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Your Kid’s Favorite Meal Meets 150 Guests, Or: The Grad Party

cayjohan | Jan 12, 201102:12 PM

The last fledgling is preparing to leave the nest this June and will likely be studying thousands of miles from home. Thus, we are having lots of “last” favorite meals prior to dorm food. One favorite meal the child never tires of is Filipino adobo and “coconut noodles,” and has now requested (begged) that this be the fare at her graduation party. I’m a little bit of a sucker for my kids and a little bit of a glutton for punishment, so I’m inclined to make this happen. I’m just not certain *how* exactly, and would need a little advice from some cooks experienced with large-scale cooking and managing the flow. My elder fledgling wanted a Chicago Dog bar, bless his heart - that was much easier.

Here’s my thinking so far (yep, I realize it’s only January, but my calendar between *now* and *then* is brutal, and I need to start nailing a few things down, at least for my own peace of mind):

Main menu:

- a straightforward adobo recipe that I’m very confident in; just a matter of greater volume. I generally make just pork (using the country-style ribs), but will probably opt for chicken and pork to stretch the dollar a bit.

- a noodle dish I hacked together a long time ago that has become a favorite of the honoree: I steep kaffir lime leaves, ginger, garlic, lemongrass in coconut milk and chicken stock, then strain the aromatics and cook rice stick noodles in the coconut milk/stock liquid, adding some of a Cilantro Rice paste mixture from a CH post years ago, which I always keep frozen in cubes. (Wonderful recipe!!! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/328780).

- likely a shredded salad of iceberg, cucumbers, carrots and herbs.

- dessert TBD

My thinking, questions and worries:

Use 32 quart pot on outdoor propane burner to make the adobo. This should be relatively *easy* - it’ll just mean getting up really early. And not fearing the unholy volume of ingredients. So, you cookers-of-large-volumes: am I ridiculous in thinking a 32 qt pot can hold enough for around 150? I have no clue. Advise? I’m more concerned about having too little, versus too much, as I know my daughter’s friends will happily clean up the leftovers.

Keep 16 quart stock pot full of infused coconut/stock mixture on range and make noodles as needed. This is a slight poser for me, as I’ll be needed in places other than the kitchen. Alternative: make up pans of cooked noodles and place in large foil pans to keep warm in oven. Problem with alternative: those noodles get sticky rather quickly. Alternative to alternative: I make the coconut milk dish with brown rice as well (less sticky) - would that hold up better in the oven-warming scenario? Yet another alternative: I can borrow an electric roaster - would this be a good strategy for holding the noodles or rice? And how much starch - rice or noodles- should I consider as a likely portion per attendee?

Equipment available: 32 qt pot with propane burner, 16 qt stockpot, foil pans as needed, borrowed electric roaster, standard-sized oven, four-burner stove-top, borrowed cooler brigade for the pre-prepped salad. Refrigerator space is at an extreme premium.

One cook (me), along with the jack-of-all-trades and general-doer-of-bidding, the Hub. Party will likely be a three hour open house - family, friends and lots of teens.

Still wondering about a make-ahead dessert that would go well with this. Darling Daughter is undecided and wants me to make suggestions. I’m at a loss, as I’m not a big dessert eater...but I think one is in order for a grad party. I’m toying with my and DD’s favorite olive oil/orange zest cake...but don’t know yet how to do that for such a large group. The benefit there is: it (the olive oil cake) gets better with a couple days age on it. Any wild suggestions for possible alternatives?

I do enough large-ish spreads that I’m not that intimidated by a lot of work, but I’m having trouble ciphering out the logistics of this particular combination for the best outcome. And no, the basic menu won’t change (DD and I pinky-swore, so it’s binding).

Am I even asking the right questions? I’m hoping someone with some better chops that I can weigh in and tell me if I’m at least in the ball-park with my thinking.

Cuz, y’know, I still have to renovate the back garden and patio for all this. Then it’s on to a grad party for the elder who is graduating from college...

Thank you so to anyone who’s taken the time to consider these ramblings and might have some thoughts that I’m missing! I appreciate it!

Almost-Empty-Nesting-Cay

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