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Chicken Question

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello to all in this forum, this looks like a great resource and I look forward to contributing.

Firstly a little background. I am pretty new to catering. I worked for years in restaurants growing up and I have always been interested in cooking. Whenever there is family parties I am the one to come up with and carry out the menu and I have done some smaller gigs such as bridal showers, birthdays and whatnot for free. Usually not more than in the 40 - 50 people range. I've also worked with another local caterer helping out with prep and even running a few smaller gigs for her when she's been multi booked.

This weekend I am doing my first paid gig which was originally supposed to be for 35 - 40 people. I have gone with a menu that I am comfortable with, however, at the request of the people I am going heavily with grilled meats. Specifically chicken thighs, sausages and steak.

Now, I'm not too worried about it since most of the recipes are part of my usual repetoire, but my question is do you think it would be possible to pre-grill the marinated chicken thighs either the day before or the morning of the event to get grill marks and flavour and then finish them off in the oven the day of?

The sausages and steaks, as well as a grilled shrimp app will all go pretty quickly, i'm just a little concerned at the cook time of the chicken.

The numbers for the party have also nearly doubled from what iit originally was supposed to be so grill space will be at a premium.

Look forward to hearing responses.

Dave
post #2 of 11
Not only would I do the chickens, I would also do the sausage. In catering since you are dealing with larger numbers of guest all at once, it is to your advantage to do a lot things ahead. Have the shrimp on skewers so you dont have to turn each one, you turn whole skewer. Steak same day. Everything else can be held in an oven after grilling. Good Luck:D
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post #3 of 11
That method works, If your sole goal is to not make people sick -but you will end up with dry chicken. Your chicken will spend about 10 minutes on the grill for the pre-grill, the out side will be cooked perfectly and the center will have begun to rise in temp. Then, you refrigerate it over night. When you oven roast it the next day, you are starting over with 37 degree chicken, you will have to roast it as if you were starting from scratch to get the center done -thus, over-cooking and drying out everything but the center.

Unless, you "roast" at a very low temp, like 175 degrees, or you add some liquid to hydrate and control the temperature of your chicken during oven finishing.

Personally, I would do it the day of the event. Just start a little earlier, pre-grill your chicken first. Let it rest at room temp for 15-20 minutes, then finish it in the oven as you put your steaks on. Because the chicken will not be refer-cold in the center anymore, you can spend less time in the oven to finish it, juicy juicy!

-gently poach the sausages in some white wine and stock beforehand to 155 degrees, then you merely have to grill mark and reheat for service.
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
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nel maiale, tutto e buono!
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post #4 of 11
It's your first catering gig -- don't cut quality too much by trying to get too far ahead.

You're just a little off on those thighs. Yes cook them first.

Here are a couple of ways:

If you have a smoker, you can smoke them until they're barely cooked (140F, intenarl) hold (as long as overnight) and grill a minute on a hot fire. You don't cook the chicken long, just enough to crisp the skin. It's actually a farily common method for dealing with the otherwise rubbery skin most people get from smoked chicken. This also works with kettle type cookers. And, it's somewhat similar to your thought only in reverse -- roast first, grill later.

Some people hold the smoked chicken in a vinegary dip that not only adds taste to the final product but helps break the skin down. If you're a smoker, this is highly recommended.

Another strategy, more grill oriented, is to finish (most of) the chicken and hold it warm, start the first round of steaks and other quick cooking items on, and yell "ready." Truth is, chicken is MUCH better warm than hot off the grill. And, you can always put it back on the grill for a minute or two if any guests prefers it that way.

Some grillers like to finish the chicken, hold it, and mop it with sauce, and give it a brief scorch on the grill at service.

BTW, the purpose of holding back some of the chicken is so that guests can see fresh chicken on the grill -- their eyes will make the chicken in the chaffer down the service line taste fresher.

Buonaboy brought up some safety concerns with your proposal. He was a lot more diplomatic than I would have been. Or will be:

Are you nucking futz? You can't partially cook chicken and hold it overnight. The issue isn't dried out chicken, it's food poisoning. What you're suggesting in essence, is creating a bacteria incubator and just letting it rip for however many hours it's going to take to get back in the safety zone, "outside the forties." Unless it's part of some complicated, multi-stage and continuous technique, if you're pre-cooking poultry you must precook it completely.

There's a simple, inexpensive, safe, and covenient way to hold cooked meats at service temeprature for long periods of time -- and preserve freshness. When the meat comes off the grill, out of the smoker, out of the oven, etc., wrap it tightly in foil or (commercial) cling wrap, and hold it in a tightly closed, insulated cooler. You can hold at service temperature for several hours this way -- without any dimunition to quality. In fact, the quality of most meats actually improves.

With thighs this means putting batches in pans, and loading the pans in the coolers. No big deal. As I wrote earlier, you can pass them over a hot grill just before service to refresh the skin.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
That is great advice, thank you. I wasn't convinced on the par cooking chicken either, thats why I asked.

I hadn't considered the refrigerated chicken in the oven being the same as putting in raw chicken, makes sense and I'm glad you raised that point.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am thinking this is the way I am going to have to go. I have a nice large old fashioned coleman insulated metal cooler that would probably be perfect for this task.
post #7 of 11
I did not say cook it 1/2 or part way I said cook all the way. In catering you cook no meat or poultry 1/2 way then refrig its cooked all the way and frig. Its either cooked or not cooked that is a cardinal rule' As far as drying out to reheat, cover it and add a drop of water or stock. Sausage same thing. If you leave everything till last minute, you will kill yourself .And at last minute other problems always spring up and these will be one or 2 less youl have to deal with.. Also your grill may not be large enough or have recoup power to do all the items. :rolleyes:.:rolleyes:
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your advice guys. What I ended up doing was grilling the chicken on both sides to get nice grill marks and flavour, and then straight onto a half sheet pan with cooling rack and roasted at 250F for an hour. Then tightly wrapped in foil in the serving dish for about an hour till service.

The chicken came out moist, fully cooked and delicious.

Only thing I'll do differently next time I think is use skinless thighs.

BTW. The marinade I used was zest and juice of 12 lemons, olive oil, pepper, 1 bunch each of thyme and parsley coarsley chopped.

Was really tasty.
post #9 of 11
You will loose effect of grill marks , also skin helps keep it moist as under the skin there is thin layer of fat. Glad it came out good.:D
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post #10 of 11

Chicken

I have recently worked in a brasserie where we did a lot of half chickens on the grill. If you can access a combi oven near the grill, steam the chicken with the marinade, and throw them straight onto the grill whilst hot. The steaming will keep the chicken moist, cooked and will start to render the fat which once on the grill will go all nice and crispy.

Note, we didn't do this a la minute, we steamed all our chicken in advance and chilled them down for service.


Alternatively, use some gastro containers and make yourself a steamer, this will work aswell.

-L
post #11 of 11
check out cambros, restaurant supply houses carry them......
huge ones cost $$$ but it's like have extra stoves/grills on site.
Party rental places have equipment, each carries different shtuff and maintenence may vary between companies ditto pricing. Worth exploring as you set up shop.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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