Last night, it suddenly occurs to me that I no longer feel stress when I have to cook for a crowd. I used to worry so much and plan and agonize. But now, I have 5 favorites I can pull out to feed 5 or 40 (or more). I thought I'd pass them along, and perhaps you can add your own suggestions in the comments.
I like easy and cheap, so here goes (in order of increasing difficulty). Number 2 and 3 are great for our vegetarian friends. You can also use vegetarian substitutes for the chili.
1. Pulled Pork BBQ: Put several pork loins in a crock pot with broth and one can of coke covering. Cook all day. 30 minutes before guests arrive, drain liquid, shred pork, and add your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve on big rolls. Offer corn on the cob and salad. If you have the energy, make Bobby Flay's Cole Slaw.
2. Tacos and Burrito Bar: Make a huge pot of rice (6 cups depending on crowd) and add cans of black beans and some sauteed chopped onions and garlic. Then, brown turkey or beef and season. Heat up some refried beans. Put out bowls of cheese, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, diced tomatoes, taco shells, and tortillas. Let guests build tacos, burritos, or taco salad if they wish.
3. Brenner (Breakfast for Dinner): My husband and I have lots of fun flipping pancakes for dinner for a crowd. The day before, I make Emeril Lagasse's Breakfast Casserole and cook one hour before event.
4. Chili: Dump into a crock pot cans of diced tomatoes and kidney beans. Add some water and some chili seasoning that you like. Brown turkey or beef and add to the pot. Cook all day. Serve with various toppings like chives, cheese, chips, and sour cream. Make tons of cornbread from a mix. Toss a salad. Yum!
5. London Broil: When London Broil is on sale or buy one get one free, you can marinate them all day and grill them when your guests come. Slice and serve with baked potatoes and salad.
Easy desserts include ice cream with a topping bar, a bakery cake, or brownies. Don't forget the decaf coffee!
What's your favorite meal to serve a crowd?