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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Feeding a crowd with roaster ovens

I was in charge of the food for last weeks' RS dinner, and spent a ton of time googling all over the web to find instructions on how to make the meal work. I didn't want the typical pot luck or ham dinner, but creativity can be a butt-kicker since most meals for a crowd on the Internet use commercial kitchens and cooking equipment meant for mass production. It worked out reasonably well and so in the spirit of paying it back I decided to post what I did here so that the next time someone was also goggling the how to, they might find this blog and get some answers, or at least idea starters for their own meal. All the cooked items were done in 18 quart roaster ovens--which is something I was able to beg and borrow from enough neighbors to make it work.

Salad:
Mock olive garden salad dressing x 4
15 heads of iceberg lettuce
1 #10 can of olives
4 standard size boxes of croutons
15 sliced tomatoes; slices cut in half

Mock Olive Garden Salad Dressing (I think I found this at Recipe Czar a year or so ago)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola)
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 1/2 T. grated Romano cheese (I used an Italian hard cheese blend)
2 T. dry pectin
2 T. egg Beaters
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Garlic
1/4 tsp. Parsley (I used dried)
pinch of Oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes.

Combine everything in a blender, mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Chill 1 hour.

**For this dinner I made the dressing a couple days before and stored in the fridge. A couple hours before the dinner I cored and rinsed the heads of lettuce and put them, cored side down, in big bowls of ice water to keep the lettuce cold and crispy. We then broke them into LARGE bowls, added dressing and tossed well. We put on a plate with 4 olives (we could have done up to 6), 5 croutons (just the right number), and one slice of tomato, sliced in half.

**WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: is drained the lettuce after breaking it into the bowls. The tight leaves held on to a lot of water which made the salad a little wet. Simply putting it in a colander and letting it drain for a couple minutes would have made a difference. I also wish I'd bought more tomatoes because I love them and we had to go kinda skimpy. I have to say I did not get many specific compliments on the salad. Not sure why since people are more kind than honest and I didn't get much specific feedback on it. But, it's just the salad, most people don't think about complimenting it anyway. I myself didn't get any as we ran out so I can't gauge it.

Main Dish:

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu x 10

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu (From my wonderful Friend Erin Klingler)

10 chicken tenders
20 slices of deli style ham (can use lunch meat type)
10 slices Swiss cheese (can use another type of white cheese)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 soup can of milk
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder (can use prepared mustard in a pinch)

Make sauce by combining soup, sour cream, milk, and mustard powder. Mix well and set aside.

Lay ham out on counter so that two slices overlap one another, you should have 10 2-slice portions. Place a slice of swish cheese in the center of each ham portion. Roll chicken tender in ham and cheese, place seam side down in the bottom of a crock pot. Cover with sauce. Cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low--do not stir. Serve over rice or noodles.


**A couple ladies in the ward met me at the church around noon and we did a mass production of the recipe. They laid out ham and cheese and I made sauce. We covered each layer with the sauce before adding the second layer and fit 50 chicken rolls in each roaster oven--2 layers. We then cooked it at 300 for about 5 hours. I had bought 7 bags of chicken tenders at Costco, and only used four. The serving size was listed at 4 oz., but a chicken tender is only about 2 oz. The cooking time was just right and the chicken turned out very well. I was able to turn it down to 200 for the last hour and a half because the chicken was fully cooked.

**WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: I miscalculated the ham and only ended up with one slice per chicken roll. This did not stay wrapped around the chicken as well, but it was still yummy. I also worried I wouldn't have enough soup and sour cream so I thinned out the sauce a little while making it. This was not good as the sauce was runnier than it should have been. It was still okay, and no one knew what it was SUPPOSED to be like, but I wish I hadn't cheaped out and had a thicker sauce. Ironically, I had both soup and sour cream left over. I got lots of rave reviews for the chicken and will definitely do it again should I get asked to do this again.

Rice

7 3.2 lb. containers of Organic Harvest Medley Wild Rice mix from Costco
2 containers of Chicken Stock from Costco.

I followed the water ratio on the back of the package to mix up the rice and can't remember how much I put in each roaster, but it was close to 18 cups of rice and 36 cups of water per roaster, adding 1/2 the chicken stock to the water of each of 2 roaster ovens. I then cooked it at varying temperatures for just over 2 hours. We served about 3/4 of a cup of this on the plate next to the chicken. We had nearly 1/2 a roaster oven worth of rice left over--this was the only item we had excess of.

