A Big Dinner Doesn't Need to be a Big Deal

Don’t you hate it when you go to someone’s home for a holiday supper and they greet you in a spotless house, fresh as a daisy, then proceed to dole out a gourmet feast as if fairies snuck in and did all the cooking? Well, it’s entirely possible that either fairies or the nearest gourmet take-out joint did the work; after all, everyone gets frazzled when it comes to special-occasion cooking. But have no fear, holiday cooking can be cheap and easy.

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First and foremost, do as much work as you can in advance. That’s right—you can do 90 percent of the cooking ahead of time, clean the kitchen, take a long bubble bath, and then come back to the kitchen fresh and ready. Your guests may wonder if you had fairies helping, too.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Trim off the brown ends and any funky outer leaves, then toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Lay out on a baking pan and roast at 375 degrees until they start to look brown—this’ll take at least a half-hour, maybe 40 minutes. Do this ahead of time, and reheat when you want to serve them.

Jewish-y Brisket
Instead of agonizing over cooking and resting time for a precious prime rib, and taking five Xanax before you finally decide to slice it, cook a brisket. Not only is it OK to cook it the day ahead, it’s way better that way.

Two days ahead, buy one brisket, which should feed up to 15 people. Have your butcher trim off extra fat. Make a mix of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, minced garlic, and paprika, and rub it all over the brisket. Leave in the fridge overnight. The next morning, put the brisket in a deep baking pan and cover with a half bottle of red wine. Preheat your oven to 325, then cover the brisket with foil and bake for three hours. Take it out, throw in two handfuls each of peeled, cut-up carrots and onions, and quartered tomatoes. Put it back in the oven for another 2 1/2 hours. You’ll know the brisket is done when it gives way easily to the touch. If it springs back, put it in for another hour and add some water to the pan if the bottom is dry. Take the brisket out of the pan, let it cool, then refrigerate overnight. Take out the pan veggies, puree them with the delicious drippings, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and you have an instant killer sauce. The next day, slice your brisket while it’s cold, put it back in the pan, and cover with sauce. Heat it for about 30 minutes at 350 before you serve.

The Easiest Roasted Sweet Potatoes 
The morning of your party, wash and scrub one sweet potato for every guest you have, plus a few extra. Wrap each sweet potato in foil. An hour before your guests arrive, throw the sweet potatoes in the oven at 300 and an hour or so later, you’ll have hot and steamy sweet potatoes. Poke them to make sure they’re tender, then serve right in the foil; let your guests butter and season to their liking.

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Add to this feast a big bowl of your favorite green salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a basket of fresh crusty bread, a few bottles of wine, and you’re golden. Now invite us over!

Written by: Chef Rossi

Food styling by: Lauren Lapenna

This piece originally appeared in the December/January 2015 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

Photographed by: Vanessa Rees

 

This story originally appeared in BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!