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Entertaining 411

The number one question we get from our clients during the event planning process is how much food and beverages they need to serve their guests. The most important factor you need to consider is the type of event; formal (sit down), buffet (self served) or passed (Hors D’oeuvres).

For formal or sit down events, the amount of food is pretty much determined by the number of place settings. However, if you are planning a self served buffet or passed Hors D’oeuvres, there some other basic factors you need to consider.

  • Day of the week – as a general rule; people are more relax during the weekend so they tend to eat more and try new things.
  • Time of the event – the closer to a meal time, the more people will expect.
  • Length of the event – the longer the event, the more you will need.
  • Age group of people – this is a very important one and one most people over look. Single and young people will always eat more. Married couples (especially with kids) are on a daily schedule and they always plan for the “what if”; so there’s a very good chance they will have a snack before showing to your event. The same with the elders; they are on the clock and have a daily plan for their meals and snacks.
  • Type of food – this is a critical one. Themed events, as well as ethic food can turn into a disaster. You know your guests more than anyone else so run down the list to get an idea if a themed event will be a good idea. If so, try to stay within the most popular ones; like Mexican, Italian, Caribbean or American. Combining a couple of them is not a bad idea.

Here are some other tips,

  • Always round-up your estimates.
  • Anticipate which food selections will be most popular and serve more of them than the general portion guidelines suggest.
  • The more choices you offer, the smaller your calculation of individual portion size should be.
  • Assume your guests will taste everything on a buffet, but the tastes will be small. However, overall consumption per individual will be greater than if there were fewer choices.
  • Add “bulk” items to your menu such as bread, crackers, nuts, olives, cheese, etc.

What about individual serving size? Here is basic guidelines caterers use for various foods. Multiply these estimates by your number of guests and, once again, always round-up your estimates.

Portion Size Per Person

Hors d’oeuvre

  • 6 bites when preceding a meal.
  • 4 – 6 bites per hour when hors d’oeuvre are the meal.
  • The longer your party and the larger your guest list, the greater the number of selections you should offer.

The Main Meal

  • Poultry, meat or fish – 6 ounces when you have one main dish, 4 ounces when you offer two or more main courses.
  • Rice, grains – 1.5 ounces as a side dish, 2 ounces in a main dish such as risotto.
  • Potatoes – 5 ounces
  • Vegetables – 4 ounces
  • Beans – 2 ounces as a side dish
  • Pasta – 2 ounces for a side dish, 3 ounces for a first course, 4 ounces for a main dish
  • Green Salad – 1 ounce undressed weight

Desserts

  • 1 slice cake, tart or pastry
  • 4 ounces creamy dessert such as pudding or mousse
  • 5 ounces ice cream
  • When serving two of the above, reduce each by half.

Beverages

  • 1 drink per person every ½ hour for the first hour, then 1 drink per hour for each additional hour.

General Beverages (coffee, tea, juice, water) – 1 gallon = 128 oz or 16– 8 oz cups in a gallon (2 cups per person)

Beer

  • 1 case beer serves 24-12 oz bottles
  • 1 keg beer serves 165.3 –12 oz beers or 15.5 gallons
  • 1 keg = 7 cases of beer
  • 1 pony keg (1/2 keg) serves 83-12 oz beers or 7.5 gallons

Wine/Champagne

  • 1 bottle of wine serves 5 (5 oz glasses)
  • 1 case of wine = 12 bottles of wine serves (60-5 oz glasses)
  • 1 bottle champagne serves 6 (4 oz glasses)

A Few Other Menu Planning Tips

  • Don’t repeat a main ingredient. For example, don’t serve a shrimp appetizer and shrimp main dish.
  • Consider the colors of the food that will be served together and make sure there is variety.
  • Offer both hot and cold foods on a buffet.

Tips when hiring a caterer,

  • Big is not always better. Some big companies sub contract their work to smaller ones. Verify this is not the case with yours.
  • Ensure they have a cancellation policy.
  • Find out when is the last day to provide a final count.
  • If they are serving the food, ask them about their left-over policy.
  • Ask for references.

We hope these tips have been helpful. For more information, please visit us at http://www.piscolabiscatering.com.

Arroz Relleno con Pollo (rice with chicken)

This is one of my favorite recipes. An adaptation of my mother’s suitable for freezing.  Although there is not a lot of ingredients; it is time consuming so allow plenty of time to prepare. The rice is cooked and layered with chicken, bacon, onions and mozzarella cheese; then oven baked. It can be served as an entrée or side dish. 
 
Total time – 3-4 hr
 
Yield – 6-8 servings
 
Serving suggestion –  with your favorite salad and ripped fried plantains on the side.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 2 Medium onion diced
  • 1 lb of bacon diced into small pieces
  • 3 cups rice; uncooked
  • 8 cups of water (divided, 4,2,2)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4-6 packets of powdered chicken bouillon
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • salt to taste

Procedure – to save time, the first four steps can be done at the same time.

Fully cook the chicken by boiling or baking it. Don’t worry about adding flavor to the chicken at this point. Once done, remove skin and shred the chicken. Set aside.

On a large skillet, combine the onion and bacon and cook at low-med heat until the bacon gets browned (not crispy). The bacon will provide plenty of salt and the fat from the bacon will prevent the mix from sticking to the pan; however, you must stir the mix constantly to ensure that the onions and bacon are cooked evenly.

Once your bacon and onions are done, mix in the shredded chicken. Add 1 packet of the chicken bouillon into 2 cups of water and add to the mix.  Cover the skillet and let the mix simmer in low heat while you finish cooking the rice.

Cook the rice – On an aluminum cast (caldero), pour in 4 cups of water, add the 4 packets of powdered chicken bouillon and butter. Cover and bring to a boil to make sure the butter melts. Add salt if needed. (Note: The water mix should be the salty side). Bring heat down to medium, add the rice and stir. Cover once the excess water has evaporated. Cook the rice as you would normally do to achieve proper tenderness.

Put it together….like a lasagna.

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees. dissolve 1 packet of powdered chicken bouillon in 2 cups of water a set aside. Grease the bottom of a deep rectangular pan.  Pour in some of the rice and press it to create a layer of about 1  to 1 1/2 inches deep. Add the chicken mix and spread across the pan. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella cheese. Cover the chicken mix with another layer of rice; pressing it firmly. Cover with the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Splash the chicken bouillon water mix across the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until the cheese melts. Remove aluminum foil and broil until golden brown. Cut and serve like a lasagna.

Buen Provecho.

For great party trays and dinner packages visit us at www.piscolabicatering.com.

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Grilled Chicken Breast with Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a delicious marinade that is typically used on beef, but its flavors make it outstanding on chicken or even fish. It biggest advantage is that you can prepare it well in advance as it can be refrigerated for long periods of time. As a matter of fact, the longer you let it sit, the more flavor you are going to get out of it. This is a great alternative for a last-minute meal. Grilling the chicken will bring out even more flavor to the dish.

Total time – 20 minutes

Yield – 6 servings

Serving suggestions – Make it a light meal by just adding your salad of choice or vegetable medley. Asparagus are a great option.

Ingredients

  •  6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Thin-Sliced
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Chimichurri

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 small hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet red pepper, ground
  • 2 bay leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

Season chicken with 1/4 cup of oil, salt and pepper.

Mix all the Chimichurri ingredients and set aside in a covered glass bowl. Let it sit for 12 hours, mixing occasionally to bring out the flavor and aroma of the ingredients.

In a saucepan or on a grill, brown the chicken breasts on both sides.

Spoon the Chimichurri on top of the chicken and serve.

Buen provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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