Make-Ahead Main Courses

Peppercorn Crusted Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream
Photo: Jennifer Chong

From Peppercorn Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream to Birria Tacos, here are some delicious make-ahead dishes to please any crowd.

01 of 15

Garlic-Butter Rib Roast

Garlic butter prime rib
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

This impressive, flavor-packed rib roast recipe from John Somerall is perfect for a celebration. The secret? A compound butter made with garlic, anchovies, herbs, and shallot. Half of it is slathered all over the roast before it goes into the oven; the other half is rolled up into a log, chilled, and then sliced into medallions to serve with each slice of beef. Special order the rib roast from a local butcher, asking for one with nice marbling and an even fat cap. The roast can be prepped the night before and stored in the fridge until ready to bake—just bring it to room temperature before roasting. Thinly sliced leftovers make satisfying roast beef sandwiches or sliders.

02 of 15

Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

FW Feb 2019 Vietnamese - Beef Stew
Greg DuPree

A baguette and bò kho are great meal partners, but you also can serve the stew over pasta — try it over boiled egg noodles or rice noodles (select pappardelle-size noodles, such as A Taste of Thai brand).

03 of 15

Philadelphia Roast Pork Sandwiches

Philadelphia Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches
Photo by Fred Hardy / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman

Marianne Williams's take on Philadelphia Roast Pork Sandwiches combines roasted pork with melty provolone cheese and broccoli rabe for a seriously satisfying bite. Its bitterness and brightness balances the fattiness of the pork, which is incredibly tender and buttery with a flavorful crust. Letting the pork sit at room temperature for an hour while the oven preheats helps ensure it cooks evenly. Roasting it initially at 450°F and then lowering the oven temperature crisps and renders the fat on top, and then slowly cooks the meat. The provolone brings sharpness and helps keep the bottom of the roll from getting too soggy, and the mayo — which has a punch of acidity from pickled pepperoncini and its brine — is the finishing touch.

04 of 15

Vegetable-and-Ravioli Lasagna

Vegetable-and-Ravioli Lasagna
Rick Poon

Fresh spinach ravioli are a clever shortcut for making lasagna: Each ravioli is already a mini layer of pasta, cheese and vegetable. This recipe is especially fast to make using pre-roasted or grilled vegetables from the deli counter.

05 of 15

Roast Chicken and Warm Escarole Caesar

Roast Chicken and Warm Escarole Caesar
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Hannah Greenwood

This roast chicken from the menu at Dusek's in Chicago is a sleeper hit, combining comforting roast chicken and the briny flavors of Caesar salad for a cozy meal. Marinating the chicken for at least 24 hours in a koji marinade makes it nice and juicy while infusing it with tons of flavor. The chicken emerges from the oven savory, sweet, a little smoky, and slightly spicy with a deep brown crust. It's the perfect match for the just-wilted escarole, which still retains some crunch and is slightly bitter. Tender roasted potatoes add some extra heft to the preparation, and a homemade Caesar dressing brings it all together. A recipe for garlic confit can be found here.

06 of 15

Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant

Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant
Quentin Bacon

Efisio Farris, the executive chef at Arcodoro in Houston, says that his mother used only eggplants from the first pick of the season (le primizie) for this dish because of their supple texture and earthy-sweet flavor without a hint of bitterness. But if you don't have the primizie option, you should seek out firm, heavy eggplants with smooth, evenly colored skin. Check for ripeness by pressing them lightly; if this leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ready to use.

07 of 15

Peppercorn Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream

Peppercorn Crusted Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream
Jennifer Chong

To make this tender beef roast, brothers Nakul and Arjun Mahendro—restaurateurs who, along with their parents, run Badmaash, a modern Indian concept with two locations in Los Angeles—start with a center-cut strip roast, which they spread with peppercorns, salt, mustard, and rosemary leaves. An overnight chill seasons and tenderizes the meat and also dries the outside of the roast nicely, helping to create a crispy crust after roasting. It's a perfect centerpiece for a Sunday dinner.

