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Christmas entree for NOT a crowd

Looking for ideas for dinner for 4 people that won't leave a ton of leftovers...TIA!

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  1. How about a nice eye-round roast of beef. The Texas Beef Council has a great recipe for what they call 500 degree roast. You blast it at 500, then turn the oven off and invoke the Kitchen Gods and Goddesses. A couple of hours later its perfectly done. Only down side - no opening the oven for any other reason.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ariadanz

      I will have to look into that one. Thanks!

      1. re: Ariadanz

        This time of year, all the supermarkets in New Jersey sell Prime Rib Roast for $4.99/lb. You can purchase Boneless, as small as 2-Bones, or any increment through 7 Bones.

        Eye Round is $3.99

        Go for the Prime Rib and stick with Tradition.

      2. Prime rib roast
        Short ribs
        Cracked Crab (1 ea)
        Pork tenderloin
        Lobster (if you have the budget)
        Beef Bourguignon/noodles

        So many...could you narrow it to beef, seafood, etc?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Gail

          Thinking beef or pork but so many of them seem to be ginormous cuts (crown roast etc.)

          1. re: Bliss149

            Many pork tenderloins weigh 2 pounds or less.

            1. re: Wtg2Retire

              Just showed mom a blog with a beautiful pork roast which she said doesn't look "Christmas-y" <eye roll>

              Yeah, pork tenderloin would definitely be small enough. TY!

              1. re: Bliss149

                Yes, a sister-in-law made a wonderful cranberry pork tenderloin one year and before it was even served there was a whispering campaign for a "real" Christmas dinner later. With our menfolk, if it's not roast beast with horseradish it's not Christmas.

                1. re: Jeri L

                  Some people are such sticklers for tradition.

                  But I bet none of the menfolk actually MADE that "real Christmas dinner."

                    1. re: fourunder

                      No kidding! Well, good for them. In my family it all falls on the women. Always.

            1. re: Tara57

              OP, why not just roast a chicken? Should please the picky eaters, if done nicely it will be "festive," and shouldn't leave too much leftover (and whatever is left will be versatile).

              1. re: Tara57

                Cornish game hens...this was my first thought.

                1. re: Tara57

                  Cornish game hens are wonderful, but shouldn't be served to company that are not close friends or relatives. They are just too darned hard to eat (manage). A new friend served them whole to us and we had to deal with them at a table of linens, china, silver. They were definitely trying to impress. The dinner and wine etc were lovely, but the hens really hard to handle under the above circumstances.
                  I'd like them for a picnic...

                2. I really like the crab idea. And that goes great with champagne. That says holidays to me!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: perk

                    Yeah it sounds great to me too but I'm dealing with a couple of traditionalists...kind of like the "picky friends" post unfortunately.

                  2. Beef or lamb shanks and mashed potatoes or polenta with veggies?

                    I love a ton of leftover, that said.

                    1. We are doing beer cooler sousvide steaks finished with a quick sear in a blazing pan. Mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Just the 2 of us and our toddler this year, so going simples. With bubbly for the grown ups

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Bliss149


                          I'm so excited to not be running around like CRAZY this Christmas. Just the 3 of us relaxing at home. With Christmas cookies for desert.

                      1. When it was just the 4 of us for Christmas, growing up, my mom did a roast duck. It always seemed the perfect amount.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: centralpadiner

                          Yes, a duck keeps the traditionalists (turkey, goose) at least somewhat happy, and means others don't have to eat bland roast turkey. I've done that more than once. Careful about the cooking times - quite different from chicken.

                          1. What about individual Beef Wellingtons?

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: juliejulez

                              Ooooh! that might be perfect!

                              Have you made it before?

                              1. re: Bliss149

                                You know, I haven't, but I've been eyeing the recipe in a cookbook of mine, I just haven't had the occasion for it yet. This recipe looks delicious: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Love that one! We are not fois gras and truffle type people so. I think this may be THE ONE. Thank you Juliejulez.

                                  2. re: Bliss149

                                    I was going to suggest these too! Easy, elegant, and zero leftovers.

                                    1. re: Bliss149

                                      Time was when Beef Wellington was my signature dish. I don't recommend individual Wellingtons simply because they can dry out, but mostly because a whole Wellington is so much more elegant. Why not be festive? I had decided to do a Wellington this year when the family comes, but my 10 year old grandson has his heart set on turkey. Thank god I didn't do one at Thanksgiving! Anyway, here is how I do a beef Wellington. You will need:

                                      a couple of packages of frozen puff pastry. Yes, you usually make things from scratch for the holidays, but puff pastry is a big deal, Why kill yourself?

                                      Several slices of very thin, very dry prosciutto or similar ham such as Ibirico or Serrano. You will need enough to cover the puff pastry to act as a moisture barrier while baking to prevent the puff pastry from getting soggy.

                                      Duxelle. A pound or so of button mushrooms chopped or you can even pulse them in a food processor. Then fine dice about half an onion or two or three shallots, melt some butter in a skillet over low flame, then add the onions/shallots and cook until transparent. Add the mushrooms and slow cook them until they reduce to a paste adding a glug of dry vermouth or brandy as the mixture reduces an dries. Towards the end, when they are almost "dry," I add black truffle salt to ujnderscore the mushroom flavor and add some elegance.

