Monday, November 9, 2009

Hawaiian Haystacks

I had a very busy weekend organizing a dinner for 100 16-18 year old young men and women on Saturday. Once the stressful planning is over, it is always fun to serve the food. I always think, "I could do this for a living!"

I did not choose the menu, but I have served this meal to a similar number of youth before. However, do you think I kept my notes? This time I took copious notes on how much of everything it takes to serve this meal to 100 people, and I put them in a place that will be forever safe as well as accessible. Sometimes when I put things in a safe spot, I cannot retrieve them later, but not so with these notes. They are in my personal journal.

The people that were helping me cut the vegetables were amazing! We cut 12 bell peppers, 3 stalks of celery, and 25 tomatoes in ONE HOUR and there were only 2 of us for part of the time and 3 for the rest of the hour!

One of the people who helped me last time I made this meal for an equally large group had a nifty recipe for the chicken gravy. Even if you use homemade gravy or fresh chicken at home, this recipe is really the way to go for a large group. The proportions are 2-3 cans cream of chicken soup to 1 equal size can of chicken broth, then add canned chicken (or turkey). For 100 people I used 7 cans cream of chicken, 3 cans chicken broth and 8-12 ounce cans chicken.

The only glitch... I had no idea that all rice cookers did not work the same. The last time I did this, there were enough people on the committee that we all were in charge of bringing 12 cups of cooked rice. This time, we ended up with some rice that was mushy; it's a good thing that the rice was on the bottom so as soon as the gravy and toppings were on it, no one knew the difference! The whole problem with cooking 25-30 pounds of rice is that you really can't cook more than 12-15 cups of cooked rice at one time. Therefore, we had 6 rice cookers plus my BIG pot (x2) cooking rice. I'm still working on a solution to the "cooking large quantities of rice" issue. For this meal, 1 cup of cooked rice per person is too much but 1/2 cup is really not enough unless it is a small group and you know the people will not eat more. For the large group, I settled on 3/4 (+ or -) cup of rice per person.

We have honed it to include our family preferences: crisp Chinese noodles, rice, chicken gravy, celery, pineapple, coconut, and a cherry on top (although we don't often include the cherries any more since I am the only REAL Maraschino cherry fan in the family). I have discovered that a lot of people like the cheese and tomatoes; bell peppers and green onions make most anything taste better and the other things... well, I don't use them at home, but they are always eaten when served to a large group.

Also, for a larger group, I like to serve the pineapple tidbits-they are not as messy as as the crushed pineapple and actually go further... and the chunks, well, I find them to be a little too big for my pleasure. I have bought #10 cans of pineapple tidbits for years at my favorite club stores, but this weekend there were no #10 cans of pineapple to be found at the grocery store, Costco, BJ's, or Sysco. Fortunately, I found tidbits on sale so there we were Saturday afternoon opening LOTS of 20 ounce cans (15 to be exact) of pineapple!


Hawaiian Haystacks
Betty

I realize that this is a mainstay among many, but the first time I heard of it I thought it sounded gross! To my surprise it was yummy and my family enjoys it every time!

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups chicken, cubed
4 cups cooked rice
1 can/bag crisp Chow Mein noodles
3 medium tomatoes, chopped (or cherry or grape tomatoes)
1 cup celery
½ cup green pepper, chopped
½ cup chopped green onion (or other onion)
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup coconut
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained
½ cup slivered or sliced almonds
Maraschino cherries
Other possibilities that I have seen: sliced or chopped black olives, raisins, and sliced bananas

Combine soup and chicken broth in saucepan to make gravy. Stir to blend. Add chicken. Simmer 10 minutes until heated through. Serve on 8 individual plates layered according to choice.

Option: First layer rice, Chow Mein noodles, chicken and gravy. Add tomatoes, celery, green pepper and onion. Top with pineapple, cheese and more chicken and gravy, if desired.

Option: Place each item in a bowl to be served from. Each person builds their own haystack.

What I Do: We pared the toppings down to celery, crushed pineapple, and coconut on top of the noodles, rice and gravy with shredded chicken in it. When cherries were in season, I would sometimes buy fresh cherries to use on top. Often I make the gravy using a white sauce recipe and replacing the milk with either chicken broth or bouillon or use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup with 1 cup chicken broth or bouillon and 1 cup of chopped chicken or turkey. Serves 6-8.

9 comments:

Stephanie Millar said...

Well sorry this is only Steph, but are we allowed to request recipes for your blog?

MOM of Eight said...

PLEASE do! :)

Summer said...

I found your blog by googling "hawaiian haystacks for 50 people" :)
I'm wondering, though you did do this a long time ago, if you remember how much you used to serve your 100 people. It doesn't look like you multiplied it straight from the 6-8 servings recipe. Any help you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks! Summer (sumbyjo at hotmail dot com)

MOM of Eight said...

Summer, thanks for asking. I have a large family of large eaters with their own preferences. Because of this, in our family we use more of certain things than other people might use. I found that when I cook for large groups outside my family, I usually do not use nearly as much per person of each item. For example, my family uses a lot of rice when we eat Hawaiian Haystacks, but when I cooked it for 100, we had lots of rice leftover (we multiplied out 12 cups of cooked rice for my family of 10 would be 120 cups of cooked rice for 100--WAY too much rice!) I have made this meal for large groups a couple of times and have found that if you plan relatively conservatively unless you happen to know they are all big eaters, you will probably make enough. We also narrowed it down to rice, crunchy Chinese noodles, gravy, celery, pineapple, coconut, marachino cherries, bell peppers, and tomatoes. We only used a pound or two of coconut (again much less than for my family).

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. I didn't quite know the amounts for the gravy. This saved me so much time!!!

Valerie Wilson said...

Hello All. I just served Hawaiian Haystacks to 50 people. I made the chicken gravy and rice, then assigned out the rest. This is what worked for us:
CHICKEN and GRAVY: 7 quarts. (I cooked one large Purdu roaster chicken, picked off all the meat, put it in the crockpot, then added enough gravy to almost fill my 7 quart crockpot. Personally, I don't care for canned cream of chicken soup, and since it's so easy to make your own, I just kept making till I filled the crockpot.)
RICE: plan on about 1/2 cup per person. (I discovered Aldi's Instant Brown Rice and it is GREAT, so I used that. 4-5 boxes would be enough).
TOMATOES: 10-12 chopped.
CELERY: a medium size bowl full (I think that would be one large bunch).
CARROTS, grated,: about one pound. ONIONS:one bunch of green, chopped.
CRAN-RAISENS: 2 bags.
PINEAPPLE tidbits: 6 large cans. MANDARIN ORANGES: 10 cans.
COCONUT: one bag shredded.
LETTUCE: 3 heads shredded or chopped fine.
BELL PEPPERS: 6 chopped.
CHEESE: grated, 2 large bags. CHINESE NOODLES 2 large bags. NUTS: we used peanuts, one jar.
RANCH DRESSING 1 large bottle.
ROLLS: about 4 dozen
BUTTER: 2 sticks of butter.
You certainly don't have to use all of these ingredients! We wanted to involve everybody, and have a nice variety. I hope this helps somebody out there!

Cub Scouter said...

When you said 7 cans of soup in the recipe for 100, what size cans of soup did you mean?

MOM of Eight said...

Cub Scouter...These are the smallish/normal 10 3/4 oz. and the 14.5 ounces for the chicken broth. Thanks for asking!

Cheff Ashonti said...

Hi so Im wondering does this recipe exactly feed 100... Im gonna take it and covert the recipe to feed 300. When I do my math it doesnt seem right though. Help me please, Thank you!