Cooking For Large Family & Gatherings 2021: Secret Cooking Sequence That Helps Keep You On Track

Having a large family growing up, I learned to cook in a big way. With 5 brothers and 3 sisters plus Mom and Dad, I started out cooking for eleven people by the time I was twelve. Mom needed help and taught her daughters to cook at an early age. I’ll never forget the first time I fried chicken all by myself. My brothers ridiculed my over-done chicken mercilessly.

I’ll never forget the first meal I cooked away from home. My sister and I moved out together, just the two of us, and, after settling in, prepared our first meal for just us. We cooked like we were taught: 5 pounds of potatoes for mashed potatoes, 2 whole chickens for fried chicken, 2 quarts of green beans. To this day, we still laugh about all that food we had left over.

So needless to say, cooking for a large gathering is no problem for me. I take on the task of hosting my husband’s family for Thanksgiving and while most people worry about having a dry turkey, my biggest dread is cleaning the house.

So what is the secret to cooking large? Like cooking any size meal, the secret is in the planning. You will need extra and larger everything. Plan your menu, inventory your serving dishes, pots and pans, plates, forks, knives, spoons, drinking glasses at least a week in advance. Buy everything you need ahead of time, right down to butter for bread and ice for drinks.

Once you have your menu and inventory planned, jot down a time schedule. Have the house cleaned and seating arrangements completed the day before so you can focus on the meal, otherwise you’ll be pulling your hair out trying to get everything done on time. The easiest thing to cook is a one-dish meal, like pot roast or lasagna with few side dishes.

? Main dish, Pot Roast w/carrots and potatoes
o cook in roaster, 3-hour oven time, serve on platter
? Side vegetable, steamed broccoli
o cook in 3 qt. steamer, 20 min stove top time, serve in blue bowl
? Bread, buy brown and serve rolls (or make from scratch ahead of time)
o oven time 15 minutes, last thing to cook, serve in basket, buy new towel
After detailing each dish, make a timetable.

Example, for a 6:00 dinner:

2:00 Start pot roast; have in oven by 2:30
4:00 Peel potatoes, slice carrots; add to pot roast by 4:30
4:30 Set tables
5:15 prepare broccoli, start to cook by 5:35
5:35 Prepare rolls for cooking, in oven by 5:45
5:45 Transfer pot roast to platter
5:55 Transfer broccoli to bowl
6:00 Bread’s done, transfer to basket and cover with towel
Sit down to delicious meal and enjoy. And for your test, I now present the world’s best pot roast recipe. It’s my own, passed to me from my Mom.

Pots you’ll need:
oven going roasting pan
10-inch skillet
1 or 2 Chuck roasts (2-3 lbs ea.)
1 large or 2 med. onions, sliced
6 carrots (or more as needed)
6 potatoes (or more as needed)
1 can onion soup +1/2 can water*
Can mushroom soup (or golden mushroom)
1/4 tsp.salt or Murray’s Seasoning Salt
1-2 cup mushrooms (optional)
*2 cans for 2 roasts, or substitute
1-2 pkg. onion soup mix, per directions.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
1. In large oven roasting pan, add onion soup and water.
2. Slice onion and add 1/2 to bottom of roaster. Set aside.
3. Heat skillet on high on top of stove. When hot, sear roast on all sides until brown on the outside.
4. Place seared roast(s) on top of onion/onion soup in roaster.
5. Sprinkle with salt.
6. Cover with remaining onion slices and can of mushroom soup, undiluted (optional)
7. Cover with alum foil, sealing tightly and put in oven.
8. Set timer to cook for 1 hour for 1 roast, 2 hours for 2 roasts.
9. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters.
10. Slice carrots.
11. When timer goes off, add potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 1 more hour.

Done when vegetables are tender. Time may have to be adjusted depending on how many vegetables there are. I have filled the pan to the brim and had to cook an additional 1/2-hour.

You can eat this roast with a fork it is so tender. You can substitute a sirloin roast, but chuck works best in my opinion. Um-mm-Ummm Good Comfort food! And so pretty on the plate. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
Warm wishes
Debbie B

PS. Use those leftovers: get some beef Stroganoff soup mix and dry egg noodles. Cook the soup, cook the noodles and combine in large skillet. Chop up left over pot roast, vegetables and all, and add to skillet along with left over juice. Heat thoroughly and enjoy!

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