There’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s no time like the holidays for home-cooked feasts. Thanksgiving is the province of roasted turkey, golden-brown stuffing, and fluffy mashed potatoes. Christmas can be a time for a well-cured ham or roast beef to take center stage, though some families are happy to give the Thanksgiving menu an encore performance under strands of colorful lights.
By the time New Year’s comes around, no one entertains a turkey tripleheader. Maybe you’re already thinking about that new gym membership, or you’ve already resolved to have peeled your last potato. Either way, you might find yourself opting for hors d’oeuvres on New Year’s Eve. But if you want to wrap up the year with a menu to remember, we have some ideas for putting together a full dinner on New Year’s Eve.
Main Course: Salmon Baked to Perfection
If you’ve already covered beef, ham, and poultry this holiday season, it’s time to check seafood off the list. Mussels, oysters, and scallops aren’t for everyone, but you can impress your guests by featuring Alaskan salmon.
Unlike poultry or pork, salmon isn’t a blank canvas for marinades and seasonings. An ideal salmon steak is assertively full-flavored and shouldn’t find itself competing with heavy spices or sauces. Season it simply—lemon juice, salt, and black pepper are all your salmon truly needs, though you can add a sprinkle of fresh dill and/or some capers if you desire. Bake them low and slow—between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re at the doneness that you like. Don’t feel as if living inland rules out great seafood well-packed frozen salmon is often superior to fresh.
Your #1 Side: Shrimp de Jonghe
Chicago, that great mid-American metropolis, has always been a hub for culinary innovation. You know all about hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, and Italian beef, but that’s just the menu at the neighborhood joint. Bring the grand old hotels of Michigan Avenue to your table with a serving of Shrimp de Jonghe, a deluxe dish of baked shrimp with garlic, breadcrumbs, and a generous punch of cooking sherry. It’s an estimable side dish that’s almost a main course unto itself. It can even fit among other New Year’s Eve hors d’oeuvres if you opt for small bites after all.
A Select Starch: Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
New Year’s has always had a note of sophistication that cozy, homey Thanksgiving has never quite developed. Now’s not the time to ladle out heaping helpings of mashed potatoes. Try restaurant-quality roasted little potatoes instead. These aren’t about butter and sour cream but rather creating a rich caramelization on the earthy skins. Quarter your potatoes and lightly boil them in salted water for about 3-5 minutes. Drain them well before tossing them in olive oil with a generous amount of freshly chopped garlic and rosemary—the key to this recipe. Roast the potatoes in a 450-degree oven until they’re beautifully golden brown.
Veggies: An Asparagus and Pepper Medley
We all have to eat our vegetables, so why not make them delicious? Roasted asparagus and bell peppers perfectly complement the salmon and potatoes, rounding out a full yet easy dinner to make on New Year’s Eve. You can even use the same lemon juice and Italian seasoning you’re already using and bake the vegetables alongside your salmon. Together, they’re a meal worth sitting down for.