Cooking for a Crowd

Part 1: Doubling the recipe may not work

More of this Feature
Part 1: Double or not?
Part 2: Preparation Tips
Part 3: Cooking for a Crowd Recipes




Whether you've agreed to bring a dish for 12 or 24 to a potluck dinner or have completely flipped and need to cook for a guestlist of 50 or 100, one of these days you will probably have a need for large quantity recipes. You'll find plenty of recipes below whether you're cooking for a crowd, planning a buffet, or just a very large family, plus tips on organization so you won't be stuck in the kitchen while your guests are having all the fun.

Safety First
Obviously the most important consideration when feeding a crowd is proper safety measures. You wouldn't want to make anyone sick at that potluck dinner. Cleanliness is paramount. When cooking large batches of food, it's important that they are cooked thoroughly all the way through. If you are transporting food, you must think ahead to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold for the duration of the trip and during the serving period.

To Double or Not To Double?
Many standard recipes can be multiplied to feed larger crowds. However, not all ingredients need to be multiplied. For example, fat needed for sauteing need not be multiplied, as long as you have a proper amount to cover the bottom of the pan. Cooking times may not necessarily need to be multiplied by the same factor as the recipe ingredients. Some dishes may take less than double time and some may take even more, depending on the size of the dish. Use an instant-read thermometer to be sure foods are cooked thoroughly. You may expect a recipe to serve four that you have quadrupled will serve sixteen, but it will most likely serve more. Avoid multiplying by an odd number. For some odd reason, they just don't turn out as well. Division usually works well on those recipes that are too large for your purposes.






Preparation Tips
It goes without saying that planning ahead will relieve the stress of cooking for a crowd and help you to get out of the kitchen faster. Here are a few tips:

Make a list of all dishes you plan on serving, and consider the cost of the ingredients you will need as you choose your recipe(s).
Make a shopping list from your recipe(s). Check it twice.
Some kitchen work can be done ahead of time, such as chopping vegetables, pre-cooking beans, veggies or meats for soups and stews, sandwiches, and dessert items.
Decide in advance which recipes to make first. Plan cooking and preparation times accordingly.
Plan ahead to have space in your refrigerator or stove for all you will be cooking. And don't forget you will also need to store leftovers. Those large dishes need space!
Be sure you have pots, pans and serving dishes large enough to prepare and serve your recipe(s).
Crock-pots are perfect for keeping foods warm. Plan on borrowing an extra one for a large party.
To keep foods cold, nestle the serving dish in a bowl or tray of ice. An ice chest can also come in handy.
Be sure you have enough serving utensils, and bring them if you are transporting the food.
When transporting food, plan in advance how your food will be kept hot or cold.
Be realistic about how much you can do by yourself. Enlist help and delegate chores so you don't get overwhelmed.


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