I feel like a deer in the headlights....

calilooJune 24, 2012

I know I should be able to do this without batting an eye, but I am stressing about an event I am "cooking" for next Saturday. This is a fundraiser (trap shoot at an outdoor range) for one of our local clubs, and I am preparing "lunch" for about 30 participants. Here's where it becomes tricky:

I don't know what the protein will be yet. Hopefully I will know by Tuesday - one of our local organic farmers is "donating" the protein - it could be pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches or pre-formed burgers or sausage or brisket or hot dogs or some combination (no chicken for whatever reason). I may have the option of choosing from the list, but since it is a donation, the club has asked me not to pressure the farmer into giving us anything specific.

I left a message for the farmer and said "If it is shoulder or brisket, can I pick it up by Wednesday?" so I would have time to cook it at home and bring up steam trays with sterno. I think I would almost prefer one of these options.

One of the guys said he would bring a gas grill - I have no idea what size or any details.

There is no electricity or refrigeration except for coolers and ice packs.

Lunch is served from 11:00 AM until 2:00PM.

It is all men, so no frou-frou food (as per request by the board).

I will have a tent to set up under and hopefully tables.

And it is supposed to be upper 90's with a heat index of 110 (as of the extended forecast today).

AND I cant do any prep on Thursday since my DH is away on business and I will be responsible for taking both boys to the swim meet which is an hour away and we probably will have to leave by 5PM and won't be back until 10-ish.

If you were in my position....

1. Would you have a preference as to what to make if it is offered? If I can serve a combination (like BBQ Pork and hot dogs) what combination would you choose?

2. Would you offer sides like cole slaw and potato salad and just try to put out very small servings and keep it chilled? Chips will also be available.

3. The only beverages will be water and Iced Tea - would you offer canned sodas and or Gatorade too?

Any other suggestions or advice would be appreciated. I really am dreading this on many levels.

Thanks in advance!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since it's going to be hot out, I'd do good homemade potato salad. Put it in two bowls and switch them every hour...one on the table and one kept in the cooler. You can always set the bowl on a bigger bowl of ice too.
Same with cole slaw or a pasta salad. A spaghetti salad would work well too.

Meat... if it's ground beef and the only heat source is Sterno, Sloppy Joe's are easy. If you are deal with beef roast then BBQ Beef for sandwiches or Italian Beef. Italian Beef you have to roast and slice and then make a marinade that you pour over and let marinate all night.

If you have pork, then pulled pork is the way to go.

Hot Dogs... just had those to the grill guy!

Buns and a few condiments, disposable plates, forks and napkins are about all you'll need.



    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 6:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have done barbecued shredded beef in a crockpot for groups sized 15, in my small crockpot. Is that an option, do you have a bigger one? Or perhaps two crockpots? This was under similar circumstances where I put the meat in the crockpot the night before a teacher workshop, went to bed and then took the finished results with me in the AM to the event. It was good. I think I just served regular bagged salad and I think maybe pasta salad or coleslaw or both. Something like that. And yes, brownies for dessert.

Guys love them some Gatorade. I can't stand the stuff!!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 6:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think canned sodas are a good idea. A bit of cold fizz is nice on a hot day. A big thermos container with a spigot of lemonade would be nice, too. I don't like Gatorade, either.

Watermelon wedges might be a good side in that heat. I don't think it counts as dessert. :) Cookies are easier than brownies. If you have ice chests, purchased ice cream bars or cups are also easy if not elegant


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 6:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would be careful with mayo in that heat. You don't want anyone to fall ill. Do you have a recipe for cole slaw or potato salad with vinaigrette?

Pulled pork would go down well. I had a party for about 20 people at our house and about 15 lbs of pulled pork disappeared in nothing flat. This was in addition to 20lb of grilled chicken. We had cole slaw as well, but it was a lot cooler when we did this.

I agree with the others, brownies or cookies would be a good way to end the meal. If you have access to a freezer, ice cream would go down well, but is more messy.

