Thanksgiving homeless shelter dinner suggestions needed.

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J a y H a c k
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Thanksgiving homeless shelter dinner suggestions needed.

#1 Post by J a y H a c k » September 15th, 2015, 10:36 am

We are once again cooking dinner for the family homeless shelter in White Plains. Let's say 100 people. I know that if I make fancy food that I would expect to be served at the French Laundry, it will be ignored in favor of more traditional comfort type foods. We serve a sit down dinner, no steam tables, no waiting on line, two servers at each table of ten. Based upon what was successful last year, we will definitely have:

Pigs and blankets and deviled eggs as appetizers
Honey brined turkey
Meat loaf
Double baked potatoes with melted cheese
Roasted Vegetables
Glazed carrots
stuffing, but even that was not well received last year.

Any other suggestions? I'm looking for interesting items that qualify as American food favorites.

Note - no pork or shellfish and no milk and meat mixed. It's at my synagogue and I can't convince the powers that be to serve to the guests. Also, in the past there have been a lot of Muslims who are happy there is no pork.

Yeah, I know it's early, but it is a big production.
Last edited by J a y H a c k on September 15th, 2015, 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Corey N.
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#2 Post by Corey N. » September 15th, 2015, 10:43 am

Well, you've already got the baked potatoes w/cheese so this is doubling up, but as far as comfort foods go, mac and cheese is the bomb diggity. If you go this route, I'd probably go with mashed potatoes instead of double baked.
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Brad B a l l i n g e r
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#3 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » September 15th, 2015, 10:47 am

Great that you are doing this, by the way.

I don't see bread (e.g., in the form of dinner rolls) on your menu. Do you serve gravy with the turkey and meat loaf? Is there dessert?
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#4 Post by D@v1dZ » September 15th, 2015, 10:55 am

Mac and cheese as a side is guaranteed to be a hit, especially with kids.

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#5 Post by Corey N. » September 15th, 2015, 11:02 am

I just looked up "mensch" in the dictionary and saw this:

[resizeableimage=800,600]http://www.finewinegeek.com/tn/2014-06- ... 1_0806.jpg[/resizeableimage]
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#6 Post by CJ Beazley » September 15th, 2015, 11:32 am

Id say mashed potatoes, but you never know. I worked a breakfast line recently and I brought 3 dozen glazed doughnuts, an older guy who serves every week brought 5 loaves of cheap plain white bread. He told me "that ain't gonna eat them doughnuts" my reply was "you think they're going to pass up doughnuts for that crappy bread you're nuts". When I left there were still two full dozen, his bread was long gone.
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#7 Post by cjsavino » September 15th, 2015, 11:41 am

My sister in-law always makes a great sweet potato casserole, essentially mashed sweet potatoes with butter and then a brown sugar/pecan topping. Can be scaled up and made in advance for re-heating.

3c. Mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1 stick butter (ok to use less)
2 eggs
1/4 c. Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash cinnamon

Mix above together and place on casserole.

Topping:
1 stick butter
1/4 c. Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1cup brown sugar
Chopped nuts

Mix above together and place on top. 350 degrees, 30 min.
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#8 Post by David K o l i n » September 15th, 2015, 12:10 pm

My grandfather was from Boston, which probably explains why baked beans are on our thanksgiving table. Fairly easy to prepare with precooked navy or great northern beans, brown sugar, ketchup and pastrami (you can get fancy with a little mustard or vinegar to help cut the sweetness). The downside is that is takes a while (6-8 hours) to cook

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#9 Post by J a y H a c k » September 15th, 2015, 5:40 pm

Oh yeah. I forgot to list Mac and cheese. That was the big favorite last year and we will do it again.
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#10 Post by J a y H a c k » September 15th, 2015, 5:42 pm

David: Real baked beans not out of a can and slow smoked in the BGE is a good idea. I made those once right after I got the BGE and they were great.
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#11 Post by J a y H a c k » September 15th, 2015, 5:44 pm

Gravy - give me a good recipe. I am not from a gravy family, so I have no gravy skills. Make roux, add drippings and stock, what else?
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#12 Post by Peter Kleban » September 15th, 2015, 6:46 pm

How about squash (baked and mashed) with (tiny) marshmallows? That's traditional for a lot of folks. I never made it, but there is probably some spice (nutmeg?) that would make it more interesting.

Great that you are doing this, BTW. A credit to your generosity. You're a mensch even without the helmet!
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#13 Post by Randy Bowman » September 15th, 2015, 7:59 pm

If you have room on the appetizers or dinner, pizza slices are always a hit. If pizza on Thanksgiving scares you, try this:

Browned ground beef with Italian seasoning and drained
Spread about a tbsp of Cheese Wiz on English muffin halves
Top with ground beef mixture
Cover with pizza sauce and top with shredded mozzarella
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes

You can make up enough for 20 sheet pans and freeze them until time to bake them.

They also make great snacks/appetizers/late quick dinners for the home, just add a little garlic and oregano while making them to your palate. Keep them in the freezer til you need them.