WHAT I WISH I"D DONE: This was the most frustrating portion of the dinner and caused me a great deal of stress--the result was somewhat blah. I had worried that the chicken stock would be too strong so I ended up only using 1/2 a container per roaster instead of of a full one and the rice was bland. I should have used the whole thing of stock and then tasted it to see if it needed more salt. Also, I needed another hour for the rice. It turned out okay, but was a little too chewy and BARELY finished in time. 30 minutes before the dinner it was still swimming in the water and I had to turn the roasters up as high as they would go. I really should have experimented with this at home first. People said it was good and they took a lot of the left overs, but I was not pleased with it. Another option I had read about online was to make the rice ahead of time, store it in the freezer and then simply heat up. This would have been a pretty good idea. I could have frozen it in the roaster oven insert covered with foil quite easily and played with it more during the cooking process to get it just right, then heated it up over a few hours on low, fluffing the rice as I went. Being as I was frantically working on several aspects of dinner meant that I did not give it the attention I think would have benefited it greatly.

Vegetables

4 bags frozen California Blend Veggies from Sam's Club (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
1 bag frozen green beans
Rosemary Veggie Marinade x 5

Rosemary Veggie Marinade (From my good Friend Anne)

1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix 6 ingredients well, drizzle over veggies (fresh or frozen) and bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

*I made the marinade the morning of the dinner. That night, we combined 2 bags of California blend and 1/2 bag of green beans in 2 roaster ovens, and drizzled 1/2 the total marinade over each pan, tossing to coat the veggies as well as we could. Then we set the roasters to 400 and let them cook for an hour and a half. They turned out fragrant and yummy and were a nice change to the typical canned green beans that are often used at these types of dinners.

WHAT I WISH I'D DONE: I should have started the veggies at least an hour earlier. That much frozen food takes a while to heat up and toward the end I was worried and had to turn up the heat which scorched some of the veggies. I also would have made three more portions of the marinade so the flavor would have been stronger AND added another bag of California blend. We had EXACTLY enough, which is stress inducing when you get to the bottom of that final pan.

Rolls

We ordered 10 dozen rolls from Idle Isle Cafe, a local restaurant famous for their yummy rolls.

The total price for this dinner was about $350, and we fed about 115 people.

Overall, the meal was good and different. I should have given myself more time on the rice and the veggies, and I should have tried out everything at home before making it for such a large group. However, on a scale of one to ten I think I would give myself a pretty solid 6.75. It could have been better, but it could have been worse.

7 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

That is one seroius dinner. Holy cow. Thanks for all the details! I'll have to try some of the recipes.

Heather B. Moore said...

Sounds yummy!

Grandma 'D' said...

Wow, I am so impressed. No wonder Crystal is honing in on her cooking skills. The competition in the Scofield family is pretty tough. I mean I've heard about Marle's pies. Way to go Josi. What a great experience, have you thought about going into the catering business? The recipes sound yummy and I am sure they were all delicious. Next stop.....Relief Society Pres.

Whitney said...

Geez! Why'd they make you do ALL of it? I could understand one thing maybe two but everything?! Craziness! I would have had a mental break down. I give you an immense amount of kudos for being amazing. :)

Anna said...

I've lived in this area my whole life and never went to Isle Idle until earlier this year. The rolls were awesome. I love the jam they serve with them.

Sounds like a yummy dinner. If you like the mock recipes, and like Cafe Rio, I found a really good recipe for their taco salad, dressing, and rice. It was really good.

http://armellejewelry.blogspot.com/2007/10/cafe-rio-salad.html The only difference is I did regular milk instead of buttermilk for the dressing.

Josi said...

Whit--They didn't make me do all of it, I'm just controlling. They told me to ask people to help me, but then I got an idea of what I wanted to do and didn't want anyone telling me that "Hey, you need more time in the roaster for the rice" :-) I did have great people to help me in the kitchen that day, and we did a potluck on the desserts

Anna--I have those recipes and I LOVE em. I do very much enjoy mock recipes, they are a favorite of mine!

hi, it's me! melissa c said...

You go girl! I think I would rather roll over and die then cook for a bunch of people! lol My poor family suffers too. Cooking never was my thing.

I still remember your post on all the fun finger foods you'd made for your book signing. Dang! You are my inspiration, but girl, its just not gonna happen. I don't cook! I eat! lol