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Solo holiday dinner prep?


HowardLi
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Plan plan plan...

Pick several dishes that can be served cold, or at room temperature, or stored at room temperature. Minimize the amount of stuff you have to do at the last minute. Plan some more. Do you have a slow cooker? You can use it keep soup or sauces warm, although you probably shouldn't reheat items from cold in it. Where are you located? Do you have a grill? Mine has a side burner that I can use to simmer things, and I've reheated items on the grill with the lid down like an oven.

I know a lot of people would say don't try anything for the first time when you're entertaining, but I love using that opportunity to make foods I've never tried before. That being said, I do keep a notebook with ideas that I come across throughout the year and I try to make them at least once before I serve them to guests if it's feasible.

And did I mention planning?

Oh yeah, and good wine will smooth out any rough edges!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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I can probably borrow a slow cooker, and my sous vide system can heat a vessel of any size - would be a very good warmer, I think, as long as the food could handle either a) being tightly sealed, or b) high humidity.

I will not have access to the grill, but even if I did, I wouldn't really want to use it. I live up north.

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Here's what I have so far:

Standing rib roast

Yorkshire pudding (it's a maybe - requires coordination and deft mental acuity)

Broccoli soup

Mac & cheese

Egg nog

Tiramisu

Apple pie

The latter group will be made ahead of time, though I'm not 100% sure that the MC mac & cheese will hold up well to warming. If anybody can offer suggestions as to what temperature it should be held at for pre-tabling, 'twould be much appreciated.

The former group will be cooked the day of, but I don't really see an issue here, if I can make the assumption that a ~6 lb roast cooked at 175 F will render at least a few easily-accessible tablespoons of fat for the Yorkshire pudding.

What I want is at least either a potato-, vegetable-, or legume-based dish, and preferably two, that can stand up to warming for 2-3 hours.

EDIT: On second thought, I think I might do the broccoli soup ahead of time and get it hot on the range.

Edited by HowardLi (log)
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Here's what I have so far:

Standing rib roast

Yorkshire pudding (it's a maybe - requires coordination and deft mental acuity)

Broccoli soup

Mac & cheese

Egg nog

Tiramisu

Apple pie

The latter group will be made ahead of time, though I'm not 100% sure that the MC mac & cheese will hold up well to warming. If anybody can offer suggestions as to what temperature it should be held at for pre-tabling, 'twould be much appreciated.

The former group will be cooked the day of, but I don't really see an issue here, if I can make the assumption that a ~6 lb roast cooked at 175 F will render at least a few easily-accessible tablespoons of fat for the Yorkshire pudding.

What I want is at least either a potato-, vegetable-, or legume-based dish, and preferably two, that can stand up to warming for 2-3 hours.

EDIT: On second thought, I think I might do the broccoli soup ahead of time and get it hot on the range.

The broccoli soup is MUCH better when made fresh - don't reheat it!

Overall, the menu seems very rich and dairy-heavy.

What about adding a salad with assertive greens and a touch of citrus?

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If you make and chill SV dishes in the bags the day ahead, you can safely reheat all of them at the same time using the lowest temp for all the bags. How many are you cooking for? I've found anything less than 40 to be pretty simple in an average home kitchen providing you're well prepared and experienced.

PS: I am a guy.

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Yorkshire pudds must be done fresh, preferably in the drippings of the roast, but they're far less tricky than you think. They only become complicated if you're committed to making them in individual ramekins for each guest - if you do that, you'll find that the first ones into the cups are far superior to the last ones simply because the soda reaction will have had more time to take place by the time you get the last ones into the cups. However, if you treat the pudds as though it's a single souffle, it will do just fine and be very tasty - it slices nicely when hot.

For a potato dish that will stand being kept warm, try scalloped potatoes. They're absurdly easy to make ahead of time and then can simply be held in a warm oven or chafer for extended periods of time (my record is 5 hours at minimum in the oven, silly late guests) without damaging the flavour or texture of the dish any. However, given that you're already serving Mac and Cheese and Yorkshire Pudds, I'd almost consider this to be a starchy overload. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's not balanced either.

In terms of a veg or legume dish, consider chilled ones like what my family calls Roman Beans (green beans in dill vinagrette, preferably with balsamic vinegar), or perhaps chilled asparagus spears in a 5-cheese cream sauce (the sauce can be held warm for long periods in a small crock pot, and the asparagus can be prepared ahead of time). Or, as somebody suggested ever so astutely, a nice assertive green salad.

