Planning a house party and thinking of catering yourself? When you’re thinking about serving 25+ people, you’ve got to tackle three major problems:
1. Handling the sheer amount of food you need
2. Actually cooking all that food, and not getting overwhelmed
3. (The biggest!) not losing flavor as the recipe grows!
Of course, having enough room to make food for 30 people can be a challenge, but managing to keep an intense flavor will make your meal truly memorable. So, how can you do it? Fortunately, Chef Mel (Melvin Mattison) here at WingInit in Anderson, South Carolina, has been a professional chef for over 30 years and knows exactly what it takes to deliver delicious food from the first serving to the fortieth. To help you make a meal to remember, we’ve got Chef Mel’s top tips as well as a delicious Sweet n’ Sour Meatballs recipe you can use for your event.
Chef Mel is passionate about Southern Progressive Cooking, having learned from his mother, Ella Mae. Even after 30 years of professional cooking, he still loves to experiment with different flavor combinations and putting his own twist on Southern favorites. Here is his top tip, plus some practical tips for cooking for large groups.
Top Tips for Cooking for Large Groups
1. Don’t Overcomplicate It
When you’re cooking for large groups, don’t try to become a restaurant – you don’t need to serve a full menu and sixteen different dishes. Keep it simple. Choose one straightforward recipe (like Chef Mel’s meatball recipe below) and serve it to everyone. If you know you have different dietary needs in your group, try to make just two meals – one for those who can eat everything, and one for everyone else.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Ready-to-Go Products
Similarly, don’t feel like you’ve got to make everything from scratch. For example, we use frozen meatballs in the recipe below. This makes it so much easier to cook for 25 people, as hand-rolling all those meatballs would take forever. Using readymade products does not mean you’ve not put in a huge amount of effort to put the meal together!
3. Prepare Your Containers Before You Start
This is especially important if you need to make your meal in batches or need to transport your meal to another venue. Make sure you prepare and have enough containers to put your cooked food in so you don’t end up panicking once it’s cooked!
4. Enjoy the Process!
It’s easy to get stressed when you’re preparing meals for so many mouths, especially if you want everyone to say how delicious it was! Chef Mel’s secret ingredient is… Love, simple as that! Food made with love always tastes the best, or as he puts it, you can “taste the love.” So enjoy the process and put it together with love – it really will taste better!
Delicious Sweet n’ Sour Meatballs Recipe for 25 People
This sweet ‘n’ sour meatball recipe is simple to prepare and packed with flavor. To get the full Chef Mel effect, you should seek out the ingredients he uses, but if you have to substitute different brands don’t worry, it will still taste good! This recipe is so simple and wins over guests every time. Here it is:
Total Cooking Time: 30 mins Prep: 5 mins Cooking: 25 mins
Feeds: 25 guests
Ingredients: (We recommend heading to Sam’s Club for all the ingredients as you’ll find the large sizes you need, but you can buy multiples at another grocery store.)
FIRST INGREDIENT ONE 5lb bag of Member’s Mark Italian Style Meatballs (or any 5lb bag of frozen meatballs, you may need to buy multiple small bags if shopping locally or at Walmart)
SECOND INGREDIENT ONE large can (114oz) of Ketchup (Mel’s favorite tomato ketchup is Hunt’s which is 100% natural)
THIRD INGREDIENT ONE 2-package container (64oz) of Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly
These ingredients will help you achieve the perfect recipe. These meatballs are made of real beef, herbs and seasonings, all you have to do is heat them through in Chef Mel’s delicious sauce, which is also super simple to make. Method
The meatballs can stay in your freezer while you start the sauce. Simply combine the ketchup and jelly and warm on a low-medium heat until the jelly has dissolved and the sauce is smooth. That should take around 4-7 minutes. If you have the heat too high, you risk burning it!
Add the frozen meatballs. They will naturally cool the sauce, so you will need to raise the heat to compensate.
When the pot begins to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, by which time the meatballs should be soft and tender and heated all the way through.
And that’s it! That’s really all you need! Just three ingredients and a half hour will see your house party guests happy and fed! This is the ultimate party food. The recipe is for 25 guests, but it is easy to upsize if you are catering for more. Don’t forget you need a LARGE pot or will need to divide the recipe for multiple batches. How could it be easier? Of course, there is one other ingredient. Chef Mel’s special one. Love.
Visit Chef Mel @ Wingin It (2409 East River Street. Anderson, SC 29621)
864.556.1449 for One on One or Group Catering Session!