Ok great minds, I need your help. I'm having 50 or so over in August for a dinner.

Guest usually bring a salad, dessert, or starter and we provide the main. But I want to change things up a bit. I want to do one long straight table down the center of our yard and want everyone to eat at once. I want to put the main down the center of the table so we all eat at the same time vrs shifts and hopefully will evoke good conversation. I need ideas for the main that I can prepare in advance. Thank you in advance!!

  • Posted by: tbrooks
  • July 25, 2012


Samuel W. July 26, 2012
There are a number of options to feed 50. It is not as overwhelming as you may think. If you just have to provide the meat or entree, one possibility is to do a pork butt in smoker - you can smoke 3-4 depending on size. First, tenderize with a marinade or brine - don't use a lot of salt in the brine - use brown sugar, peppercorns, spices and rice vinegar. Then dry, and put on a spice rub for the smoke. Use LOW heat for a 4-5 hr . Using the smoker is an outside job so you don't heat the house in August. Another choice for summer would be cold fish dishes - poach several sides of salmon in a court-bouillon of white wine with spices and lemon, bring just under a boil, let the fish poach 10-15 min, and cool in the liquid - should be very moist, then put in the fridge to cool. You can make it fancy by thinly slicing cucumber or lemons and layering them on the fish in a scale pattern. You can poach other fish and place them around. If you have the money, a large baron of beef would easily feed 50. A less expensive and more down home idea is grilled sausages with peppers.
If you want other ideas, email me at [email protected] , Bonne Chance ! Just be organized and have someone available to run to the store at the last minute. Of course, standard salads and watermelon are easy to do ahead so everything comes to the table at the same time. Anything with farm fresh tomatoes is a thing of beauty.
cthewrld July 25, 2012
We just did a dinner for 45. We made 2 pork shoulders, and 1 beef brisket. Cooked them low and slow on 2 bbq's which gave us lots of time to hang out with our guests. Once they were ready we used our homemade BBQ sauce and some active fork action, to turn them into pulled pork and brisket. It was a great hit and enjoyed by all. We have also done a pig roast for large groups in the past. Very easy to do.
garlic&lemon July 25, 2012
I did something very similar with grilled salmon, which I then gently flaked (chunks) and set out with all the fixins for fish tacos (cilantro/cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, crema, avocados or guacamole). There was no danger of the fish going bad because it disappeared quickly. And you can always sautee some mushrooms or calabacitas (corn, summer squash, onions and green chile) for the vegetarians or people who just like veggies. Your main challenge with this one is roping several people into warming up the tortillas for 50 people.
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 25, 2012
What about a rtro of kabobs (beef, chicken lamb or shrimp) with sauces served on a platter with corn pieces, grilled veggies, vinegary potato salad, tomato salad etc. Doing this next week for about 12-15 people.
kbckitchen July 25, 2012
Oops did not see summer of eggplants ideas. Repeat!
kbckitchen July 25, 2012
I love a low country shrimp boil aka Frogmore Stew. Smoked sausage, corn on the cob and shrimp all boiled together. Of course the shrimp go in last! Great crowd pleaser
Summer O. July 25, 2012
I think the paella idea is a great one and you could do a vegetarian one, a meat one and a seafood one and avoid offending differing diets. I would also offer a frogmore stew, while not particularly elegant it is tasty. While I attend a lot of low country boils with my family in SC, we attended one here in Atlanta that is very similar to what you describe. One long big table, everyone chipped in salads and appetizers. The hosts added clams and other shellfish in with the shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. All you really need is a turkey fryer or two.

Voted the Best Reply!

savorthis July 25, 2012
We love doing a big vat of carnitas with all the trimmings and have an assemble your own taco bar. I cut a pork shoulder into large chunks, season with s&p, brown in batches, then add some onion, garlic, spicy oregano and saute a bit. Squeeze in the juice of an orange, through in spent halves with a cup or so of whole milk, then water to just cover meat (adjust accordingly for more meat). Put in oven, covered until very tender (couple hours), then remove cover, crank heat and cook until liquid is almost evaporated and shred. Serve with pickled red onion, tomatillo salsa, crumbled cotija, avocado, limes and cilantro. Have guests bring salad or slaw, mexican corn, beans etc.
ChrisBird July 25, 2012
I would imagine a line of whole poached salmon, stuffed with herbs and lemons, with slices of lemon laid down the sides + some mayonnaise would loom spectacular and taste good too.
Easy, salads sides.. Filled potato, watermelon, or so based salads sound good to me.
Of course served at ambient temp, not not.
inpatskitchen July 25, 2012
I like pierino's idea but maybe beef tenderloin would be easier to manage (I mean with carving) and is excellent at room temp with a couple of sauces. Or combine the beef and add whole poached salmon with cucumber- dill sauce.
ChefJune July 25, 2012
I like this idea, but I'd go with a whole GRILLED salmon! I did one a few years back and it was spectacular. Seasoned with salt and pepper and dill, and slicked with olive oil. It looked spectacular, tasted delicious, fed a herd of folks, and was SO easy (and cooked quickly). I ordered my fish through the Alaska Seafood Board in Anchorage.
pierino July 25, 2012
Salmon grilled or poached is great. But for 50 guests you will probably need at least three fish. Also outside, you have to factor in the service setup and salmon is pretty perishable in the great outdoors. It does though, make a terrific meal. Perhaps the host would want to engage a carver with a really sharp fish knife to portion it out.
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 25, 2012
Any experience with doing a clam bake, seafood boil or paella?
pierino July 25, 2012
That would be one mighty big paella pan or at least 20 smaller ones, each set over it's individual fire.
HalfPint July 25, 2012
For the meat entree, kalbi (Korean spareribs) can be cooked ahead of time and warmed just before serving.

For the vegetarian entree, ratatouille or an Israeli couscous pilaf this is one: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Israeli-Moroccan-Couscous/
pierino July 25, 2012
Kalbi is a good suggestion. But they use short ribs not spareribs. Delicious off the grill. You will need a "flanken" cut and to do it the traditional way about 50 pairs of scissors. Of course you can portion it out yourself as it comes off the grill. Stock up on the kimchi or bury some homemade in jars in your backyard.
HalfPint July 25, 2012
yes, short ribs, not spareribs (though that would be tasty in the kalbi marinade too). my bad.
pierino July 25, 2012
Always an interesting challenge and it's one I face all the time. My first thought is a standing rib roast---you'll need about three of them. I like to use an internal brine and rub the outside with oil and rosemary. This can be served hot or cold if you know how to properly carve. Outdoors, cold is probably best served with rolls and horseradish sauce.
And of course these days you have to deal with the vegbollah and the gluten-free fadists. So take that into account. I like your plan for the long table.
Recommended by Food52