Dinner for 20 at a beach house

Cooking big family dinner Sunday for mix of kids and adults and don't want to spend all day in the kitchen. Can be grilled or made ahead

  • Posted by: Paulo
  • July 26, 2013


BoulderGalinTokyo August 1, 2013
For desert--well chilled watermelon. Put it out whole on a huge ground cloth or clean tarp. Play a game with your kids--blindfold the children one by one, gently spin them around 2 or 3 times. Give them a large, heavy stick or a cane. Send them in the direction of the watermelon and have them try breaking it like a pinata.

No trouble and very good for video and pictures.
lloreen July 27, 2013
Kebabs are a great idea. Just remember to not put too much meat on one skewer, or else to remove all the meat to a big platter because otherwise everyone will take a skewer and quite a few won't finish. This gets expensive for 20 people! Small pieces of beef or chicken interspersed with red onion slices are good.
A giant arugula salad with sliced summer peaches...a potato salad...a pasta or grain salad...some sliced veggies and hummus...if you can afford it maybe some shrimp and cocktail sauce....
drbabs July 27, 2013
We do this every summer. 18 of us. I make a big salad every night. (My mother bought two huge plastic salad bowls from the Dollar Store. They're perfect.) I have a bunch of salad recipes on this site--message me if you want specifics. Because everyone has different tastes, we buy a whole mess of bottled dressing and everyone uses what they like. (Not my favorite, but oh well.) We also buy fresh New Orleans French bread (we're on the Florida panhandle) every day and serve that with dinner.

Here's what we did--1st night--hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill
2nd David's Shrimp with Pasta (recipe is on Food52)
3rd Grilled filet mignon
4th kebabs with chicken and sausage
5th we went out
6th grilled chicken breasts and thighs
7th Make your own pizzas (We bought pre-made crusts and made pizzas of the leftover veggies--just bought a lot of cheese.

We also ate tons of fresh produce and kept cold cuts in teh house for sandwiches.

Also I baked almost every day--muffins, cakes, pies, cookies--and we went through ice cream by the gallon.

Oh, and lots and lots of wine.

I hope this helps--have fun!!

Voted the Best Reply!

sexyLAMBCHOPx July 27, 2013
I entertain large groups all the time at my home in the summer. What makes it manageable is kebabs. I have these double stainless skewers that I cook chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, veggies made to order or a la carte. So easy - something for everyone. Two days ago I used Inpatskitchen white Alabama sauce and that stole the show! The beef (flank) was a close second with her chimichurri. Seved a quick pickled cucumber salad, orzo veggie salad, corn on the cob and watermelon slices for dessert. Friends offer to bring something and I say yes to desserts and appetizers. I offer potato chips, pretzels, crudités with dip and popcorn to hold down the group while everything is grilled. Have fun.
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 27, 2013
Props go to sdebrango for her flank steak, check it out here: http://food52.com/recipes/13349-flank-steak-on-texas-toast-with-chimichurri
Sadassa_Ulna July 27, 2013
I am leaving for the beach today and will cook for nine (not twenty but still a crowd). These are great tips! For meals I was thinking of grilling chicken and other meats, a vegetarian pasta salad with cheese and a rice/peas/mint salad as room temp sides, romaine lettuce based green salad, maybe a vegan salad with beans and sunflower seeds etc. I don't like cooking in the oven in a beach house because sometimes A/C can't offset lots of people milling around but if it is cool enough I might bake some fish one night as a meat alternative. http://food52.com/recipes/22761-baked-herbed-cod-with-olives-and-lemon
Benny July 27, 2013
Cooking for that many people can be a challenge. Especially in the summer when you would rather be outside grilling. I always have difficulty managing that much food on my single grill.

I usually do a combination of three things:

1- cold salads made ahead of time
2- grilled items that take time and hold up well such as corn, potatoes or chicken legs
3- quick fire grilled items that have perhaps been pre-cooked ahead of time like braised ribs, skewered meatballs which have been simmered or a marinated flank steak. These things are done in 5 minutes.

This allows me to cook and serve for many people systematically and I don't have to spend the entire time in the kitchen or over the grill.
JanetFL July 27, 2013
A favorite with my neighbors during the summer is to simply put hamburgers on the grill and set up a table with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, etc., etc., and let everyone build their own burgers. We do like our buns grilled, if you have time to do that. And set out every condiment that you can think of plus some! Sides such as salads can be made ahead of time, as can desserts. Our most recent favorite is purchased mango sorbet with fresh mango slices and/or chopped pistachios. Easy, peasy!
Sam1148 July 26, 2013
Beach? What type of cookwear do you have and you do double batches.

My favorite..is a simple shrimp boil.
Using Zatarain's bagged spice. Salt and water.
In a large pot with strainer basket.
Put in 2 beers and the bag..and let that extract the flavors.
Add water, 2 lemons cut in half with juice..and salt. Bring to a boil.
While that's happening cut up smoked sausage in disks.
Add that to the pot.
Now add Irish potatoes you can cut those in quarter or half if they're large..or whole ones if they're small enough--skin on.
Add that to the pot and wait for boil again.
Now Shuck some corn and cut into thirds.
Add that to the pot. Boil again.
Then add 1 or 2 pounds of peel on shrimp.
Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cook...test the potatoes before you do this..so they'll be cooked well.

Remove the strainer insert from the big pot..and dump it all out on news print on a picnic table---with a salad..butter, cocktail sauce, and lemon wedges. And seasoning salt for the corn and potatoes.

Repeat it again for the next batch, because you have twenty people.
They'll serve themselves until you get the next batch ready.
People can pick over the meat element (the sausage) and seafood element and use the corn and potatoes and salad if they don't like either. (but it's all cooked together).
For the kids..they get the same thing; or some PB and J sandwiches made by their parents. (unless you have seafood alergy in the mix..then another dish as the host).
AntoniaJames July 29, 2013
I really like this, but of course, I'd expect the kids to make their own PB&J. Or recruit an older kid to make them for the littles. Any child who does not like what the rest of us are eating is kindly but quietly told, "You know where the kitchen is." Sometimes they don't come back to the table with PB&J, which is fine, of course, and usually interesting. ;o)
Valerie S. July 26, 2013
I think for kids you need pasta (plain with oil and cheese or mac-n-cheese) and hot dogs with buns and condiments, and then if you have a good farmer's market or butcher you can get good sausages to grill for the adults. Add a hearty salad and you're done. If you really want the do-ahead, make 2 mac-and-cheese casseroles in the a.m. and roast some summer vegetables to add to the salad the night before. Then you really have nothing to do time-of but grill.
ChefJune July 26, 2013
Much depends upon the cooking facilities you'll ahve at the beach house. Knowing that can help us suggest possible menu items. I suggest picking a thene for the meal. That will help you focus on a cohesivemenu that is easy for you while being tasty and memorable for all the diners.
Bevi July 26, 2013
There are a multitude of recipes on this site. Grilled corn is always easy. You can grill extra ears and prepare a nice corn and fruit salsa to go with whatever protein you grill as well. You can roast potatoes in advance and prepare a potato salad that you can pull out of the fridge. How about a nice cuke salad? Or prepping meat and fruit and veggie kabobs in advance and grilling them at the last minute? Attached are a few great recipe categories that you can look over: http://food52.com/recipes/search?q=grilled+corn

Have a great time, and get helpers!
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