Best of luck - I'm sure that whatever you end up doing will be a big hit with your guests!

Edit - a good spellar is me! :blink:

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Dont forget that the roast will need about 45 min resting time before serving...so then the oven is free. Last Christmas my rib roast hit temperature almost an hour early and it was puuurfect when I sliced it almost 2 hours later.

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Here's what I have so far:

Standing rib roast

Yorkshire pudding (it's a maybe - requires coordination and deft mental acuity)

Broccoli soup

Mac & cheese

Egg nog

Tiramisu

Apple pie

The latter group will be made ahead of time, though I'm not 100% sure that the MC mac & cheese will hold up well to warming. If anybody can offer suggestions as to what temperature it should be held at for pre-tabling, 'twould be much appreciated.

The former group will be cooked the day of, but I don't really see an issue here, if I can make the assumption that a ~6 lb roast cooked at 175 F will render at least a few easily-accessible tablespoons of fat for the Yorkshire pudding.

What I want is at least either a potato-, vegetable-, or legume-based dish, and preferably two, that can stand up to warming for 2-3 hours.

EDIT: On second thought, I think I might do the broccoli soup ahead of time and get it hot on the range.

The broccoli soup is MUCH better when made fresh - don't reheat it!

Overall, the menu seems very rich and dairy-heavy.

What about adding a salad with assertive greens and a touch of citrus?

Anything you would recommend? Thanks for the tip about the soup.

If you make and chill SV dishes in the bags the day ahead, you can safely reheat all of them at the same time using the lowest temp for all the bags. How many are you cooking for? I've found anything less than 40 to be pretty simple in an average home kitchen providing you're well prepared and experienced.

What would be the "lowest temp"?

About 6.

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If you make and chill SV dishes in the bags the day ahead, you can safely reheat all of them at the same time using the lowest temp for all the bags. How many are you cooking for? I've found anything less than 40 to be pretty simple in an average home kitchen providing you're well prepared and experienced.

What would be the "lowest temp"?

Say you prepare 3 SV preparations at 120F, 130F & 160F. You can then chill all the preparations down for storage, and then reheat all of them in the same bath at 120F.

PS: I am a guy.

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If you make and chill SV dishes in the bags the day ahead, you can safely reheat all of them at the same time using the lowest temp for all the bags. How many are you cooking for? I've found anything less than 40 to be pretty simple in an average home kitchen providing you're well prepared and experienced.

What would be the "lowest temp"?

Say you prepare 3 SV preparations at 120F, 130F & 160F. You can then chill all the preparations down for storage, and then reheat all of them in the same bath at 120F.

Only thing is, I don't have any dishes that are SV-able. Suggestions? Carrots, perhaps?

Edited by HowardLi (log)
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If you make and chill SV dishes in the bags the day ahead, you can safely reheat all of them at the same time using the lowest temp for all the bags. How many are you cooking for? I've found anything less than 40 to be pretty simple in an average home kitchen providing you're well prepared and experienced.

What would be the "lowest temp"?

Say you prepare 3 SV preparations at 120F, 130F & 160F. You can then chill all the preparations down for storage, and then reheat all of them in the same bath at 120F.

Only thing is, I don't have any dishes that are SV-able. Suggestions? Carrots, perhaps?

IMHO, if you're freaking out about prep, you should alter your menu so that you can pump out the maximum volume of food with the minimum amount of fuss, especially during the crucial last hour where all the a la minute stuff happens. If you replace the broccoli soup with glazed carrots, you can prep the entire dish in a SV bag and just cut open for service. You can retrograde the starch in mashed potatoes which gives you more leeway on the mash.

If you have a vacuum sealer large enough, you can even SV the rib roast at 130 for 48 hours, chill, bring it up to ~110 on the day of service and then throw it into a 500F oven for 30 minutes to color the outside. This would give you oven time to devote to other things and also not have to worry about timing a multi-hour roast with people arriving.

Honestly though, your menu looks simple enough that it shouldn't be too hard to bang out regardless. I was thinking more a ~6 - 10 course menu, each with multiple components which would involve several days of prep.

PS: I am a guy.

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