                                      OPTIONAL: Pate foie gras and/or two or three black truffles or both.If you are going to use truffles, omit the truffle salt in the duxelle, but do season with regular salt.

                                      A whole beef tenderloin. Turn/tuck the end to make the tendeerloin the same thickness from head to toe. There are two possibilities to achieve the perfect medium rare doneness that is the standard for serving. One way is to cook your tenderloin sous vide so it will be medium rare evenly all the way througn, then sear the outside before assembling and baking. The other is to sear the tenderloin exterior and complete cooking while baking the exterior at a bit lower temperature than usual so the puff pastry won't overbrown. So now to

                                      ASSEMBLY: Lay out the puff pastry sheets in a size and shape large enough to wrap the entire tenderloin and close the pastry firmly. If the puff pastry is perforated for easy tear, pinch those seams together, as well as any seams where you have to join two sheets of puff pastry together. Cover the puff pastry with the ham. The goal is a smooth even layer that will act as a moisture barrier but not so much ham that it will be a strong flavor presence.

                                      Spread the duxelle evenly over the ham in an area just large enough to cover the tenderloin when it is put in place.

                                      OPTIONAL If your inclinations and budget allow for an over the top dish, this is the time to cover the duxelle with a layer of pate foie gras, or you can simply slice a whole foie gras mediu thin and cover the duxelle with it. And for really fantastic flavor, not to mention over-the-topness, this is the point to slice the truffles, then pave the foie gras with them so that you have five layers: Puff pastry, ham, duxelle, foie gras, and truffle.

                                      Now season the tenderloin lightly with salt (you can always add more later but there is no way you can take it out) then gently place the room temperature seared tenderloin on the "mattress" and gently fold it up and around the tenderloin, then pinch that seam closed. Fold, trim as neccessary, and pinch seal the ends

                                      Carefully transfer the package to a cookie tray or jelly roll pan seam side down. Brush the "package" with some well beaten thinned egg yolk (a touch of water). You should have some left over puff pastry. Cut it in shapes of your choice to decorate the puff pastry casing. For Christmas I often did this:

                                      After painting the puff pastry case with egg yolk, lightly score it with the tines of a fork in any pattern you like, just make sure it is all superficial and does not pierce the puff pastry casing. Then cut "ribbons" of puff pastry and lay them on the casing package like ribbons wrapping a Christmas present. Make a bow out of more puff pastry and put it in place. Then cut some holly leaves -- two or more -- and place them around the bow, make a few holly berries of puff pastry, then again coat it all with the egg yolk wash.

                                      Now you're ready to pop it in the oven. I can't tell you how long to roast it simply because I don't know the weight that your beef tenderloin will be, but there are tons of charts on the web for roasting temperature and time. I suggest a steady temperature all the way through cooking simply because it is a lot less likely to over-brown the puff pastry. I use an instant read thermometer to pierce into the center of the beef to check for doneness. I do that at an inconspicuous place near one end or the other and toward the top because some juice is inevitable, but the less the better.

                                      Be sure to allow about 20 minutes rest time before carving. I slice mine at table in about 1 1/2 inch cuts. I also make a Sauce Perigeaux to serve with it, and there are recipes on line or that, but any good sauce will work.

                                      And if any guest doesn't drown you in praise, never invite them back because their taste buds are dead and buried a long time ago! '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Great information. Thank you so much!

                                    2. re: juliejulez

                                      I've made these chicken and mushroom wellingtons before and they are appropriately festive and really delicious.


                                    3. Cornish game hens, long grain/wild rice "stuffing" with onions, celery and cranberries, mashed celeriac (celery root) or potato/celeriac combo, wild mushroom sauce/gravy and a green veggie like snap peas or green beans.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          LOL! And don't forget to set a place for Scrooge! '-)

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            I guess my humor is so dry it eludes even me.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              If you were serious and I stepped on your Christmas dinner, I sincerely apologize! It's just that for me, chicken or turkey or goose or rabbit pot pie is for the day AFTER Christmas! '-)

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                No harm, no foul!

                                                Happy holidays, Caroline.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  And a big warm holiday hug to you out there in the snowless city of my birth! '-)

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                a good chicken pot pie is one of my favorite dishes...much better in my opinion than some of the more complicated or more expensive alternatives. But then I don't eat beef more than once every five years.........

                                          2. Fish en papillote is easy and chic, i've used everything from salmon to scallops or snapper, and the veg is easily swapped for another


                                            1. I'm making a goose for 5 people

                                                1. Same here have decided on
                                                  nice salad to start
                                                  hashed brussels sprouts with lemon zest (NYT)
                                                  potatoes lyonnaise (ATK)
                                                  pepper-crusted filet mignon with port-cherry reduction (ATK)
                                                  Tiramisu cake (from local bakery)

                                                  1. A couple of Ducks or a Goose would do the trick and are both Holiday Staples. Lamb Racks would work well also.

                                                    1. You could make some ossobucco, just buy four veal shanks and braise them in beef stock, white wine, tomatoes, and vegetables

                                                      1. Butterfly one boneless turkey breast half, fill with bread based stuffing, truss and roast at 400 for about 1.5 hours. It will leave you with just enough leftovers for sandwiches the next day.

                                                        1. Individual beef Wellingtons?