Tips and handy hints for feeding a crowd

Tips and handy hints for feeding a crowd

Feed a crowd of family and friends without getting in a flap with these easy ideas and clever hints and tips. It’s not always as simple as it sounds when it comes to doubling-up recipes to feed a crowd. Some recipes like cakes and yeast breads don’t often work successfully, other dishes like bolognaise sauce, casseroles, and meaty pasta bakes work really well.

  • As a guide, home cooks shouldn’t scale up past 3 or 4 times the original recipe. Domestic kitchens generally don’t have enough space and equipment to cope with the workload (and it’s a chore for the cook).
  • Get yourself prepared by breaking it all down into tasks. Shop and prep one day, cook and store the next day.
  • Work in a cool kitchen. You’ll keep your cool, and the food will be kept at a safe temperature as you cook.
  • Adjusting cooking times. This will depend on the size of the dish or pan you are cooking in. When you’re cooking on the cooktop, keep the time close to the original recipe. Check often for doneness after that. However, if you have a batch of dishes cooking in the oven you can expect dishes to take longer to cook or heat through.
  • Adjusting temperature. Stick with the cooking temperature in the recipe. For batch cooking of casseroles or pasta bakes in the oven, you can raise the original temperature by 25ºC.

A note on spices on seasonings

Go with the start low rule, you can always add more but you can’t take it out!

These delicious recipes can be easily scaled up

Making the best lasagne

Beef with almonds and green olives

Lamb and red bean casserole

Stews and casseroles are the perfect do ahead dishes

They freeze very well, as do mince based dishes such as bolognaise sauce. Dishes such as fully cooked braised meat dishes are best not frozen.  The general rule is that the meat dish should have sufficient liquid to cover the meat, you can add a little boiled water to the sauce if needed. This can be reduced when reheating the dish.

Essential tips

  • Casseroles and mince dishes should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after steam has evaporated.
  • Cool cooked dishes as quickly as possible by placing into a shallow container until the steam has evaporated and then into the fridge or freezer.
  • Do not leave to cool completely on the bench.
  • These dishes can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • To serve, bring to the boil slowly over a medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the meat and sauce are both thoroughly hot.

Calculating meat quantities

How much meat should you buy to feed a crowd when you want to impress with a large beef or lamb roast dinner party?

  • For each serving allow about 250g uncooked boneless meat or 375g uncooked bone-in meat.
  • These amounts take into account the fact you may need to trim a little fat from the meat and the fact that the meat will shrink in weight during the cooking time.
  • Rest the meat for about 20 minutes before serving, the meat will lose less juice when you carve it and it will be juicier and tastier.

How long can you store vacuum-packed meat at home?

  • Long-term storage of vacuum-packed meat is not advised.
  • It must always be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Check its use-by-date and use within that time.
  • If it is a large piece like a whole sirloin store it with the fat side up to prevent the juices in the package seeping into the fat.
  • Once opened vacuum-packed meat must be used as soon as possible, within two days is best.
  • When opening vacuum-packed meat you may notice an odour. This is called a ‘confinement odour’ and they are normal for meat confined within a pack. Typical confinement odours dissipate soon after the pack is opened and the meat is exposed to air.

To take out all of the guesswork, particularly when cooking a large roasts use a meat thermometer

It is the easiest and most accurate way to determine the degree of doneness.

Essential tip

The temperature of your fridge and freezer is important

It is vital to consider food safety when entertaining. Regularly check that both the fridge and freezer operate at these temperatures:

  • Fridge temperature: 4ºC to 5ºC
  • Freezer temperature: -15ºC to -18ºC

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