The Holiday Dinner Table
Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Inspired by J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and managing culinary director of Serious Eats, we take a 3-step, 5-ingredient approach to the best holiday roast: First, season, chill, and air-dry the beef overnight to create a flavorful crust; second, slow roast in a low oven to keep it extra juicy; and third, broil a few minutes to brown it. Serve with Board Dressing, Classic Horseradish Cream Sauce, or both.
"Ham" for Two
Holiday ham leftovers take weeks to finish. Instead, prepare a basic one pound pork tenderloin just as you would prepare a ham. The result is a traditionally brined, brown-sugar-coated "ham" for two in just one day. It even comes out pink! This recipe uses pink brining salt from Williams Sonoma, but you could use Prague #1 instead.
Herb-Crusted Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with Red Wine Jus
Have your butcher cut the ribs from the roast and tie them back on. Use muffin tins if you don't have popover pans. Preheating the pans makes the popover batter start cooking and fluffing the second you pour it in.
Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Tossing the endive leaves in the vinaigrette first softens their bitter edge. You could also sub thinly sliced fennel or chopped Romaine hearts.
This rich gratin uses a combination of milk and half-and-half instead of the traditional heavy cream to slash saturated fat. We find the texture of Kerrygold reduced-fat cheese more like full-fat cheese than other brands.
Duck à l'Orange
Duck breast is best when cooked to medium-rare or medium--it develops livery flavor when cooked longer.
Roasted Balsamic Radicchio with Pancetta and Walnuts
Radicchio--that bitter, crunchy, scarlet and white vegetable Italians adore, becomes entirely different when roasted. Its color deepens and the flavor turns mellow and nutty, with just a hint of bitterness remaining. Serve it alongside roast pork, chicken, or beef. Or, to turn it into a main course, chop and toss with hot cooked pasta.
Creamiest Mashed Potatoes
For extremely creamy and decadent mashed potatoes, look for xanthan gum with the gluten-free baking mixes and flours; it's available in most supermarkets these days. You can get semiclose results with cornstarch, but the spuds won't be quite as creamy.
Smoky Glazed Ham with Red Pepper Jelly
Chef Jonathon Sawyer's secret to a successful holiday feast is doing most of his preparation ahead of time, for what he calls "easy game-day execution." He makes the sauce that becomes a sweet-sticky glaze and the spicy pepper jelly a few days in advance; then, on Christmas day, all he has to do is bake the ham.
Spinach and Mushroom Strata
This cheesy, meatless casserole is best served straight out of the oven, golden and bubbly.
Mini Cheese Balls
Almond milk cream cheese is delicately nutty, with a buttery-rich texture and zero grams of sat fat. Find it at Whole Foods stores nationwide. You can substitute 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, which adds 1.6g sat fat to each serving.
Cranberry-Goat Cheese White Bean and Kale Salad
Great as a side salad for a variety of main dishes, this hearty kale and goat cheese salad features the sweetness of cranberries which lends it a festive flavor.
Honey-Roasted Butternut Squash
This side is simple and fabulous. The cooking is mostly hands-off, and the prep is easy. Serve the tender butternut squash in large pieces to catch every last bit of the honey butter drizzle.
French Onion Turkey Breast
Caramelized onions become the base for a gravy that tastes like the best French onion soup ever. The bone keeps the breast meat moist. If you leave the skin on, it adds 20 calories and 1g sat fat per serving.
Honey Mead-Brined Canada Goose with Cabbage, Currants, and Brûléed Pears
An elegant dinner of mead-brined goose breast with cabbage and brûléed pears is guaranteed to impress holiday guests.
Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
The only thing better than sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is when they're served together and caramelized to perfection. The perfect holiday side!
Slow-roasted Patuxent Mallard
Impress your guests with a beautifully-presented, slow-roasted Patuxent Mallard for an elegant dinner this holiday season.
A warm vinaigrette will soften these sturdy greens, but their structure will hold up for up to an hour or two on a holiday buffet. Prep all the ingredients ahead of time, and store in individual zip-top plastic freezer bags in your refrigerator until ready to toss with warm vinaigrette. We love Chiogia beets, with their candy-striped interiors, for this recipe.
Veal Chops Milanese with Lemon and Herbs
Serve veal chops as an impressive holiday main dish. Ask your butcher to "french" the chops for you so you take home clean meat that's ready to prep.
Fontina-Chive Yorkshire Puddings
Don't skip the first step: For the fluffiest, puffiest puddings, make sure the muffin pan is super hot. You can also make these in popover pans.
Green Beans with Chanterelles and Cipollini
Chanterelle mushrooms and cipollini onions are worth the splurge, but you can substitute halved cremini mushrooms and frozen pearl onions and the results will still be very tasty.
Classic Roasted Duck with Orange-Bourbon-Molasses Glaze
The secret to crispy skin is a dry duck. Pat ducks with a paper towel before, during, and after refrigerating. Store uncovered in the back, coldest part of your fridge for up to two days ahead.
Dirty Rice Risotto
Adding hot broth slowly to the mixture helps release the starch from the rice, giving the risotto its characteristic creamy texture.
Grilled Cornish Hens with Herb Brine
If you don't own kitchen shears, that's ok--a pair of heavy-duty scissors will work just as well to prep these cornish hens.
Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cream
For the most tender Brussels sprouts, look in your produce section for sprouts sold on the stalk. Then cut off the sprouts, and store in a zip-top plastic freezer bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Spice-Rubbed Tenderloin with Mustard-Cream Sauce
Since beef tenderloin doesn't have much fat, it can easily become dry and overcooked. For tender slices, don't cook past a meat thermometer registering 130° in the center.
Broccolini with Pecans and Cane Syrup Vinaigrette
Easy, in-a-pinch substitutions: Use molasses for cane syrup and broccoli florets in place of fresh Broccolini. Pomegranate seeds add a festive touch.
Cheese Grit-and-Chive Muffins
These little muffins are a hearty substitute for the standard dinner roll, and they also bring a bit of Southern flair to the table.