Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Party for 200: Part Two-What to Serve?

Figuring out what to serve for a gathering of 100-200 people isn't easy. We took several things into consideration when trying to decide the menu:

1. What dishes had been favorite in the past at family gatherings?
2. Was the food fairly easy to cook, and not overly expensive?
3. Would the food do well on a buffet table in warming trays?

We used 18 quart electric roasters to cook most of the food. We borrowed roasters from family and friends, who dropped them off at the hall that morning, or the day before the party. We went through one roaster each of the potatoes, green beans, baked beans, and the meatballs. There was a little bit of ham left at the end of the party.  My brother in law provided the fried chicken, picking it up a couple hours before the party. We kept it warm in the oven until it was time to serve the food. 

Menu items:
1 boneless ham, sliced and heated
100 pieces of fried chicken, prepared and kept warm
Cheesy Potatoes
Green Beans with Bacon
Baked Beans
Sweet and Sour meatballs
Swedish Meatballs
5-6 dozen rolls and butter

Brenda's Cheesy Potatoes

8 32 ounce bags frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
10 cups sour cream
5 12 ounce bags shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sauteed onion
4 Family size cans (26 ounces each) cream of chicken soup
16 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp

Drain the bacon on paper towel after cooking, set aside to cool. In a large bowl combine the sour cream, and the soup, undiluted. Whisk together until smooth. Place all of the hash browns in a roaster pan, top with onion and cheese. Add the sour cream mixture, and stir with a sturdy spoon. This will be fairly hard to do, but try to mix the ingredients as best you can. Cover the roaster and set the temperature to 350 degrees F. After 20-30 minutes, stir again. As the ingredients heat it will get become easier to stir. Crumble the bacon and add to the potatoes after an hour or so. Continue to stir every 1/2 hour. When the cheese has melted, and the potatoes have heating through, turn the temperature down to it's lowest setting. Keep the lid on until ready to serve.

Notes: The potatoes ran out just as all of the guests came through the line. This dish was a huge hit, and I wouldn't change a thing. I started out with a very basic recipe for six servings, and made changes as I went along. I found shredded hash browns worked better, plus I thawed them overnight in the refrigerator before using them in the recipe. I used a sweet onion for the recipe.

The Meatballs

The meatballs come in 5 pound bags from Gordon Food Service. These are a nice quality ground beef meatball that we've used for years. We went through 20 pounds of meatballs for the party. They were divided and put into roasters. The Swedish meatballs were made with cream of mushroom soup poured over, cooked until heated through and kept on warm until ready to serve. We purchased BBQ sauce, and cans of sweet and sour sauce, which we poured over the meatballs, the same method we used for the Swedish meatballs.

I remember serving Swedish meatballs at our wedding reception, over 23 years ago. Some dishes remain popular throughout the years and never fail to please people. While cooking for almost 200 people is exhausting, it's also rewarding. I loved that our 18 and 19 year old sons helped us cooks and serve the food for the party. Working beside them is something we'll all remember.