January 28, 2013

Feeding the Multitude

My husband will tell you that I’m always a little anxious about having people over.

I’m not afraid that the food will be terrible, or that the house will be dirty, or that the meal won’t get to the table on time.

(Though I should probably be more afraid of all of the above. In a long line of Sunday lunches, I’ve had multiple oven malfunctions, several emergency ingredient substitutions, and, just last week, our guests were long gone by the time I realized one of them had been silently straddling my husband’s size 14 tennis shoes—abandoned and forgotten under the dining room table.)

But what I fear seems worse yet. I’m afraid of running out of food.

With good reason. I’m the girl who can’t put the leftovers in the correct Tupperware because I have no sense of volume. And math has never been my strong subject. So, figuring out how much chicken 4 or 10 or 20 people will consume? Not easy.

I’ve never actually run out. But that’s usually because I have three pans of extras waiting, useless, in the oven. (And my family, bless them, has to spend the next week repeating Sunday’s lunch, meal by meal, until it’s gone.)

This year, our small church started a new Wednesday night supper routine. Each family signs up for a week to feed the whole crowd, then eats stress-free while others cook the rest of the semester. The pastor (okay, my husband) set a few ground rules: nothing fancy, no need to include all the food groups, no dessert or sides required. The emphasis is on fellowship and enabling people to come straight from work to church.

Time to confront my old fear again. On my week, I could be feeding 15. I could be feeding 40. And I have a commitment immediately before the dinner hour, so my meal has to be make-ahead.

Thankfully, over the course of the year, the other families have served some great meals, and helped ease my anxiety. We've eaten soups and chilis, spaghetti, pizza, turkey sandwiches, lasagna, and sloppy joes. And no one (including me!) has run out of food yet.

My contribution? BBQ Pork. Cheap, do-ahead, crowd-pleasing, and if I have leftovers, they can easily translate to Mexican carnitas, chili, fried rice, more BBQ. . .

Pulled Pork
Adapted from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson
ISBN 978-0-618-32972-4

Serves 15-20, can multiply by making two roasts at the same time

3 T. brown sugar
3 T. paprika
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ T. pepper, freshly ground is best
1 ½ T. garlic powder
1 bone-in pork butt roast (about 10 pounds)
½ c. Dijon mustard
1 T. liquid smoke seasoning
purchased BBQ sauce
sandwich buns

Place oven rack on lowest position. Heat oven to 250.

Mix first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place a rack over a foiled-line shallow baking sheet, place the pork on the rack and pat it dry. Combine the mustard and liquid smoke in a second bowl. Sprinkle the roast with a small amount of salt, brush with half the mustard mixture, and sprinkle with half the spice mixture. Flip roast over and repeat on the other side.

Place roast in oven and cook for 11-12 hours, until meat falls apart when poked with a fork. 

Remove from oven and let stand. Using a knife and/or two forks, remove the meat from the bone and shred into bite sized pieces.

Serve with the BBQ sauce and buns. Can be made ahead and reheated on low (a crock-pot works great.)

My turn is coming up again in a few weeks, so, please tell me, how do you feed a multitude?


  1. That seems like an ideal amount of cooking time for a Sunday dinner, too. Most slow cooking recipes take about 8 hours so that you have to get up in the wee hours of the morning to have it ready by noon.

  2. I love a variety of soups, too, such as Pizza Soup served with Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches, Chicken Noodle, and Chuckwagon Soup (a spicy beef stew) served with Rustic Breads. During warmer weather, Chicken Salad Croissants work well with a Fruit Salad, Chips and Cookies. All make-ahead except for sandwich assembly and Sam's has croissants for a decent price. Another idea would be to make Italian Beef (chuck roast & Italian seasoning) in the crock-pot and then heat the buns with cheese and serve with BBQ sauce at meal time. Serve with a side of chips, carrot sticks and maybe cookies.

    1. I have a Sams membership and can't resist a croissant. . .sounds like a plan to me! Thanks, Uptown Frog.

  3. I have a pulled pork recipe that's completely slow cooker and seems to feed a multitude! It has even less prep time than the one you shared above (which sounds amazingly yummy, by the way). My other favorite is a potato cheese and bacon soup. The challenge with soup is making sure you have a big enough pot! (but how can you go wrong with bacon?!) Lasagna is good, too. It's always better sitting a while, so making it ahead works well. Another favorite is pasta with chicken sausage, broccoli, bell pepper and seasoning. It's pretty simple and reheats pretty well.
    But my very favorite is your oatmeal craisin chocolate chip cookies. I mean, it's like breakfast in a cookie, really, so you could totally get away with it. :)

    1. Those cookies. . .(the recipe is somewhere on this blog). . .would I eat them for breakfast? Totally.

    2. You are a good woman. I almost one for breakfast this morning, except my children would have wanted me to share, and I didn't want to share. I'm having it this afternoon with tea. ;)

  4. We have a similar routine on Wednesday nights. I do three crock pots of soup (I go over to the church at lunch and set them up). I try to pick easy ones like taco (cans + meat), chicken noodle (adding the noodles about 15 minutes before time to eat) and tomato with red peppers and couscous (again, you just dump it in before church starts). I usually sent any leftover home with someone (in exchange for them cleaning the crockpot—HA!)

    1. "I usually sent any leftover home with someone (in exchange for them cleaning the crockpot--HA!)" I LOVE IT!

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