Feeding a crowd

We had Healthy 30-Minute Sriracha Teriyaki Meatball Bowls for dinner last night. It was pretty easy, definitely yummy, and even better, everyone liked it. To please every person at the table with one meal does not happen terribly often around here. I've given up trying and instead just try to rotate through meals enough so that if one child is faced with a meal he or she particularly does not like, that same child has a meal that is one they do enjoy as well. If I cannot manage that, I try to avoid an individual child being faced with two disliked meals in the same week. It's quite a juggling act. Thus, a meal that everyone enjoys is a very good thing.

I did the recipe pretty much as written, except for a couple of things. First, I used regular brown basmati rice and not instant rice. (I don't get instant rice. Making rice is so easy, why do they need to make it complicated to make it 'simple'?) The other thing I did was to slice some carrots and cook them in the skillet while the meatballs cooked. I then added them along with the meatballs to the sauce before serving over the rice. I figured this way it was more of a one-dish meal and I could get away with not serving anything else. Another plus for this dish.

But about the 30-minute thing. Yeah, not so much. You see, it's not that the promise is in error, but the amount. The recipe assumes that you will use the one pound of ground turkey that is listed. If you need to triple the recipe, well, I found out a little after the fact that really one should plan on 30 minutes per pound. It just takes that much time to roll out the meatballs and then brown them. It won't stop me from making it (it was that good), but I will plan accordingly.

This has made me think of something I've noticed when looking at different recipes. (Pinterest is particularly guilty of this.) Often there will be a recipe which involves making a lot of individual items... meatballs, little sandwiches, prefilled and baked tacos, itty-bitty tartlets, etc. ... and someone will say, "This would be so great for a crowd!" I read the comment, look at the picture of the recipe, read the comment again, and think to myself that this is evidently someone who has never cooked for a crowd. Or has a staff. One of the two.

Here is my tip for the day. If you are cooking for a crowd, you know, like my family, anything that requires you to make many little individual items is not a good idea. You will be making all those little individual items for hours to get enough to feed the crowd. What does make a good item to feed a crowd? Large pans or pots full of things. Casseroles (though they are a pain to make and dirty a ridiculous amount of dishes), soup, pastas, or anything that your guests assemble themselves. Also realize that you do not have to do a straight double or triple of a recipe. I'm cheap, so I rarely triple the meat in a meal. Usually there are other ingredients as well and I will make-up the amount with those things. For instance, if I'm making a pasta recipe that has a more expensive ingredient, I will triple the pasta (I figure roughly 1 pound per four-ish people), but only double the topping. Yes, three pounds of bacon on pasta carbinara would be tasty, but who really needs that much bacon... or afford it?

And do try those meatballs.


Anonymous said…
Great tips! I often make chili for a crowd, serve it over rice with onion and grated cheese (if we have it, it's like gold) as garnish. Like you I definitely stretch the meat, but add lots of chopped tomatoes, onions, beans, etc.

When your littles want to help in the kitchen you could *try* having them roll out lots of meatballs for you. You can cook them up and then freeze them for whenever you have a dish with meatballs. Having frozen meatballs around makes a lot of meal options go much faster.

Donna...who is sadly not feeding much of a crowd these days

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