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7 Easy Meat Dishes to Feed a Crowd this Summer

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May 28, 2022

As we gear up to celebrate Elli's high school graduation later this summer, we thought that maybe you have something great to celebrate, too! Perhaps an anniversary, a birthday, a graduation party, family reunion, whatever it may be! If you're scratching your head over what to make for the main dish, we put together a list of some simple, tasty main meat dish ideas that are delicious, easy to make in large quantities to feed (and please) a crowd.

Pro Tip: How much meat to make? You can figure about 1/3 pound of meat per person when figuring out how much you need to serve. Account for extra poundage for bone in cuts like chuck roast and shoulder roast. If you will have more side dishes available, you can figure more like 1/4 pound of meat per person. If you have big meat eaters in the crowd and not much for sides, you can up your estimation to 1/2 pound per person.

Before we get started, consider this: Equipment - If you're going to make the meat yourself, make sure you have the equipment you need to do so. If not, connect with a friend who does and see if you can borrow theirs. Slow cookers and Nescos are especially helpful for hosting big events! Or, if you have a friend who loves to use their big smoker, recruit them to help! You bring the brisket, they bring the equipment. :)

1. Pulled Pork - Most commonly made with pork shoulder (butt) roasts, you can find a friend with a smoker and smoke them, or go the simpler route and cook them in a Nesco, large roasting pan, or slow cooker. Simply slow cook them the day before with some BBQ sauce for about 8 hours, then pull them apart with a fork. Remove the bones and keep the meat on warm in a slow cooker and serve with buns.

2. Sloppy Joe - Another easy, Midwest favorite. Thaw the meat ahead of time and brown it on the stove top, draining any unwanted fat. Saute some chopped onions and peppers in a slow cooker with some oil on the bottom, then add the meat and stir. Combine your favorite sloppy joe seasoning with some water, then add to slow cooker with meat, onions, and peppers. Stir it up, and let it cook for a few hours before serving. Yum!

3. Taco Bar - You can't go wrong with a taco bar. From ground beef, to pork carnitas, or even chicken, you can mix up the meat options and easily make it vegetarian friendly with black beans, refried beans, sweet potatoes, and more. Use your favorite seasoning mixes. Consider having some spicier and some milder options to appease all of your guest's taste buds.

4. Shredded Chicken Sandwiches - This one is great on it's own, or could be incorporated into the taco bar, as well. For sandwiches, season with your favorite BBQ sauce. For tacos, season with your favorite fajita or taco seasoning. Cook the chickens the day before either in the oven in a roaster or in a Nesco/slow cooker, depending on space and tools you have available. Season the chicken as you prefer; BBQ, taco, etc.. When the meat is cooked, carefully pull the meat off, so as to not have any stray bones. Add any additional seasoning or sauce as you like and set in a slow cooker with some water for another crowd pleasing option!

5. Shredded Beef Sandwiches - Made with either brisket or chuck roasts, shredded beef is another Midwest classic. Consider smoking the brisket, if you have a smoker available to you, for a real delight. Otherwise, you can slow roast them, as you would the chuck roast, too, in a slow cooker, with beef broth, a little bit of herbs, and wine for a savory beef sandwich. You can make them more of a BBQ sweet style sandwich, too, if you like, by adding BBQ sauce instead, when cooking!

6. Easy Ham Sandwiches - Roast a ham, just as you would for Easter or Christmas, in the oven, a slow cooker, or a Nesco. When cooked, slice and carve and keep in a warmer (like a slow cooker) so people can assemble their own ham sandwiches that are quick, easy, and most importantly, delicious! Provide cheese, mustard, and buns on the side and you're set!

7. Simple Meatballs - This is a great one because they are easy to do in advance, relatively cheap, and easy to prepare a lot of at once and cook a lot of at once. Use a mix of ground beef and ground pork to bring the cost down. Thaw the meat ahead of time, grab your favorite recipe, then form into balls and bake on a jelly roll pan in the oven. Either freeze them right away if you're making them more than a few days ahead of time, or keep them in the fridge until the big day. Then set them in a slow cooker with some water or sauce to heat them up and you'll have some very happy eaters at your party!

Don't forget the Appetizers! Charcuterie salamis make the perfect appetizer or bring along dish to any party! Simply order your favorite flavors, slice thin, then serve on a charcuterie board with cheese, crackers, fruit, etc., for easy, delicious, party snacking!

Happy celebrating this Summer! We hope that gives you some tasty ideas to please the crowds for whatever event you're celebrating this year. :)

Here are some quick links to some of the meats mentioned above:

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