Need potluck main dish for 40-50 for party at our home

jennOctober 23, 2012

We will be hosting a casual potluck at our home for 40-50 people in December and need to contribute a main dish. Our crock pot will be full of hot spiced cider. Everyone will contribute a dish, we don't use a list to assign dishes other than last name from A-M takes dessert otherwise take an appetizer or main dish, and somehow it all works out. :-)

Since this will be at our home, I don't want an expensive, complicated labor-intensive dish. Also, not too heavy or rich since there will be other food.

Ideas include:

Lasagna (make ahead)

Meatballs (make ahead) in good marinara (also make-ahead) -- but what to serve in?

Casserole -- not heavy and cream-ladened

This is also an opportunity to try something new but T&T, and would love some ideas.

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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I'd do several chili's. Beef, vegetarian, white chicken. Have lots of toppings.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Would Italian Beef fill the bill? It is my go-to dish for parties, always successful and very easy. I usually make it and freeze it, needing only to thaw and heat it on party day.


Beef Chuck roast, boneless but with plenty of fat
White onions, cut in large chunks
Garlic, several heads, separated into peeled cloves
Salt and black pepper

In a roaster or deep pot you cover either with its own lid or foil place the beef, onions, garlic cloves. Salt and pepper liberally, add just enough water or red wine to the pot so the meat won't burn before the juices begin flowing. Roast at 275* for several hours, until meat is tender and can be shredded. There will be lots and lots of juice, so use a deep enough pot. Refrigerate overnite, remove congealed fat, shred the meat, freeze with juice until needed.

Thaw in fridge, reheat juice and meat in deep pots and serve on hard rolls with Giardiniera or fried green peppers or both.

I'm sorry I cannot be specific about amounts for as much as you need, but I just don't know them! I know I use about 5 lbs meat, one head garlic, and about 5 or 6 large onions for about 18 to 20 very generous, juicy sandwiches.

This really is about as easy as you can get for a big crowd. I have made it for 60 in batches, just guessing as I go along about how much will be enough.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Good but not heavy and cream laden, now that is a tough challenge, lol! I just want to add that I have twice made enchiladas with chicken with a green sauce, and it was OMG tasty. The way I make it is rather "cheese laden" but it can be done lighter. The great thing about this dish is you can assemble in advance and then bake the day of the potluck, and if it gets good and hot, it holds the heat well.

Below is a link to my enchladas verde thread. I used a recipe that was kind of a combination of all of them. Sometimes I'm just lazy and use store bought sauce.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:22PM
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I live in the south and puled pork BBQ is very common down here. Definitely easy to make ahead.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Thank you all for these wonderful suggestions.

I should add that there will be many other main dishes, not just ours. In fact, about half of those coming will bring a main dish, so the meal will not center around ours.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:58PM
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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo served over rice
Swedish Meatballs with buttered noodles
Beef Brisket with boiled potatoes
Sweet & Sour Meatballs served over rice
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Ham
Chicken Chasseur over rice
Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

You can always bake rice in casserole dishes, which will help it stay hot as well.

Some casseroles can be made ahead and frozen, which takes some of the last minute pressure off of the hosts. Or, you can make the meatballs or meat sauce ahead and freeze, then just heat up in the sauce in the oven.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

If you want easy, cheap and good, I would do pulled pork too and add some small rolls on the side.
Boston Butts smoked on the grill can be made a day or two ahead. Or way ahead and frozen.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 3:51PM
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I would vite for a big baked ham. Nothing could be easier and it can be eaten almost any temperature and either in a roll or just on a plate.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Love the ham idea! With small rolls and grainy mustard on the side...

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 5:54PM
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I'm almost embarrassed to recommend this dish..yet again! Many hear have used it and never a complaint. But it works, is always a crowd pleaser, can be made well in advance and served hot or warm. I never use a whole bird I just use and moist!

Don't let the "unusual" ingredients put you of...they disappear...promise.
Chicken Marbella

9 pound chicken - either whole birds quartered
-or a combo of thighs and breasts (If
-using breasts be sure not to
1 head garlic peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish olives
1/2 cup capers and a bit of the juice
6 Bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley -- chopped

Combine chicken garlic, oregano,salt,vinegar, oil, prunes, olives. capers and bay leaves. Marinate & refrigerate overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large baking dishes. Spoon marinade over evenly. Sprinkle chicken evenly with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Bake in a for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350. Do not over cook.

Transfer chicken and prunes etc to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Pass the remaining sauce in a sauceboat.

If preparing a few days in advance refrigerate cooked chicken in the sauce and allow to come to room temp before reheating, just until warmed through.

