawfish etouffée would also be good (can also be done with shrimp) however price may be a deterrent for that many people (I've also posted recipe for that in the past.) Or some sort of a meatball dish might also be easy (didn't Jewel post a meatball stroganoff a couple of years ago?) I'm also thinking that pork tenderloin (if the tenderloins are skinny) would work without a knife.

    I think it's hard to coordinate when you don't know what everyone else is making. Bringing Chinese Chicken Salad, for example, is a tasty main course, but if people show up with potato salad and baked beans...

    I'm back again. You didn't really say what sort of party this is. Dunno if something like a taco bar would be out of the question. Was also thinking maybe pulled pork (supply rolls and whatever goes on sandwiches for people to do themselves if you're doing it buffet style).

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Grapevine, TX
    What about the Chicken Tetrazinni from March 2003? It's from the article about entrees that can be frozen. It makes a ton and is really good!!

    Chicken Tetrazzini
    From Cooking Light

    This classic dish, created and named for 19th-century opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, is a great way to use leftover cooked chicken or turkey. The thin pasta soaks up the sauce, forming a casserole that you can cut with a fork. To make it easier to toss the pasta and sauce, break the vermicelli in half before cooking.

    1 tablespoon butter
    Cooking spray
    1 cup finely chopped onion
    2/3 cup finely chopped celery
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
    1/2 cup dry sherry
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    3 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
    4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
    1 (1-ounce) slice white bread

    Preheat oven to 350°.
    Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

    Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

    Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes coated with cooking spray.

    Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.

    Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

    To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

    To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.

    Yield: 2 casseroles, 6 servings each (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)

    CALORIES 380 (29% from fat); FAT 12.2g (sat 6.6g, mono 3.4g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 33g; CARB 32.7g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 66mg; IRON 2.8mg; SODIUM 964mg; CALC 319mg;

    Barbara Seelig Brown
    Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Phoenix, AZ
    What about Enchiladas? They can be made day before, with chicken, pork or beef. Baked at the last minute.

    Check out this thread

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Lasagna isn't really boring if you make a different type of lasagna such as Black Bean or a butternut squash perhaps.

  9. #9
    My first thought was chili too and enchiladas can be really easy. What about the eggplant, tomato gratin from CL? You could easily double that recipe and use canned tomatoes (I actually liked it better this way).

  10. #10
    My mind went right to Chili as well (must be the sudden lower temps outside!). But it also matters what type of occasion this is ... is it formal, casual? That would definitely play into what type of dish would be more appropriate...
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