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Recipes for a crowd – Spaghetti Bolognaise

Posted on February 15, 2010 by in catering

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Tasty Recipes for a crowd is hard to find and the emphasis here is on “Tasty”. I have been to many big functions in my life and the one thing that always bothers me is the fact that the food lacks taste and depth of flavor. To cook for a crowd is not easy, trust me.

The logistics of pot size, gas burners, keeping the food warm, is a nightmare in itself. I know there are companies who do this on a regular basis, but I am now talking about me….a simple old cook who loves to entertain. On Saturday night we catered for 200 people and although this is not the first time that we have done this, the fact that we did a very low-budget meal, made this quite tricky…  First of all, let me tell you that we charged R60pp( about 8$) and that included the following…
Assortment of crostini with pea pesto, tomato salsa and liver patee
Spaghetti Bolognaise with fresh parmesan
Ice-cream with chocolate sauce and toasted nuts
Crostinis with Pea Pesto and tomato salsa in the making….
I single-handedly made just over 900 crostini,luckily for me I had willing hands to do the toppings for me on Saturday night. I got very good reviews about these tarty little breads and the pea pesto was a hot favorite.
 My sister’s little one showing how big the pot is…..
Cooking for a crowd does not only require recipes for a crowd, but planning, planning and more planning is needed, especially if you have to set up the kitchen from scratch. Thank God, I had my sister on my side, she is just phenomenal when it comes to planning and organizing. As soon as I had figured out a tasty recipe for the bolognaise, I  woke up one night in a cold sweat realizing that cooking the pasta is the thing that will be more challenging….  In my home, I cook pasta often and when the pasta is cooked, you simply pour the pasta and water over a colander and draining is a breeze. When you have 200 hungry people waiting for you, you cannot afford to lose  all that hot water and you need to preserve it for the next lot of pasta. In the end we used chips fryer ladles and having ten pots of boiling pasta on the gas was not as daunting as I thought it would be….
3 of 10 pots ready for pasta….
Without further ado then, here is one of my recipes for a crowd…..
Spaghetti Bolognaise ( serves 200)
25kg top quality steak mince
4 kg onions – finely chopped
2 heads of garlic – peeled and chopped
a couple of twigs of rosemary and thyme
lots and lots of fresh basil
2 bottles of red wine
20x 410 gr cans chopped tomatoes
20 sachets  tomato paste
4 tins tomato puree
about 1 cup sugar
125ml worchester sauce
250ml balsamic vinegar
250ml olive oil
about 4 handfuls of salt
about 2 handfuls of pepper
about 3 liters of beef stock
Heat the oil in a huge pot and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the basil and let it just wilt…. Now bit by bit add the minced beef and with a large fork, work all the lumps out. It is almost impossible to brown the meat, so just try your best here. Add all the other ingredients and cook  on low heat for about 40minutes to an hour. taste and add whatever is needed in the form of salt, pepper or maybe a little more sugar.  Keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta….
And I can hear you all ask……how much pasta………
We cooked 40×500 pasta…..true as bob!!!!
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and fresh parmesan…..
…and now I am tired……
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18 Responses to “Recipes for a crowd – Spaghetti Bolognaise”

  1. Bellini Valli 15 February 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Cooking for 200 is a daunting task for sure Nina…but you did it and the prople loved it…so that is what matters most of all!!!!!!

  2. Jan 15 February 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Nina – I should think you were tired after that!
    Well done you!

  3. Marisa 15 February 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    As they say in Afrikaans: Ek haal my hoed af vir jou! I get flustered when I have to cook for 10 nevermind 200! Looks like you did an amazing job though.

  4. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen 15 February 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    You are taking a well deserved rest in that last photo! Everything looks delicious! What a feat, Nina! Most impressive!

  5. Helene 15 February 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    It would take me the day to cook for 200. That's a big task.

  6. My Carolina Kitchen 16 February 2010 at 12:53 am #

    I love the last photo. That's a lot of people to cook for. No way I could handle that many, just no way. But good for you. I know you must feel a great sense of accomplishment.

  7. Cynthia 16 February 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Nina your are phenomenal! I am forever amazed by your skill and creativity.

  8. Peter M 16 February 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Nina, I totally relate what you went through, cooking for a large crowd but it's both exhausting and fun.

    Bravo and encore!

  9. Juliana 16 February 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Nina…you are amazing…great job!

  10. Nina Timm 16 February 2010 at 4:48 am #

    val – I believe that it is the only way to grow, put yourself through these tests now and then….thank you!

    jan – you have no idea how tired!!

    marisa – baie dankie!!

    jenn – by the time that photo was taken, I was finished!!

    helene – it really did take me a day!!!

    my carolina kitchen – I maintain that it is just the pot size that differs…..10 or 200..same thing!!

    cynthia – thank you my friend!

    peter – absolutely…great fun!!

    juliana – thank you!!

  11. Pam 16 February 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I bet you were tired! I can't imagine feeding such a huge crowd. Your nephew in the pot is too cute.

  12. Katerina 16 February 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    I love bolognese and make it frequently — though not to this scale.

    I have never seen Worcestershire in it before though!

  13. elly 17 February 2010 at 5:15 am #

    I only just recently cooked for about 20 people – I can't imagine 200! Your bolognese sounds fantastic, but then what with 2 bottles of wine doesn't? 🙂

  14. Proud Italian Cook 19 February 2010 at 6:53 am #

    If anyone could do it, it's you Nina! I'm sure it tasted amazing as we can see, you always put your heart and soul in your cooking. Now go get a massage girl, that's alot of work!

  15. jeanne @ Cooksister! 2 March 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Wow – you are a braver woman than me!! The most I've cooked for is 40 and you are right – in a domestic kitchen keeping the food properly warm is a near-impossible task. Looks heavenly though!

  16. Kathy 29 March 2011 at 3:14 am #

    Wish i can have this right on my table for dinner! super delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  17. Priscilla 13 March 2018 at 10:54 am #

    How much mince do you need when making spagetthi bolognaise for 160 people

    • nerinatimm 2 April 2018 at 12:02 pm #


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