If serving cold allow to come to room temp before serving.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:22PM
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You say 40 to 50 that means 20 to 25 couples.,...half bringing that leaves about 10 bringing main dishes or appetizers.
So...does everyone bring food for 40 or 50? or do you say every bring enough for say 20....or 15?
I can imagine that there are a lot of :saucy things with pasta"....and understand why you would not want too rich or heavy a meal. Does anyone ever bring a salad/ Like that 7 layer salad? or the one with cabbage and ramen noodles?...Or another I am thinking of with raw cauliflower, raw broccoli and chopped red peppers....pretty for Christmas.

I have a ham loaf recipe that serves a bunch contains 5 pounds of meat so it will serve 25 easily. Can be made ahead and re-heated.`
Also a baked pineapple dish scaled for food service size cans of fruit.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Pastitsio - Perhaps a little heavy but then you were already thinking of lasagna which I'd consider heavy. Lamb, cinnamon and nutmeg all say holiday season to me!

I've got a few recipes that I use, but would recommend CI's as simple and good. If interested, I'll find the recipe online or type it up.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Thanks again for yet more great ideas. That Chicken Marbella sounds like it will become a new meal in our rotation at home!

Linda you are correct: Most will come as a couple, and each couple (or person coming alone) brings a dish. I think everyone brings food for about 15 since portions are small with all the food available.

Pastitsio sounds wonderful, though my husband does not care for lamb. Could I use ground beef for lamb? The heaviness of the bechamel sauce would be about the same as lasagna.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:44PM
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When I first read your post, Chicken Marbella was my first thought and by the time I got further down the post, saw that Chase had already posted it. When I make it for a crowd, I use all bone-in thighs so the pieces cook more evenly than a mix of different parts.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:33PM
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Jenn, I always use ground beef in pastitsio, as I do not care for lamb and ground lamb is nearly impossible to find here. It works fine although Elery really, really likes it with lamb.

I also like the idea of a ham maybe with some sweet potato biscuits or the beef with small slider type rolls for sandwiches.

Whatever you decide, have fun!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:53PM
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I had a birthday party about a month ago and had 40 to 50 guests. Things I made for that party are:

Crock pot pulled-pork BBQ
Cabbage and Ramen noodle slaw
Cornbread casserole
Cold Cucumber Yogurt Soup

I also have an annual Halloween party with that many guests or more and have had:

Roast pork tenderloins (with apricot-onion sauce)
Swedish meatballs
Feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew)
Saag Paneer (Indian curried spinich w/ cheese)

Just some more ideas that might help. Although several of these work best kept warm in a crockpot. You say your crockpot will be in use warming cider, maybe it'd be worth buying (or borrowing) another one, since they really are handy, especially if you are hosting.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:56AM
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I'm a big fan of meatballs so that'd be a first choice for me. A good ham, even a turkey would be simple as would be the pulled pork. A good hearty chicken salad (a good one with nuts, grapes, etc) would be on my plate too. A spread of meats and cheeses for a build your own sandwich would be good too with good quality buns, breads or the like. Even a mini salad bar would be nice and could be used for topping a sandwich if they should so choose. Or go one better for a taco bar. Is this going to be a standing, walkaround affair or sit down? Soup and chili are not good options for stand and mingle but it's a good time of year for it. A lighter scalloped potatoes and ham would work well too.

If the food needs to be out a long time though, I'd definitely look for some electric roasters, crockpots, even electric frypans wok well as a chafing dish

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Since someone already mentioned 2 of my ideas - (pastitso and Brazilian black bean stew) how about a great big chicken pot-pie or chicken and dumplings?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:32PM
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I'd love to get your recipe for Brazilian Black Bean Stew, I make it fairly often from my own recipe and I'd love to see another recipe for ideas for possible improvements.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Here is the recipe for Brazilian Black Bean Stew I've used for years. The original recipe did call for vinegar, which you could add but I don't use it.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground chuck
2 chorizos, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, un-drained
2 10 1/2 oz. cans black beans
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt, pepper to taste
3 Tbs. olive oil
In large pot, brown ground chuck in olive oil, add chorizos, onion, bell pepper, garlic. Saute until onions are tender. Add tomatoes, breaking them up in pot, add beans and seasonings. Add just enough water to cover. Simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Remove lid at end of cooking to slightly thicken. Serve over rice.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Well, I've been informed that since we are hosting this party we should NOT contribute a dish.

However, all is not lost!! I've now got a great bunch of new recipes to try, thanks to you who shared them. The Chicken Marbella is one I've wanted to try for years and will definitely be making it soon. And the others as well.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 4:22PM
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