An Under-$60 Holiday Dinner for 6

December 17, 2017

During the holidays, we like to pull out all the stops and cook up the flashiest, most indulgent (and delicious!) main courses. We've partnered with Beef. It's What's For Dinner to share some of our favorite ways to beef up our holiday dinners—and turned to one our favorite meat experts, Molly Stevens, for her tips on how to achieve meat perfection.

We all like to go big at the holidays, even if we’re working on a smaller budget. An elegant roast beef dinner doesn't have to break the bank, and it definitely doesn't have to leave you toiling in the kitchen all day. Here's a sophisticated menu that pairs a beefy top sirloin roast with make-ahead mashed potatoes, a uniquely delicious roasted winter vegetable salad, and homey pear crisp that leaves you relaxed enough to have fun at your own party—and you wouldn't believe you can make all this for $60! All it takes is a little planning and time (and oven) management.

Two days before the party: Make your lists and go shopping

Top sirloin roast delivers good robust flavor and remains tender and juicy—and costs significantly less than the more prestigious roasts from the rib and short loin. Depending on where you shop, you may want to call ahead to special order, because some markets cut all the sirloin into steaks, so you need to specify that you're looking for a nice plump roast. The nomenclature of the sirloin can get complicated, too, and other names for this great little roast are top butt, sirloin butt and center-cut sirloin.

The day before your party: Season the meat and make the potatoes

The day before your party, unwrap your meat and season it before putting it in the refrigerator—a key step to enhance both its flavor and tenderness. This is also the time to whip up the Party Potatoes and tuck them away in the fridge.

On the eve of your party: Get the house ready and do a little prep

Allow yourself about an hour to make the creamy mustard sauce to accompany the beef, soak the dried cherries for dessert, and set your table. If you're planning on having flowers on the table, pick them up at the flower shop now, but move them to a cool spot so they stay fresh until the party.

Putting it all together

This menu is designed to come together with no last-minute frenzy and without trashing your kitchen—even if you only have one oven. The key is to stagger the recipes according to cooking times, oven temperatures, and serving temperatures. You'll want to start about 4 hours before dinner by making the fruit crisp, then prepare the salad while the crisp is baking. Once the salad goes into the oven, you're on to the beef and potatoes. You get the idea. And since any good roast needs to rest before being carved, use this little pause to open the wine and summon your guests to the table.

Here's a timeline to get dinner on the table at 7:30 pm:

  • 3:30 pm Assemble the crisp and bake at 375°F (350°F convection)
  • 4:00 pm Prep the salad as the crisp bakes
  • 4:15 pm Leave the baked crisp at room temperature, and turn oven up to 400°F (375°F convection)
  • 4:30 pm Roast the salad
  • 4:35 pm Remove the beef and potatoes from the refrigerator to sit at room temperature (though you can always put the meat in the oven directly from the fridge if you're short on time)
  • 5:00/5:15 pm Pile the roasted salad into serving dish, and set aside at room temperature
  • 5:00/5:15 pm Turn oven up to 450°F (425°F convection)
  • 5:20 pm Put the beef in a roasting pan and smear the surface with butter
  • 5:30 pm Put the beef in the oven
  • 5:45 pm Lower the oven to 275°F (250°F convection), add water to roasting pan, and slide the potatoes into the oven with the beef
  • 6:30 pm Start checking beef doneness: an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast should read 115°F for very rare, 120°F for rare, and 125°F for medium-rare
  • 6:40/6:55 pm Take the beef out of oven and place on a carving board to rest
  • 6:55 pm Transfer the pan juices to a small saucepan, skim surface fat as needed, and taste
  • 7:00 pm Raise oven temp to 350°F (325°F convection), leaving potatoes in, so their surface browns while the beef rests
  • 7:10 pm Dress the salad with fresh orange juice and good olive oil
  • 7:15 pm Open wine
  • 7:20 pm Warm pan juices
  • 7:25 pm Carve beef
  • 7:30 pm Serve beef, jus, mustard sauce, salad, and potatoes
  • 7:30 pm Turn oven off and let crisp sit in cooling oven during dinner to warm
  • 7:31 pm Relax and enjoy!

We've partnered with the Beef. It's What's For Dinner to share some of our favorite ways to beef up our holiday dinners.

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Molly Stevens lives, eats and writes in Northern Vermont. She is the author of two James Beard Award winning cookbooks, All About Roasting and All About Braising. When the spirit moves her, Molly travels around the country teaching cooking classes.