Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to cook for a wedding...

12# of COLD ground beef!
...without wanting to hang yourself in the garage when it is over! I showed you yesterday what the menu was for the wedding as well as the rehearsal dinner, see HERE. The first thing we did was decide just how much food we needed for all the guests. It was a lovely and small wedding with about 100 guests, including small children. You can count on portions similar to these amounts:

  • For every adult plan on 4 oz of meat and for children 8 and under 2 oz of meat if there are at least three other sides if you are serving alcohol and two other sides if not serving alcohol (people who are drinking tend to eat more). We needed 24 pounds of ground beef for our main dish along with a half gallon of cream for the recipe on pg 20 of Healthy 4 Life (skipping the tomato paste, we went for a more Swedish meatball thing).
  • For every 6-8 adults plan on one pound of salad greens when used as a side and not as a main and one cup of dressing if the salad will be served dressed and one and a half cups if guests will dress the salad (there will be spills and people tend to serve more when they dress it themselves). Yes, we made 25 pounds of salad.
  • In most cases you can count on 2 oz per person of fresh fruit (serve 25% of that dipped in chocolate for good effect) but if there are a lot of children, plan on 3-4 oz, which is what we did. This meant we used 25 pounds of fruit and that we chocolate dipped 5 pounds of fruit (using two bags of soy-free chips and four tablespoons of butter). As a dip for the fruit, we used a half gallon of Greek yogurt with honey drizzled over it and we separated it in to four bowls of one pint each for each platter of about 6 pounds of fruit.
  • We had cheese and planned really on it being for the adults, children usually go for sweet things like fruit (especially the chocolate dipped) so we had ten pounds of cheese. Brie is my favorite and I thought it would go faster but it was the organic white cheddar that did (Costco was, gasp, out of Dubliner when we went shopping!) and we had some regular orange cheddar as well.
  • Deviled eggs. Ten dozen eggs made into deviled eggs and that meant two hours, (not one but count them TWO) hours of peeling eggs. The groom mother sat and did it for hours and she is a saint. Now, deviled eggs we find are not that popular a dish. We used Grey Poupon and homemade mayo. It was simple and refined and delish. After all the peeling and some eggs which did make the cut (pulled apart as we peeled, we were left with about 100 eggs and so 200 egg halves which means at least two for anyone who wanted one.
  • 6 gallons of lemonade made with 6 C organic lemon juice and 6 C organic cane sugar and the remainder water with two ice rings made with sliced lemons and fresh rosemary springs. Beautiful! It was the mother of the groom who made the rings, she is an artist and it is at moments like this that it shows!
  • We also bought sourdough (I was too busy to make this, too) and we split six two pound loaves and filled with 36 ounces of chopped spinach, two of the giant glass jars of artichoke hearts from Costco, three pounds of cream cheese, and two pounds of parma grated in the food processor. We sliced them almost through and wrapped them before we then baked them in the oven at 350 until hot and gooey. This we underestimated. We should have done at least nine if not ten loaves like this. Word to this wise, try this recipe!
Here is the schedule we followed:

The first half of the meatballs.

Superbowl Sunday we made 600 meatballs (well, about 588) using a scoop and baked them in the oven. They were cooled and frozen and set aside for the wedding day. We mixed the meat 12 pounds at a time with our hands and yes, it was awful. Bone chilling cold. We took turns. And drank red wine. That helped.

We bought the eggs two weeks in advance and let them sit in my garage fridge to age which helped in the peeling stage. To hard boil ten dozen eggs, I turned to my oven. Place the eggs on the rack in a cold oven with a sheet pan underneath, just in case. Set the oven to 350 and walk away for 30 minutes. That's it.

48 hours before the wedding the sister of the groom and his mother came to my house for a massive cook-off. We set the kids up with cheese and crispy almonds and a movie and got to work.
  • Assembled the bread
  • Peeled the eggs, prepared the filling for the eggs
  • Roasted all the salsa ingredients and the red peppers, ran them through food processor
  • Made mayo, prepared the filling for the eggs
  • Made gravy for the meatballs and put it in glass jars
  • Soaked the rice and beans for the rehearsal dinner the following night
  • Thawed the meatballs
  • Measured and set aside lemonade ingredients
  • Diced cheeses, but not the brie!

On the day of the wedding (it was at one in the afternoon):
  • We dipped the fruit in the chocolate, plated all fruit
  • Assembled yogurt dip and placed it on the buffet
  • Heated the meatballs and sauce in hotel pans in the oven, moved them to chaffing dish
  • Warmed the bread in the oven and set it on a warming plate on the buffet
  • Plated cheeses with fruit
  • Garnished eggs with smoked paprika and plated
  • Drank mimosas made with pinapple juice and Spanish cava with a strawberry in it (just settle the nerves)

I did bring some roasted pork with green chiles for people to snack on while we prepped everything. I set it to roast all day on Thursday (when we cooked for the wedding) so I would have dinner ready to go after a long day of working and then brought the remainder of the 18# shoulder to feed people on the morning of the wedding, planned left-overs. It was fantastic!

That is how we did it! I'll ask the bride (her blog is HERE) if I can show some pix of the wedding. I try to be respectful of whether or not other people want to have strangers looking at pictures of them. She was gorgeous, let me tell you, never more beautiful in her life.

Linking up to Fat Tuesday!


  1. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  2. I found your blog a couple of months ago, and I've really been enjoying your posts. I had no idea you could hard boil eggs in the oven- great tip.

    You guys obviously put a lot of planning into the wedding. The food sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. A friend whose family has done catering told me about it and I leapt on the idea. It worked great!


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