A Christmas Menu (Or, How to Give a Dinner Party in an Hour)

Have I got a present for you:  a holiday-worthy dinner made in about an hour.

So wrote Lucinda Scala Quinn in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Hello, I thought, for I was hosting eleven for Christmas dinner and needed something wonderful that wouldn’t require hours in the kitchen.  Well, let me tell you, this menu was amazing.  Everything she said was true, it was simple simple simple, and delicious delicious delicious.  There were no weird or strange ingredients to hunt down.  The tenderloin was a little pricey but what the hell, it’s Christmas, right?  The article was very clear about what could be made when, and the timing of when everything should go in the oven (which I love because my own nemesis is getting everything to be done and warm at the same time). I preheated the oven at 4:15.  We ate at 6:00.

I know we’re all suffering food hangover right now, but when you are done with your liver cleanse and are planning a party, do give this a try.  Lucinda, I love thee, thank you for a most wonderful present!!

Here’s how Christmas Day dinner went down at my house:

Mustard-rubbed beef tenderloin

Shingled roasted potatoes

Mushroom Wellington cups (recipe here)

Steamed green beans (with cranberries, which I left out)

I also omitted her creamy mustard sauce and her parsley-citrus salad because I didn’t think it would appeal to any of my guests.  My own addition was roasted fennel, beets and Jerusalem artichokes.

Order of operation:

1.  Christmas Eve, during the day, I roasted my vegetables.  The fennel and Jerusalem artichokes were tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted on their own tray for about 20 minutes at 425.  Beets were peeled, cut into wedges, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and sprigs of rosemary and oregano.  They were wrapped in a foil packet and stayed in the oven at 425 for close to 2 hours.  Then all went into the fridge.

2.  While the veggies were roasting I made the filling for the Mushroom Cups, and that went into the fridge as well.

3.  Christmas Day, around 3:00, I took the vegetables, the filling, 1/2 stick of butter, and the beef tenderloin out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

4.  At 4:15, preheat oven to 425.  Start with the potatoes:

Scrub as many russet potatoes as you need.  Peel one long side of each potato.  Thinly slice each crosswise, cutting only three-quarters of the way through, keeping the bottom (unpeeled) portion intact.  Brush the sliced sides with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  They go into the 425 oven for 30 minutes.

5.  After potatoes are in, line another baking sheet with parchment paper and prep the beef:

Trim away the fat (a mother is very good for this kind of thing, I don’t think she even had taken her coat off before I showed her the beef and handed her the knife).  If you have kitchen twine, tie the tenderloin at 2″ intervals (I didn’t have twine and it was fine).  Season all over well with kosher salt and ground pepper.

In a small bowl combine the 1/2 stick of softened butter with 2 tablespoons coarse mustard, and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.  Coat beef all over with mixture and place on baking sheet.

When timer goes off on the potatoes, slide the baking sheet with the beef into the oven.  Set timer for another 40 minutes, or if you have an oven probe, set it for 140 degrees.

6.  While beef and potatoes are in, assemble your mushroom cups and move all roasted vegetables into one baking dish and cover with foil.

7.  When beef is 140 degrees, remove it and potatoes from oven.  Cover separately with foil and allow to rest.  Lower oven to 375.  Put mushroom cups and vegetables in for 14-16 minutes.  Steam your green beans.  Set the table, clear away the appetizers, open the wine, make the kids get their drinks now, put on the music, light the candles.

8.  Drain beans and toss with a little butter.  Slice beef.  Lay everything out buffet style.

9.  Serve

10.  Die

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One comment on “A Christmas Menu (Or, How to Give a Dinner Party in an Hour)

  1. Francie says:

    your butcher didn’t trim and tie your tenderloin for you? Tsk, tsk, butcher-person.

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