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Author Topic: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People  (Read 6239 times)

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Offline Don K

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Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« on: April 13, 2013, 11:44:47 PM »
My wife and I got talked into "volunteering" to cook for a spaghetti dinner tomorrow at our church to benefit our youth group. We cooked about 5-gallons of sauce this evening (my wife's recipe). I bought 30-pounds of spaghetti at GFS.

We will be cooking the spaghetti tomorrow afternoon. Our church's kitchen has a commercial stove with all of the stock pots and utensils that we will need.

Does anybody have any experience cooking such a large amount of pasta at once?

We were thinking that maybe we would cook batches until they are almost done and putting them in big Ziplock bags in the refrigerator. Then we can just dump them in some boiling water for a few minutes as we need it. Does this sound like a good strategy?

Any other tips?
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Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2013, 11:53:54 PM »
Cook Al Dente in batches, fridge or freeze till needed. Before serving flash cook in boiling water for less then one minute. Strain and serve.

Offline jeff v

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 12:04:51 AM »
I don't think cooking then freezing is a good idea.

How are you going to serve and hold the pasta?

Offline Don K

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 12:12:03 AM »
I don't think cooking then freezing is a good idea.

We definitely won't be freezing. We will start cooking a few hours before.

How are you going to serve and hold the pasta?

We have a steam table with stainless steel trays. We were planning to put the pasta on the plates and then ladle the sauce on at the serving line (buffet style).

Should we oil the pasta to keep it from sticking together?

We are open to any suggestions.
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Offline jeff v

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 12:16:16 AM »
I should add that what you are thinking will work. If that's the way you are going to go I would cook 85-90% of the way, store, hold and finish it he sauce if possible. If you have Nesco roasters they work good because you can hold a relatively low temp easily.

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Offline jeff v

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 12:18:46 AM »
Oops I didn't see your reply.

You can cook 90% and hold then refresh and finish cooking just before service. I don't like just ladling sauce on top, but I know lots of places do that.

Offline Don K

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 12:25:30 AM »
I don't like just ladling sauce on top, but I know lots of places do that.

Just curious, why don't you like ladling the sauce on top?
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Offline jeff v

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 12:35:49 AM »
Just curious, why don't you like ladling the sauce on top?

When you finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for a minute or two it tastes much better.  Learning that made a huge difference in my cooking. The other two most important things when cooking and serving pasta-
Don't over cook it.
Don't over sauce it.

Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 12:38:30 AM »
I don't think cooking then freezing is a good idea.

How are you going to serve and hold the pasta?

You can vacuum seal and freeze Al Dente noodles without any effect on quality. To be honest, fresh pasta par cooked and frozen is better then dried pasta any day of the week.

Offline Don K

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 12:46:15 AM »
To be honest, fresh pasta par cooked and frozen is better then dried pasta any day of the week.

I don't doubt this for a minute. My wife often makes her own pasta and freezes it. For 150 people, I think we'll stick with the dried stuff.



Thanks for your responses Jeff and FeCheF.
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Offline jeff v

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 12:47:25 AM »
You can vacuum seal and freeze Al Dente noodles without any effect on quality. To be honest, fresh pasta par cooked and frozen is better then dried pasta any day of the week.

There are few things I know, but one of them is pasta. Freezing fresh pasta before cooking is great. Freezing cooked pasta, thawing then finishing cooking is not.

Fresh pasta is not better or worse than a well made dry pasta, just different. Also, fresh pasta can never be truly al dente but that's a whole new can of worms.

Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2013, 12:55:47 AM »
I don't doubt this for a minute. My wife often makes her own pasta and freezes it. For 150 people, I think we'll stick with the dried stuff.



Thanks for your responses Jeff and FeCheF.
Thanks Don. Im not trying to steer you in the wrong direction. A lot of times I will cook a pasta 1 or two minutes below the minimum minutes and quick chill and reserve till serving time, where i still have a pot of water simmering to quickly dip in the water for a minute or less. I then toss it in a pan with simmering fresh tomatoes, herbs and olive oil.

Offline Don K

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2013, 01:09:47 AM »
When you finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for a minute or two it tastes much better.  Learning that made a huge difference in my cooking. The other two most important things when cooking and serving pasta-
Don't over cook it.
Don't over sauce it.

My wife likes spaghetti with barely any sauce. I like a little more. When we make spaghetti at home, we usually sauce all of it the way that my wife likes it, and then I ladle some extra on mine. I like to have some sauce left on my plate when I'm finished with the pasta to mop up with a piece of fresh Italian bread.
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Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2013, 01:23:29 AM »
My favorite pasta dish is fresh roma tomatoes sliced in half and seeds removed then roughly chopped and tossed with fresh pasta and homemade pesto served with italian sausage links and garlic toast on the side.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 08:35:14 AM »
My wife and I got talked into "volunteering" to cook for a spaghetti dinner tomorrow at our church to benefit our youth group. We cooked about 5-gallons of sauce this evening (my wife's recipe). I bought 30-pounds of spaghetti at GFS.

We will be cooking the spaghetti tomorrow afternoon. Our church's kitchen has a commercial stove with all of the stock pots and utensils that we will need.

Does anybody have any experience cooking such a large amount of pasta at once?

We were thinking that maybe we would cook batches until they are almost done and putting them in big Ziplock bags in the refrigerator. Then we can just dump them in some boiling water for a few minutes as we need it. Does this sound like a good strategy?

Any other tips?

How funny. We have the same thing Monday night for our boy scout troop. We're expecting about 600 guests. we'll have 5 Cajun burners set up with big pots of water and just rotate through them coking dry pasta.
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Offline Johnny the Gent

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2013, 09:33:17 AM »
My favorite pasta dish is fresh roma tomatoes sliced in half and seeds removed then roughly chopped and tossed with fresh pasta and homemade pesto served with italian sausage links and garlic toast on the side.

That sounds good - bright and fresh flavors with the pasta, then the savory sausage on the side...I may try the same, except throw in some rough chopped basil instead of pesto (never been a huge fan).
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Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2013, 11:36:03 AM »
That sounds good - bright and fresh flavors with the pasta, then the savory sausage on the side...I may try the same, except throw in some rough chopped basil instead of pesto (never been a huge fan).


My homemade pesto is just oilve oil, fresh basil, and fresh grated pecorino.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2013, 12:42:45 PM »

My homemade pesto is just oilve oil, fresh basil, and fresh grated pecorino.

No pine nuts, walnuts, or some sort of nut?
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Offline FeCheF

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2013, 12:50:04 PM »
No pine nuts, walnuts, or some sort of nut?

I use to add pine nuts, but one day I didnt have any and made it without and realized i liked it better without. I dont know if "technically" it cant be called "pesto" if it doesnt have nuts, but i dont care.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Spaghetti Dinner for About 150 People
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2013, 01:00:04 PM »
I use to add pine nuts, but one day I didnt have any and made it without and realized i liked it better without. I dont know if "technically" it cant be called "pesto" if it doesnt have nuts, but i dont care.

I make it like you without nuts (+garlic) and freeze it. I find that without nuts, it will keep for years in the freezer. You can always add nuts later. I'd guess I add nuts less than half the time.
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