Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cooking Simply in Season for a crowd

Had a nice chat this evening with a woman in Indiana who’s going to be making SIS Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos for a group of 200. Wow!

Cooking for a crowd that size is quite a different thing from your typical supper for four or two or six, so we were brainstorming how to adapt the recipe to make it work. As we say in the SIS preface, recipes are meant to be "a theme on which to playfully improvise rather than a blueprint to follow precisely." And it simply wasn't designed for groups of 200 -- although it can and has been used to feed a crowd.

The cook had a bushel of sweet potatoes on hand, and thought of buying a french fry cutter to help do the chopping. That brought back fond memories from when I was growing up. Back in the days before cholesterol was invented, our favorite and fairly regular Sunday noon meal was hamburgers and homemade french fries. I don't remember that much about the hamburgers -- I think Mom cooked them under the broiler -- but I remember the french fries quite vividly! We had a cutter and a little deep fryer, and we ker-chunk ker-chunk cut and fried potato after potato.

Anyway, I think a french fry cutter might work really well. The sweet potatoes don't need to be in cubes -- just halves or third of the sticks should be fine. Toss with some oil and then roast in a single (or shallow) layer, stirring occasionally, until tender. The regular recipe calls for pan-frying, but you’d need an awfully big skillet for 200 people!

Other stories anyone would like to share about adapting a SIS recipe for a crowd?

My favorite use of the Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos filling is to panfry it in a tortilla, quesadilla-style. Must say, I really like this idea: Brush the tortillas with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon before serving.


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