I will admit, it was easier for the homeless to eat thin crust pizza than the English Muffin pizzas. A key consideration many miss is there is a large number of homeless who cannot eat food requiring sharp teeth or extensive chewing. I had an individual ask how dry the turkey was so he could judge whether to have any or stick with mashed potatoes, yams and soft vegetables.
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#14 Post by Mike Evans » September 15th, 2015, 8:42 pm

The key to gravy is a good, rich turkey stock. It's also the key to my Challah-cornbread stuffing, and the combination of the two are really all I ever need for Thanksgiving. If you are interested, I can pull my recipes.

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#15 Post by P. Willenberg » September 16th, 2015, 6:32 am

J a y H a c k wrote:Gravy - give me a good recipe. I am not from a gravy family, so I have no gravy skills. Make roux, add drippings and stock, what else?
Right. I'd do it in a big pot and be careful your stock doesn't have too much salt if your drippings do too.

I typically buy an extra cheap turkey the week before and boil it down for stock to use in the dressing, green bean casserole, gravy etc.

If I were making gravy for 100, I'd thicken with Xanthan gum and not a roux. either way and immersion blender is going to be your friend so you don't have to whisk lumps out of 2 gallons of liquid.
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#16 Post by P. Willenberg » September 16th, 2015, 6:34 am

Green bean casserole is a staple in my house

you might also consider some grapes and olives as appetizers. nothing fancy, just red table grapes and canned black olives.
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#17 Post by Brian Tuite » September 16th, 2015, 6:49 am

They don't eat the stuffing because people make boring stuffing.

We can never make enough of this at Thanksgiving.
Recipe is for 12 servings.

INGREDIENTS
0.75 lb. sourdough bread
12 oz. Italian sausage
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium onions
2 Granny Smith Apples
1 c. Dried Cranberries
1 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley
0.25 c. fresh sage
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
0.50 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 can turkey or chicken broth

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a shallow 3- to 3 1⁄2-qt baking dish.
Divide the bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake, tossing once, until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (I just drain in a small collander), transfer to the bowl of bread.
Wipe out the skillet and melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and apples are crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes more; stir in the cranberries, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl of bread. Gradually add the broth to the bowl, tossing, to moisten.
Spoon the bread mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Refrigerate the stuffing for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, at 375ºF until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Gravy? I make mine in the roasting pan and use most of the drippings and all of the browned bits in the bottom. Instead of making a roux I heat milk in the pan, whisk in flour and season to taste. Small biys of Turkey make it savory and interesting. It's rich but it's Thanksgiving, nothing worse than boring bland Thanksgiving food
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#18 Post by P. Willenberg » September 16th, 2015, 7:26 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
Gravy? I make mine in the roasting pan and use most of the drippings and all of the browned bits in the bottom. Instead of making a roux I heat milk in the pan, whisk in flour and season to taste. Small biys of Turkey make it savory and interesting. It's rich but it's Thanksgiving, nothing worse than boring bland Thanksgiving food
if you figure 100ml per person, 100x, that's 10L of gravy and might not be able to be made in a roasting pan.
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#19 Post by Brian Tuite » September 16th, 2015, 7:29 am

P. Willenberg wrote:
Brian Tuite wrote:
Gravy? I make mine in the roasting pan and use most of the drippings and all of the browned bits in the bottom. Instead of making a roux I heat milk in the pan, whisk in flour and season to taste. Small biys of Turkey make it savory and interesting. It's rich but it's Thanksgiving, nothing worse than boring bland Thanksgiving food
if you figure 100ml per person, 100x, that's 10L of gravy and might not be able to be made in a roasting pan.
1 turkey per 12 people means 8 roasting pans. Non?
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#20 Post by Brian Tuite » September 16th, 2015, 7:36 am

Randy Bowman wrote:
Browned ground beef with Italian seasoning and drained
Spread about a tbsp of Cheese Wiz on English muffin halves
Top with ground beef mixture
Cover with pizza sauce and top with shredded mozzarella
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes

You can make up enough for 20 sheet pans and freeze them until time to bake them.

Cheese Whiz English Muffin Hamburger Pizza [scratch.gif]
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#21 Post by P. Willenberg » September 16th, 2015, 7:53 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
1 turkey per 12 people means 8 roasting pans. Non?
Glad I'm not whisking 8 pans :)
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#22 Post by Brian Tuite » September 16th, 2015, 8:10 am

P. Willenberg wrote:
Brian Tuite wrote:
1 turkey per 12 people means 8 roasting pans. Non?
Glad I'm not whisking 8 pans :)
[wink.gif]
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#23 Post by Mike Davila » September 16th, 2015, 3:58 pm

Did not see any Dessert.
The wife makes a killer pecan pie, and what she calls a tort (less filling so a higher nuts to crust ratio) can provide a recipe if desired.
Another easy dessert for a big crowd is bread pudding, have a good recipe with a bourbon sauce, but that may not be appropriate in your setting, could probably make it without and use vanilla bean.
Hats off to you for caring.

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#24 Post by Michael Sopher » September 17th, 2015, 9:02 am

Green Bean Casserole... but an updated one (no cream of mushroom soup, no French's Onion Rings from a can)

I did this for Rosh Hashana but carmelized regular onions instead of cippolini. You could also go to frozen green beans instead of fresh (cleaning/cutting green beans for 20 was a lot of work... for 100 would be... well 5x as much work)
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013 ... ecipe.html

As to gravy... do it in advance with good store bought stock... you can add pan scrapings day of... but you don't want to be struggling with that on that day

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