I'd serve sodas too.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jarred mayo is not to be feared. When I took a food safety class they said it was the potato's that could cause higher bacteria than the mayo. Todays commercially made mayo is high in acid. I've noticed how Hellman's doesn't even seal the top of the jars anymore.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree, Nancy, jarred mayo isn't an inherently dangerous product and I would worry more about the potatoes or the eggs than the mayo.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have much experience in mass cooking, but was just thinking -

Let's suppose you get hamburger patties or sausages. Easy in principle to do on the grill, but with 30 people and, being pessimistic, a medium-size home grill, that could be a long line. Is it possible to partly cook burgers ahead of time, e.g. in the oven, then wrap and refrigerate, bring to the event in a cooler, and finish cooking on a hotter-than-normal grill in much less time than if grilling a burger from raw? I did some searching and did find many references to doing this, some in catering-type threads, but have never tried it.

Oh - tell the guy bringing the grill to come with a FULL propane tank. Not "I think it is full, pretty full anyway" but "I picked this full tank up this morning". Nothing like watching the flame die out halfway through cooking.

If brisket or pork shoulder or some other slow-cooking meat, then you'll be able to do it ahead of time and simply reheat - in disposable aluminium trays on the grill maybe?

I think something like brisket and hot dogs, or pulled pork and burgers, would be a great combo. Cow and Pig, best friends.

Sides - I think as long as you have nested bowls with ice to keep food cool, and plenty of plastic wrap to keep said bowls covered, things like potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, melon slices, etc will be safe and pretty easy. I like the idea of dividing each dish into a few different containers, to be kept in the coolers until needed.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Alexa, with all those conditions, I think I would just make peanut butter sandwiches.

You're sure a trooper.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Heavens, this is easy!

If shoulder/brisket either slow cook or pressure cook, add a bbq sauce, pack in zip bags and heat as needed on the sterno. Burgers and dogs/sausages go on the grills. don't forget the condiments.

Coleslaw can be either mayo based or vinegar and oil.

Potatoes salad would be a warm "German" version, best made one to two days ahead. Serve air temp or heated in the sterno trays. No mayo worries for you or the guests.

Since the temps are hot, a selection of cut up fruit is good to have and can be kept cold with ice. watermelon is a perfect choice as it hydrates the sportsment too.

Water, tea and lemonade are perfect.

This sounds like fun!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would do stuff that can be maed ahead....to allow for the surprise meat.
Baked beans....from scratch...sweet with lots of smoky bacon.
slaw....or a slaw like salad........or a marinated veggi8e salad....with perhaps a little pasta added. Prepart the veggies the day or 2 before....refrigerate.....and put it all together the morning of.
And fruit salad....no dressing just a wonderful assortment of wonderful seasonal fruits....would have to be done at the last minute.
Then no matter the meat it will go.....no matter what, I would grill it or long slow bake and shred.
Oh and add some bars or brownies for dessert....iunless you want to create points with home made pies.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have an option I'd do pulled pork AND sliced brisket. That way you can give them a choice of sandwich but deal with only one type of bun and it lowers the numbers of condiments you need.

I also think you can get away with the meat being warm it doesn't have to be piping hot. I'd pull/slice it anytime during the week and then keep warm in large tin pans on the grill.

I'd avoid any mayo based salads. I'd do the requisite vinegar based slaw for the pulled pork and it also works as a side. This recipe from Woodie makes a ton, can be served at room temp, is very popular with guys, it would make a great salad option.

Pasta Salad - Woodie

1 lb small shell macaroni,cooked and drained
1/2 lb provolone cheese,diced
1/2 lb salami,diced
1/2 lb pepperoni,cut in half lengthwise then slice into cubes
3 lb tomatoes,seeded and diced
3 ribs celery,diced
1 green or red pepper,diced
1 can black olives
1 jar pimento stuffed green olives
1 red onion,diced

3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp basil
celery salt to taste

Mix dressing and pour over pasta, refrigerat

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much for all the great advice! I know this should come together fairly easily once I know what we are serving... like I said, I'm not sure why I am stressing, I think it is the threat of heat (which I can't STAND) that is making me wiggy.

