I’ve been asked to cook approximately 25 steaks for a Christmas luncheon. My container will only hold about 8 steaks. Anyone have suggestions?
I think you really need to get a bigger container.
Bill, - Suggestions?
Can you say, “No, thank you?”
If you have to ask for suggestions how confident are you that you can do this successfully? Do your continued employment prospects depend on a successful outcome?
Cooking steaks for a group is best left to someone with considerable knowledge and experience. People are often fussy and consider themselves quality steak experts. Considering the lack of details you provide this might be too much of a challenge. Cooking for 25 is not the same as your usual home cooked meal.
If “No” isn’t an option here’s some critical items to think about in your planning.
Where is this potential culinary disaster taking place?
Is there sufficient refrigeration to accomodate food for approximately 25 guests?
Will you SV cook at the site, or off-site in advance? (My recommendation.)
How, if you are planning to, finish / sear the steaks?
Is there ample ventilation if that searing step is being done indoors?
What heat source is available.
Are you responsible for an entire menu or just steaks?
Do we need to discuss menu?
What kind of steaks are you serving? Thickness? Boneless? (Please don’t attempt Porterhouse.)
What degree of doneness? To order? All the same doneness?
What is the planned method of service, plates, platters, buffet?
- And so on.
Well I’m experienced enough to know this won’t be a culinary disaster. I’ve done as many as twelve steaks at one time with very good results. Given the fact our luncheon is on a Monday I’d prefer to cook steaks over the weekend prior. I have more than enough refrigeration to handle this. Guessing the steaks to be strips in the 12oz. range and be fairly uniform. I will probably cook to a 127 to 129 temp and then sear on a charcoal grill. I just haven’t done much cook ahead meals and assume I can’t really go from fridge to grill.
Bill, since you’ve had success cooking a dozen please pardon my invalid assumption. You are only doubling that.
Absolitely cook the steaks ahead on the weekend in clearly labeled packs. Don’t stack the steaks.
Ounces don’t matter… As always, let thickness be your guide for cooking time.
Advance cooking requires ice bath chilling before refrigerated holding in the unopened cooking bags. Complete chilling is thickness dependant and requires about the same length of time as cooking.
For maximum food safety consider SV cooking to the point of Pasteurization at a minimum of 131ᴼF, Medium - Rare, which is usually acceptable when serving a group. You didn’t disclose the degree of prefered doneness so i can’t help much with that. If you want to cook to various degrees of doneness see today’s post by knowlegible Community member Ember describing the staged cooking technique.
Monday morning, the day of service, you will need to reheat the steaks to just below their cooking temperature. If the charcoal grill is all you have then it will have to be your heat source. First thing Monday start the charcoal. Have lots of fuel as it will need to be replenished for searing.
A couple of stock pots, at least 12 qt size and larger would be better, will hold 25 steaks and enough water for effective heat transfer. Once the water is heated buffer the heat source using bricks to raise the pots well above the fire. All you need is water maintained below cooking temperature. Monitor water temperature frequently. The steaks should completely reheat in the water for about 2 hours.
Searing will have to be very quick. Do 4 or 5 at a time maximum. Use 18’ broiler tongs to save your knuckles.
Make it a great meal.
Bill, PS: i always bring HD aluminum foil to every point of service for its many uses. The foil can be used to deflect heat from the charcoal in adjusting water temperature.
Your most significant challenge is going to be stabilizing the reheating water temperature warming the steaks while not overcooking them. If you have a remote thermameter with an alarm this is the time it’s going to be most useful.
If you don’t have a remote digital thermometer the dual temperature monitoring ThermoPro brand TP - 17 or the TP - 20 ( wireless) are a good value and sufficiently accurate. I consider one essential for successful outdoor cooking.
Consider whole tenderloins perhaps?
Hey bill in my opinion sous vide on the day on site is probably the easiest option if that’s a possibility all you need is a decent sized cooler to use as the bath and some plastic wrap I think you guys in the US call it clinch paper? As a way to avoid evaporation and help maintain temperature I use this method when dealing with multiple beef rib racks or multiple briskets that won’t fit my daily driver otherwise you can pre pasturise the steaks and ice bath them as said previously then you only need to throw them back in with the circulator for about half an hour to warm back up before searing
Thanks very much for all the advice and suggestions. Here are my current thoughts: I’m going to cook the steaks the weekend prior to serving and drop in ice bath. All will be marked as to doneness as I have requests for Med-Rare, Medium, Med-Well and Well done. I have a fairly large ice chest that I will fill with water on the day of serving and bring steaks up to 131 and then seer on a hot charcoal grill. Please feel free to advise on anything I might be missing as I very much appreciate the forum.
Don’t try to do this on your own. You will need at least one more person assisting you depending on the planned service method. Decanting, drying, seasoning, searing, and serving 25 steaks is too much for one person.
Half an hour won’t adequately reheat 25 steaks. An hour might.
Have 2 sets of separate disposable aluninum pans for steaks of each degree of doneness, - ready to sear and seared.
Label pans with a Sharpie indicating doneness.
Sear in declining order of doneness, Well-Dones first, etc.
I line pans for cooked steaks with sliced bead as it insulates steaks from the metal and looks better than not.
If you’re in the South as a Lagniappe lightly brush those bread slices with melted butter and grill, cut in half, and pass around in the cooked steak pans. Delicious.
Make it a great Christmas luncheon.
Thanks again. A little something extra is always good at Christmas time.
I use a smallish cooler (Eski in Australia) that is big enough to hold all the pre cooked steaks and then reheat them prior to final sear. I find one ANOVA is enough to maintain the reheat temp to properly reheat them all without further cooking . Just try and keep a bit of a gap between packs, not much, just a bit.30 to 40 min is usually right but easy to check by removing a pack, leave for a few minutes and feel it.
Lining the pans with buttered bread to reduce heat loss, then toasting the bread,this sounds effective and delicious! LOL!
It’s a delicious surprise that guests remember. Every great meal deserves one surprise.
If there’s time while melting the butter add a few crushed cloves of garlic and a 4-finger pinch of chopped fresh parsley leaves to go a little upscale. No parsley, well then how about a few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary from your sunny window sill pots?