Party of 30: making it easy so I can spend time with guests?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by french fries, May 12, 2013.

  1. french fries

    french fries

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    Ok so I'm throwing a party, around 30 guests, problem is, last year when I did this I ended up spending the whole time behind the grill!!!!

    This year I'd like to spend more time with my guests and less time cooking or stressing over what's on the grill etc... 

    Any idea regarding the type of stuff that is ideal for a party like that...? It's hot here in SoCal so of course we could already prepare salads... like tabouleh for example... cut up some fruits...

    But what about meats? I have access to a large 6 burner gas grill, and a large gas oven. 

    Any ideas and/or tips welcome. 
     
  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Why not rent some cambros for the day? Do your grilling right before your guests arrive and put the finished proteins in the cambros to rest and stay at temp.
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Heh just have it all out there and make them grill it themselves.  :)
     
  4. mboshka

    mboshka

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    For parties I like skewered meats that cook up quick. Fill the whole grill up with shrimp skewers and by the time you put on the last skewer it will be time to flip the first the one. When you flip the last one the first skewer is basically done. Shrimp for thirty in about five minutes cooking time. Really any small cut of meat grilled on a stick is easy, fast, and always hit.

    You could slow cook some ribs in the oven, which would require no supervision, and finish them on the grill right before serving them up. That wouldn't take too much time away from your guests.  

    Cold grain salads (I like pearly barley), or slaws can be taken in any direction and are delicious and easy to throw together.    

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. durangojo

    durangojo

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    FF,
    since your choices are virtually limitless, perhaps it would be easier for you to pick a theme and build on it... here's a few initial ideas and thoughts to maybe get you rolling...
    I know that SoCal offers tons of Mexican cuisine, but good simple Mexican food is always such great food for a party and is just soo much fun...nothing says fiesta like being handed a nice frosty margarita at the door....ole! ..personally,I like Rick Bayless's style of Mexican cooking.....clean, simple and honest

    Perhaps some Mexican foods to consider:
    gazpacho shooter appetizer....
    Grilled chile lime chicken thighs
    carnitas or smoked pork with all the trimmings(guac, cream fresca, pico, corn tortillas, 2/3 salsas, radishes, jalapeños etc.).....carnitas can be cooked and held in an alto sham
    pinto beans or frijoles negros
    enchiladas( spinach)
    Ceviche
    Fresh fruit
    Tres leches cake

    or maybe a simple old fashioned American BBQ:
    Smoked pork something
    baby back ribs
    Beans with pork
    Grilled corn on the cob
    Potato salad
    Macaroni salad or cole slaw
    beefsteak tomato salad
    for the ladies,a fresh non mayonnaise salad
    Cornbread
    Peach crumble or cobbler with ice cream
    Jell-O shots!

    or you can invite BDL, since you're near the same hood,let him man the grill and you be the perfect host and enjoy your guests

    all the hot foods can be held in an alto sham for hours and hours and hours

    .....have fun!

    joey
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  6. ordo

    ordo

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    When we used to party for more than 20, we hired 2 persons. One expert for the grilling, (with a "damajuana" of red wine on a side, enough to get drunk a patrol) and a maid to serve. But that was wood grilling, which requires precise timings for offal, sausages, beef cuts, pork ribs, etc. not burner gas grilling, which are almost unknown here in Arg.
     
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    We set up helpers for the grill.  There are usually several people taking turns on grilling, prepping charcoal, etc.  It's hard work and no amount of preparation can totally eliminate the need for someone to be constantly present at the grill.  Your best option is to hire someone to grill and enjoy your party  :)
     
  8. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks guys for all your great ideas. 

    So... helpers aren't really an option - although I can always ask a friend to man the grill for a few minutes while I run to the kitchen if necessary. 

    Skewers... LOVE the idea. In fact it was kinda in the back of my mind. Quite a bit of prep, but should make everything faster the day of, plus people always love skewers, they're fun to eat and you don't need to sit down or take a plate or anything. 

