Making a little recipe into a big one
May 17, 2006 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Cooking Filter: I need to convert a recipe that serves eight into a recipe that serves 100.

I'm a making a rice and zucchini gratin for my cousin's wedding (as the only vegetarian in a very large family of meat eaters, it always falls upon me to do the interesting veg dish). The gratin involves making a bechamel sauce, and I'm worried that the hugeness of the batches will effect the technique that I should be using, as well as baking time. Any pros out there to advise me (beyond 'next time lock them in a closet until they agree to get it catered').
posted by Sara Anne to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
Trying to bake them all at once properly would require tremendous heat. Perhaps you should prebake them just short of done, and keep them warm, and reheat/broil-brown them before serving.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:04 AM on May 17, 2006

My husband and I are caterers. Email me the recipe at peachtreecatering at and we'll see what suggestions we can make.

When is the wedding?
posted by lemoncello at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2006

Huge batches will do away with huge swaths of the best part of any gratin: the crust. The best thing for you to do is to make ten portions in aluminium pans, and either bake them ahead of time, as StickyCarpet suggests, leaving enough moisture to withstand a reheating (I would not broil them, as this will burn the top and leave the innards cold).

Prep will be key: chop the vegetables early and either keep them soaking or blanche them to avoid mushing/brown spots (esp the zucchini), and set them aside.

Make the bechamel sauce as you normally would. You should not have to alter your technique (although I would take care to manage the heat well--shouldn't be a problem if you cook with gas and a pot with either clad steel or annondized aluminium bottom). I would not make the sauce ahead of time, as quickly cooling quarts of bechamel quickly (to avoid contamination issues) will probably require you to fill your bathtub with icewater and if you're not careful, could separate the sauce rather quickly.

Whenever I've done something of this magnitude, the most important thing is to keep organized, and practice assembly line technique.

on preview: go ahead and do whatever lemoncello suggests.
posted by kosem at 9:22 AM on May 17, 2006

I agree, lots of small batches is the key.
Plus you have to make the bechamel in small batches, otherwise you will end up with a huge gloppy/chunky/lumpy mess.
if you double the recipe, you only need about 6 times that.
So you could make it 6 times, and still cook it in smaller pans to get a good "gratin" taste and look on the top crust.
posted by psq at 9:53 PM on May 24, 2006

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