Advice needed:- formal plated dinner for approx 250

Joined Apr 27, 2009
Hi Folks,

I have a great opportunity this spring to cater a pretty large formal event for upto 250 people.  They are looking for a plated 3 course meal that would be suggested by me.   The menu I am thinking of offering is as follows.

1. mixxed greens salad with seeds, nuts, cranberries in balsamic vinegarette

2. braised lamb shanks (braised in red wine with porcini mushroom stock, thyme, carrots, celery, onions, stock) with couscous & glazed green beans

3. Tiramisu

The event is at a cultural centre that has a very underequipped and poorly designed kitchen.  I helped cater a  new years party last year there and even though it was very challenging we made it happen.  

I will have 2 ovens with two shelves each (Garland ovens) 8 gas burners and a full sized hot box to prepare all of my food.  

What I was thinking was braising the lamb shanks the previous day and then transferring them over to foil chafing dish pans. I find that I can fit two foil pans side by side on each shelf of the oven - I just need to figure out how many shanks I can fit in a pan.    On the day of the event I can make the couscous about an hour before service and I'll just reheat the lamb shanks in the oven for a short period of time.   How long do you think it will take to reheat them?  I was hoping 20 minutes at 350-375 or so would do it....

Does this sound doable?  Will braised shanks reheat nicely while staying soft, flavorful and succulent?

What other veggie options are there other than the green beans?

Also, they are asking for a vegetarian meal for a dozen or so vegetarians that will be on-site - they said just a pasta or something.   Any suggestions?  (no fish allowed)

Joined Aug 11, 2000

your menu does not read like a Spring Menu....more like a heavy winter one.

A Spring lamb Stew would reheat well also....lighter, brighter flavors. carrots, peas, new potatoes, parsnips, beans......

Spring suggests, spinach, asparagus, lemons, chevre....spring mix works, w/o craisins, even a raspberry vinagrette would work well.

dessert....Spring.....strawberries, rhubarb, etc...lemon curd, chevre tart.....premade, just plate & garnish. 

Braised reheats well, depends on how thick you have it in the pans.....whether the ovens are convection & work properly.....

Veg heads want a complete protein.  rice/beans with veg....not a lot of gloppy cheese.  Mushroom Stacks are easy and go over well.
Joined Oct 28, 2010
I don't see an issue with the entree- I think using a mushroom stock will lighten that dish up considerably. That said, I find that low gelatin broths/stocks generally lead to a dry final product. The gelatin in the stock is very important to a moist braised item. I'd change the salad, though- that one doesn't seem like spring at all. How about a french bean and apple salad, with pickled shallots and a yuzu vinaigrette? 

As for the veg option... I'd just do a nice mushroom lasagne- if possible, make use of nice spring mushrooms, though morels get pretty pricey and I don't know how much you're getting per person. 
Joined Apr 3, 2010
I agree with mushroom girl.Re spring type entree and  It will take more then 20 min. to reheat., and you wont be able to fit 250 shanks in 4 pans without breaking them quite a bit . If pans are really full will take even longer to heat(density). Serve a simple berry fresh fruit tart on a deco plate .Its easy and fast and comes in boxes so they stack. I would serve carrots julianne which you can buy already cut and holds color in heat. Good Luck
Joined Apr 21, 2010
lamb shanks reheat beautifully as long as you reheat them at low temp, so give it an hour at 300-325oF. u can always take them off the bone in big pieces (to save space). carrots are good cos of colour

i like the mushroom lasagna for vegetarians or maybe a puy lentil shepherd's pie? can be made waaaaaaaay in advance n reheated for 20-30 mins 400oF 

as for the salad, i agree that it looks pretty autumny, maybe a green bean salad w hazelnuts would b lovely.

for pudding (dessert) you can make a berry tiramisu or a roulade? it's ever so cheap, also can be made in advance and it is quite pretty, could be chocolate and orange, served with a dollop of whipped cream and grand marnier, or meringue roulade with strawberries n cream inside? individual rhubarb pies, can be made ahead, transported in stackable boxes and you can play with presentation, it is less messy and easier to control portion and presentation as no cutting is required. 

good luck!!!!!!
Joined May 22, 2010
Turn your shank into a ragout. More portions in less pans = easier to heat. Still get a smoking presentation using your couscous as a base and building up.
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