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Bbq En Masse

Asked by Emma1988. Answered on 5th June 2011

Full question

My daughter's christening is coming up in July, we are having the party in my house/garden, there will be around 50 guests, we are having a BBQ. What would you suggest as good food to make en masse? My in-laws never cook easy buffet-type food, it's always rice dishes with stews (they are African), I need something to rival their food!

Our answer

The biggest challenge with cooking for large numbers at a BBQ is making sure that there is some food cooked and ready to go quickly when people arrive and are likely to be hungry. As well as making sure that you have enough BBQ's (grills) available (and in this case gas-fired ones are useful as they will offer steady and controllable heat over a longer period of time that a charcoal burning ones) it is useful to have a couple of items that are almost fully cooked in the oven and can be quickly finished on the BBQ. Items like spare ribs and chicken wings fit this bill nicely and Nigella has several recipes for ribs but try the Spare Ribs recipe from Forever Summer (p106), Finger-Lickin' Ribs from Feast (p150) or Maple Chicken 'n' Ribs from Nigella Express (p110). The Dragon Chicken from Kitchen (p415) can also be cooked in the oven then quickly burnished on the BBQ. With marinated food watch it carefully on the BBQ as any sugar in the marinade will burn quickly over a high heat and always make sure that poultry and pork are thoroughly cooked through before serving. Once initial appetites have been sated you could move on to a larger cut of meat which may take longer to cook on the BBQ, perhaps one of Nigella's Barbecued Loins of Lamb from Forever Summer (p118) served thinly sliced with some flatbreads.

When catering for larger numbers we always suggest choosing a smaller number of dishes and providing an abundant quantity rather than lots of dishes in smaller quantities. 3 or 4 salads should be sufficient and if it is hot and the salads are likely to sit out for a while then we would suggest being cautious about serving mayonnaise or egg-based dressings. Forever Summer again has a few that would be useful for a BBQ - The Rainbow Room's Carrot and Peanut Salad (p58), Double Courgette and Bean Salad (p61) and Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad (p67) would all be good accompaniments to BBQ meats.

One other suggestion is to consider a hog roast which would cater for larger numbers. There seem to be a wide range of companies on-line who offer everything from the basic hire of a roaster to a fully-catered service, though we are unable to recommend any specific companies.

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