08 of 15

Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Bacon and Apple-Riesling Sauce

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Bacon and Apple-Riesling Sauce
Kirsten Strecker

Debra Whiting, the chef and co-owner of Red Newt Winery Bistro in New York's Finger Lakes, loves the fresh goat cheese from the local Lively Run Dairy so much that she always works it into her dinner menu. Here, she mixes the cheese with apple, sausage and greens, then stuffs it inside a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.

09 of 15

Birria Tacos

Birria Tacos Recipe
Greg Dupree

Claudette Zepeda combines two meats to create the best balance of tender texture (from the chuck roast) and succulence (from the short ribs). These birria tacos get slow-cooked flavor from the adobo sauce.

10 of 15

Woven Lasagna with Prosciutto and Fresh Spinach Sauce

Woven Lasagna with Prosciutto and Spinach Sauce Recipe
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Weaving the pasta sheets in this lasagna allows the outer pieces to bubble and crisp in the oven around the creamy, rustic prosciutto-ricotta filling. Don't skip the fresh pasta sheets; their length and texture are key to weaving together this show-stopping dish. The lasagna needs to be set up in the refrigerator for at least six hours and up to a day; the assembled lasagna may be frozen and thawed in the fridge before slicing and roasting. The spinach may be blanched in the pasta water and the spinach sauce may be made up to a day ahead. Once the lasagna has chilled, it takes mere minutes to heat and serve this stunning, cover-worthy recipe, making it ideal for a dinner party.

11 of 15

Teff Tagliatelle with Niter Kibbeh

Teff Tagliatelle with Niter Kibbeh
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

In traditional Ethiopian niter kebbeh (spiced clarified butter), whole spices, like nigella, coriander, and cardamom, are bloomed in clarified butter, or ghee, and then strained; here, chef Yohanis Gebreyesus leaves the toasted spices in to add texture to this simple but luxurious sauce for pasta made with earthy, fragrant teff. Don't skip on resting the dough—it prevents the pasta from cracking apart when rolling and boiling.

12 of 15

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
Courtesy of Tom Hopkins and The Family of Jacques Pépin

This is the quintessential recipe for beef stew with red wine. Jacques Pépin's mother served it at her restaurant, Le Pélican, where she made it with tougher cuts of meat. Jacques likes the flatiron — a long, narrow cut that's extremely lean but becomes tender and stays moist. He doesn't use stock, demi-glace, or even water in his stew, relying on robust red wine for the deep-flavored sauce.

13 of 15

Vegetarian 15-Bean Soup

Vegetarian 15 Bean Soup
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Ali Ramee

Can't make up your mind whether to make bean or lentil soup? Grab a bag of 15-bean soup from the dry goods aisle at the market and make this flavorful, hearty soup instead. Bean and lentil soups like this one are often cooked with a ham bone or a smoked ham hock, but there are other ways to add flavor to a pot of soup, especially when you want something vegetarian. Here, we add a few Parmesan cheese rinds, which add a surprising depth of flavor and umami when simmered with a pot of soup, stew, or even pasta sauce. If you aren't yet in the habit, when you are done with that wedge of Parmesan cheese, toss the rind in an airtight container and store in the freezer to be at the ready. Your soups and stews will thank you for the flavor boost. Serve this hearty soup with a loaf of warm crusty bread.

14 of 15

Herb Garden Matzo Ball Soup

Herb Garden Matzo Ball Soup
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Matzo ball soup gets a glow-up in this version by cookbook author Leah Koenig, with fresh parsley, dill, chives, and fennel fronds in the matzo balls themselves, plus more herbs, lemon zest, and edible flowers adding color and bright, spring flavors to each finished bowl of soup.

15 of 15

Umami-Mayo Roast Chicken

Umami-Mayo Roast Chicken
Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

The secret to this juicy roast chicken is umami mayo, a two-ingredient power-house combination of brewer's yeast and mayonnaise. Slathering the bird with a mayonnaise–brewer's yeast mixture before it goes into the oven yields maximal umami flavor. It also helps lock in its juiciness. Letting the chicken stand uncovered in the refrigerator overnight helps to dry out the skin for a crispier bird. The umami mayo is also awesome on a side of salmon. Seek out inactive brewer's yeast for this recipe, such as this version from Twinlab, which has a delicious, funky, umami flavor.

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