Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Batch Cooking- Part 2

Well after our first adventure in batch cooking, we had several more people want to join in. For this round we prepared about half of the meals beforehand and then gathered to make the rest. Since this only our second time at this we made a few mistakes, but we are learning for next time. The big grocery trip is really a huge undertaking and more than one person should go. Also because there is so much food purchased, everyone needs to throw in a beginning amount of money for the shopping trip. The rest was settled up on cooking day.

Our menu included :

breakfast cookies - a dozen

pancakes - double batch of about 20

ham and cheese croissanwiches - 8 sandwiches

Crunchy Ranch Chicken tenders- 2 lbs

Pepper steak - gallon bag

Sicilian Meat Roll - 2 pounds

Chicken and Spinach stuffed shells - 9*13 pan

Enchilada casserole - 9*13 pan

Chicken Spaghetti - 9*13 pan

Chicken Tetrazinni - 9*13 pan

The total bill was $653, so for 65 dollars each we got ten different item. The breakfast cookies and pancakes covered a couple of meals for all of us and the other meals were split into 2 smaller pans by some of our participants with smaller families. It was easily 13-15 meals for most of us. That is $4-$5 per meal!!!

The breakfast cookies obviously had to be made ahead for the sake of the oven usage. The pancakes were also made ahead on a large griddle, but could have been made that day.

The Ham and cheese croissanwiches were an easy day of assemble. They consisted of thinly sliced ham and swiss cheese on a croissant with a poppy seed mayo dressing. These were a big hit with my family.

The Crunchy Ranch Chicken Tenders were assembled at the batch cooking day. It really helped that our host has double ovens. In the future, this might need to be made ahead of time when we have so many participants, but the assembly is really easy. The chicken was dipped in buttermilk and ranch seasonings then rolled in crushed ranch chips. The chicken was then baked for 18 minutes. When it is time to eat this dish, just heat it in the oven or microwave until hot.

The Pepper Steak was also assembled on the batch cooking day. All the ingredients were put in a gallon freezer bag, so it was a really easy assembly. When it came time to cook, the contents are just put in the crock pot for several hours - super easy.

My personal favorite from this batch session has been the Sicilian Meat Roll. It was super easy to assemble on location and tasted wonderful. Plus, it was South Beach friendly - always a bonus. This recipe is basically seasoned lean ground beef rolled around ham and cheese. The roll is then frozen uncooked. When you are ready to eat, you just thaw and bake. REALLY GOOD batch style recipe.

The last four dishes were basic casseroles. We opted for the lighter version of the ingredients called for to try to make them healthier. A couple of the dishes required that the sauces be reduced on the stove. This took a really long time to bring such a huge pot of sauce up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Next time- these will be make ahead dishes. Also, the pans were so large that the took a very long time to thaw. We decided that for the next batch session the participants have the option of dividing the meal into 2 smaller pans versus the one large pans.

So lessons learned :

Get $$ from each participant for the big shopping trip
Take 2 people shopping
Meals that require baking or simmering need to cooked beforehand
Casseroles need a 2 day fridge thaw or to be divided into smaller pans

Oh and most important - have wine and snacks for cooking day. It makes it all go smoother.

No comments: