Every New Years Eve my wife & I host a dinner party for several of our friends.  It’s a tradition that started almost a decade ago, as we began to find restaurants and bars too crowded, with the food sub-par and drinks hard to get.

Sense that first party, I’ve learned a lot about making the night easy on the cook, but still really special for the guests.  The key is picking the right menu, and getting as much work done ahead of time as you can.  That keeps the real time cooking to a minimum and allows you plenty of time with your guests.

Here, I’ve designed a three course menu, with two choices for each course, that are simple enough to keep you out of the kitchen, but special enough for New Years Eve.  For each option, I’ve given a few tips on what parts to do when.  Enjoy! 

Salad Course Options

Zucchini Carpaccio or Jicama & Apple Salad

  • Neither of these salads have cooked ingredients (except for some toasted nuts, which you can do hours ahead of time), and can be assembled right before you guests arrive.  
  • I suggest you cut up all the ingredients in the afternoon, and then keep them separated in the fridge.
  • Make the dressing for the Jicama salad during the day too, and keep that in the fridge
  • You can plate up the salads, but don’t dress them, right before your guests arrive, and then when it’s time to serve dress them

Soup Course Options

Potato Leek or Celery Soup

  • I always serve a soup course at a New Years Eve dinner, as they can typically be made the day (or sooner) before.
  • Both of these soups will hold up very well overnight in the fridge
  • So, in the afternoon, prep the garnish for the soups, and keep them in the fridge
  • Then when you’re guests around, find 5 minutes to take the soup from the fridge and put in a pot over medium to low heat
  • By the time you’re ready for the soup course, all you need to do is pour, garnish and serve

Main Course Options

Filet Mignon With Tarragon Butter or Sesame Crusted Halibut with Mango Salsa

  • Both the filet and the Halibut will only take about 10 minutes to cook, so the key is to get everything that goes with the steak and fish done ahead of time
  • The Tarragon butter for the steak can be done the day before, or the morning of, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready for it
  • For the Halbut, the mango salsa can be made the morning of, and keep in the fridge. When your guests arrive, take it out so it comes to room temp by the time you’re ready to serve
  • You can crust the fish with the black sesame seeds before you guests around, and put the crusted filet’s back in the fridge, before taking them out when your guests arrive
  • If you want additional sides, both mashed potatoes and blanched green vegetables, like these asparagus, are both great to prepare before your guests arrive, and can be reheated at the last minute.