I am a serious home cook and have cooked often for large groups. I am planning a fundraiser banquet for 80 people at my church. I have access to the kitchen with professional 6 burner stove with double ovens that hold full sized pans and a small flat top. The meal will be seated and served by waiters. I have good home cook helpers. I need advice about menu.
I was thinking of preparing both a vegetable lasagna and meat sauce lasagna ahead. My helpers are willing to make them the day before and I have two great recipes. They would come in the typical home 9 x 13 Pyrex pan or aluminum pan. I am afraid that the aluminum would taint the acid based sauce (they are both red sauced.) i also wonder about fitting those individual pans in the oven to reheat. also how to reheat without drying out the lasagna. I also wonder about the expense as they both use lots of good cheeses and the meat sauce is veal, pork and beef so more than beef or sausage would be. Also, is lasagna to "ordinary.'
I next tried chicken cacciatore. My recipe is delicious and less expensive but it needs some starch to absorb the sauce. I used papperedelle and loved that, but I think it may be hard to plate on regular plates (we ill not have access to pasta bowls and I don't want to rent them.) I wonder about polenta squares that are reheated on the flat top to give them some crisp. Then sauce lightly and garnish with s simple Italian greens salad.
The first course with be platters of assorted antipasti on each table. Two or three different crostini with spreads I can make ahead, olives, cherry tomatoes, a bit of cheese and possible some salami.
Today I am trying some canoli shells I found at the restaurant supply to see if cannoli will work as dessert. I will make a traditional filling and bring to a pot luck this evening where my helper cooks can decide if they will work. I just don't know if they can sit any time at all once filled. I think not. That will be less of a problem at the banquet than tonight but we will see.
I am open to any other menu suggestions. This fund raiser is for a medical mission to Haiti, so it is important to retain as much of the donations for the mission and not use it all for food. We hope to get some food donated. We are asking for a $25 donation per person.