|courtesy Schooner Victory Chimes
|Cooking for a crowd? No problem! Just take a look at this pirate dinner photo, taken aboard the Victory Chimes in 1947, and you'll know we have experience cooking for crews of all sizes.
Sitting down to a delicious meal with kith and kin is what makes the holidays so special. But there’s an art to cooking for a large party and, as many chefs know, what’s a great meal for 4 guests doesn’t necessarily translate well to a roomful of 20 hungry people.
Aboard Maine’s windjammers, the award winning chefs have perfected the art of cooking for a crowd and found it can be a snap, as long as you plan ahead, choose the right dishes, and cook as much as possible the day before.
Captain Mike and Lynne McHenry have owned the Camden windjammer Angelique since 1986. When it comes to meal planning, Lynne knows exactly how to feed a hungry crew!
This month, Lynne McHenry of the Angelique very generously shared her tips for planning a large meal to ensure that the holidays are as peaceful as possible – especially inside the kitchen! She writes:
- Make sure to plan it out. Until you really get the hang of cooking for a large party, write everything down step by step.
- Plan the meal so that one serving of each dish will fit on one plate. This cuts down on too many dishes.
- Remember that people eat less when there are more choices. Be judicious when you’re estimating amounts - this will also save you from having to handle an overwhelming amount of leftovers.
- Prep and cook things ahead of time if you can. Remember, rolls and pies can be made one day in advance. If you do as much as you can early, the big day will be a breeze.
- Appetizers can be simple. I like to serve carrots, cherry tomatoes, dips and peanuts.
- When guests are bringing appetizers remember to request dishes that do NOT have to be heated – your oven space is valuable real estate!
- I once believed that everything would magically stay warm until it was ready to be served. Then one Thanksgiving I served cold potatoes... Now I serve a few dishes that are delicious at room temperature.
- For any dishes that must be served warm, plan how you’ll heat (or re-heat!) them....stovetop, microwave, or oven when the main dish is outside the oven waiting to be sliced.
- Here’s a good one: avoid making mashed potatoes...they do not hold up well! Instead, cut white and sweet potatoes into wedges, toss them with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt, and roast them for about an hour in a 400 degree oven. Do this the morning of the big day. The great thing about this dish is that you can leave potatoes out and covered until just before dinner. Then just place them back in oven for a few minutes to crisp them up.
- Vegetable salads hold up better and can be made the day before...remember to add dressing before serving!
- Enjoy the day! Remember, your guests are there to see you and most people don’t notice the mistakes. So, once you’ve planned and done what you can, relax and enjoy yourself and your guests. You deserve it!
Wonder how our windjammer cooks do it? Check out our recipes – no woodstoves required!!