Pasta salad and cole slaw will be great sides. They are definitely on the list. I think I am going to ask some of the non-participating members to donate cookies and brownies so I (hopefully) wont have to worry about dessert. I will skip the gatorade and offer Coke & Diet Coke with water and iced tea or lemonade - they will just have to deal with those options.

I am just going to wing it when it comes to the protein.

Thanks again for talking me off the ledge, I really got myself all worked up into a tizzy last night thinking about the hectic schedule this week and trying to pull this together.

You all are the best for offering help and suggestions! THanks again!


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Alexa, if there was anyone who could handle a "mystery meat" lunch with successful results, it would be you.

My first suggestion would be to buy yourself one of those battery operated flat fans on a neck cord. They're a great hands-free way to alleviate the heat.

No matter what you make, I would not serve it buffet style so the first guy in line doesn't load up his plate with six sandwiches' worth of pulled pork. Can you enlist a volunteer to dish out servings of the items?

I would use the grill for warming up things before transferring to stereo, not for grilling for 30 people. Hamburgers would be turned into sloppy joes or sausages to precooked Italian sausage, pepper and onions with red sauce for sandwiches.

For sides like coleslaw or potato salad, could you pack them in lidded plastic cups and just keep them in a cooler?

Consider strawberry shortcake for dessert at this time of year. You could bake some sponge cakes and precut into squares and cut up the strawberries ahead of time. That, and a couple of (gasp) cans of whipped cream and you'd have a dessert that would be a real treat.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Alexa - the suggestion to have portions ready is a good one. When we had our party, people ignored the rolls for the pulled pork sandwiches, and helped themselves to loads of pork. We had enough pork for everyone, but we had dozens of rolls over. You don't want to run out.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thansk again for the great advice! I will definitely have someone prepping sandwiches for portion control. Seems lunches will be staggered over the 3 hours, and you are right - I don't want the late comers to be left with crumbs.

I am feeling much better about the whole event.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What did you finally get for meat? And what did you decide to make?


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for asking!

I am doing 2 4 lb Boston Butts into pulled pork sandwiches. They are going now and will be pulled and refrigerated for Saturday. I also have 30 5 oz organic Angus burgers that I got talked into grilling (everyone I asked said they wanted to taste the "meat" not have it covered in sloppy joe sauce). Shrug, so I am doing burgers and pulled pork.

Sides are vinegar based cole slaw, vinegar based pasta salad, ABT's, pickle tray, chips, deviled eggs (in small containers kept on ice) watermelon and brownies.

One of the local restaurants is donating beverages, so I don't have to worry about those.

It is supposed to be in the upper 90's and I hate the heat. I got a great suggestion to get some cold packs that I can wrap in a bandana to keep around my neck and some small fans and misters.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 4:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sounds delicious and not a frou-frou in the bunch. I have never seen a deviled egg go home after a picnic.

That pork looks amazing. I had to look up ABT! I've seen them but never eaten one.

Stay cool and remember the sunscreen.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 5:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some people put Lil smokies in the ABTs, I skip them and add sharp cheddar to the cream cheese mixture before wrapping in bacon and cooking them off. Then topping them with a drizzle of Habanero Gold that has been slightly thinned. I'm guessing there wont be many leftovers!

Alexa (who hopes the food goes quickly so I can pack it in and head for the AC!)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 5:31PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
So what is "a bunch"?
It drives me crazy when recipes call for a bunch of...
Tried And True "Edible" Brownie Recipe? (Where Legal)
Here is a cooking question, more specifically a baking...
What happened to my soup?
Made a homemade chicken soup....carrots, onion, celery,...
Biscuit Experts
Can I substitute greek yogurt for buttermilk in a biscuit...
How to fix rock hard espresso powder? :p
I am VERY careful about trying to keep powders dry...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™