    @ Joey

    I love the idea of a theme, I usually try to have some kind of "lose" theme. Now Mexican I've already done last year... and for some reason right now doesn't really excite me so I'm turning toward other avenues. I'm thinking this could go two ways now - I'm listing some of the potential ideas. 

    1) Asian skewer party?
    • Japanese lacquered pork belly skewers
    • Korean short ribs
    • Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce
    • Vietnamese lemongrass baby back ribs
    • Soba noodle & Herb salad (mint, fish mint, thai basil, coriander, scallions, lime juice, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, etc....)
    • Green Papaya salad
    2) Spanish pinchos party?
    • Pork butt pinchos
    • ..... (have to look up more ideas)
    • SANGRIA!
    Tough choice: I've wanted to make a big Sangria ever since I stumbled upon Ferran Adria's (simple) recipe. I have a recipe for amazing pork butt pinchos, but my Spanish ideas stop there (so far). 

    On the other hand I've been craving Korean short ribs for a while, and I really want to try those Japanese lacquered pork belly skewers (I've never made those before): 

     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  9. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I was just about to suggest this...hiring a person.
     
  10. michaelga

    michaelga

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    For simplicity in cooking you could go from skewers over charcoal to 

    Asian Fondue styles have 2 or 3 broth stations and one oil based cooking mediums.

    For simplicity have the meat pre-speared on bamboo, that way people don't have to be handling raw items.

    A variety of marinated / brined proteins, with lots of different dipping sauces and flat breads / lettuce cups etc.

    Several stations with larger decorative pots on induction burners works well.

    Combine with various light asian slaws and salads and cold cooked seafood on ice a bunch of fresh pickles.

    Should feed a bunch and all be doable before the guests arrive.
     
  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Skewers for 30 people?  You'll be prepping for days.  I've done souvlaki parties and they are a nightmare, never again!  Try this - make a skewer night just for 4 people this week and make 3 different kinds of skewers.  You'll pass out from all the work, and then imagine doing it for 30.  Save yourself!
     
  12. durangojo

    durangojo

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    then after prepping the 360 or so skewers, you get to grill them!......you'll never be free of the grill...kk's right, save yourself! Your asian skewer menu sounds wonderful though,maybe just better suited for a smaller party. I wouldn't want to serve something at a party that I have never made before without a trial run....you will already have enough angst going on without adding that to the mix. thought on your 'ponchos' menu, maybe broaden it to tapas.....not just speared food. paella which I know is neither ponchos nor tapas might be a nice dish to build upon. Is it not a quintessential Spanish dish? Mixed grill of spanish sausages and meats is another thought.
    Isn't Spain famous for their Cerdo Iberia?
    joey
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    chefedb has a recipe for Sangria for a crowd.

    Really tasty and soo easy.

    ed?

    mimi
     
  14. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks guys! Hmmm Kouk' and Joey, you guys are scaring me... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif  It's true that skewering takes time, I've done skewers for 4-6 before and all the prep work is tiring... but people do love them. 

    Joey I hear you on trying new things the night of the party... but that's kinda what I've always done. See I have a rather small family and they don't all eat everything, so when I have a party, for me it's the occasion to try new things for myself while sharing them with my friends. I've been usually successful.... as long as it's nothing TOO new. I mean I wouldn't smoke brisket for the first time the night I have a party!!! But the little pork belly skewers for example: I've never done them, but that doesn't really scare me. 

    I'm tempted to go with Asian because I'm a bit more comfortable with that vs Spanish tapas. I may change my mind of course... I often do. I've always dreamt of having a large paella party but that is one thing that actually scares me, even though I've made paella for 8 before, I would be kinda scared to make it for 30. One day, hopefully, but not this week. 

    Ok so maybe I'll try to find a way to make the whole process a bit more efficient.
    • Pork belly skewers = 1 piece per skewer
    • Satays = 1 piece per skewer
    • Korean short ribs = no skewer
    • Baby back ribs = no skewer
    Once at the store I may change my mind depending on the prices of meats etc... I was also thinking of marinating some chicken wings... quick easy, no skewers, most people love them. Also in my mind the idea of making some kind of ground meat... for example little lemongrass/pork patties (if I make the patties lemongrass/pork then I wouldn't do the ribs). 

    Thanks again for all your idea sharing guys. Really appreciate it!
     
  15. siduri

    siduri

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    Two thoughts

    one.  what if you DON'T do a barbecue (just thinking outside the box).  Barbecuing is time-intensive, and has to be done fresh, except perhaps grilled vegetables (you can grill eggplants and peppers, belgian endive and/or radicchio and zucchine, then marinade them in oil and garlic and pepper, maybe a small pinch of origano and a hint of vinegar for the eggplant, maybe some thyme for the peppers and the zucchine, maybe nothing but salt and pepper for the endive (or put some gorgonzola or other stinky type cheese on top and let it melt). And/or make bruschetta, which can be done in advance.  So don't do a barbecue and make food, but eat it outside!  Who says eating outside requires barbecuing? 

    two.  You can grill something large - if your grill has a rotisserie, you can do a large piece of lamb or beef or pork.  I'm no griller, i can barely light a fire one time in ten and so i never bother.  But if you're good at grilling, a nice large roast is really good on the grill.  And if you have one of those fancy grills that you can make pizza or bread on, you make a couple of loaves of home made bread the morning of the party, and knock them off their feet with that! 

    Then make lots of other cold side dishes- rice salad, potato salad, panzanella, and get ottolenghi's Plenty for some incredibly interesting vegetable dishes.  Maybe a cold fish dish, or meat salad (boiled beef with lots of parsley and garlic and oil, or chicken salad with celery and carrots and raisins and apple and curry,  or vitello tonnato or other.  But really, it's not necessary to have a lot of meat dishes if you have one good one and very tasty sides. 
     
  16. durangojo

    durangojo

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    FF,
    Whatever you decide to do and however you decide to do it I wish you a great evening spent with good friends....life is too short to sweat the small stuff, for sure.....
    Seriously and joyously enjoy your party! Salud...

    joey
    ps....if you go with your delightful but tedious asian skewers, I'll almost wager you'll be trying to bribe your young son near the end! ;)
    pps...any specialty drink if you go Asian? thai iced tea with a kick perhaps?
    This is not a drink but a fruit...have you heard of or tried rambutan? looks like a small sea urchin and tastes like a bit of heaven....might be an interesting little dessert nibble
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
  17. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks again for your comments siduri and Joey. 

    siduri, I just kinda have to (or is it want to?) have a barbecue party. We're in southern California, the heat is on, the sun is out, we have to celebrate the summer, and I don't really want to be inside or have the oven on in this heat. I don't know, I wouldn't even really consider not doing a barbecue... I ... just... couldn't. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    Joey, thanks! I have no idea regarding Asian drinks honestly. I was just thinking beers, and open a few bottles of wine. I've had fresh Rambutan in Hawaii!! Absolutely loved it. It's kinda like a hairy lychee, we used to eat lychees in France. That's a GREAT idea, I'll get some of those at the Asian store. 
     
  18. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Don't put cooked to order items that you have to do.
     
  19. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Of course you should have a BBQ if you want to.  It is a lot of work but you know that.  We recently did a lamb on a spit and even though it spins on its own for 6hrs you still have to have keep lighting new charcoals and be there the whole time.  The best thing you can do is have someone help you with carrying the platters of meat in and out, the whole point is that you cannot do this on your own - make job assignments that will include your guests and take some of the pressure off of you.  And of course if you're manning the grill on your own you'll have to change your shirt frequently lest you smell like sweaty smoke which is always what ends up happening here.
     
  20. durangojo

    durangojo

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    FF, fwiw i think you could still go with a sangria with your skewer/ BBQ menu...a white wine sangria would be wonderfully thirst quenching and refreshing in your SoCal heat....maybe adding ginger and mint for an Asian twist.....do you know of 'Canton'? It is a French cognac and vietnamese baby ginger liqueur.....truly delightful and totally addictive....great to sip chilled or over ice...I urge you to try it if you have not.....might be nice to add to a white wine sangria or have a chilled bottle on hand for your party...right next to a big bowl of rambutans! trust me on this, you won't be disappointed. ;)

    joey