Party Recipes That Guests Rave About

Four people cook and tell. Here are their secrets to main-dish success.
Donna Florio

The holidays are a terrific time to dazzle family and friends. Whether you’re a fledgling or a pro in the kitchen, you need a main dish you can prepare with confidence. We assembled three fantastic entrées we think you’ll love. Then we recruited four home cooks to test them and give us their thoughts. The ingredients aren’t cheap, but they are worth the splurge.

How To Wow Recipes:

A Word From Our Testers:

Crown Pork Roast
Chogie Fields said it took some convincing to get her butcher to prepare the roast by trimming and tying it, so be sure to call in advance. Chogie: “I love the fact that you prep the roast, put it in the oven, and let it do its thing―I had time to do other things. Be sure to adjust the oven racks ahead of time, so you’ll have room for the roast. And you definitely need a meat thermometer for this recipe.”

Sticky Ducks With Cornbread Dressing
Brent Warren served these succulent, tender birds to his family to rave reviews. Brent: “I brushed on the molasses mixture every 30 minutes instead of every 15, and it still turned out beautifully. I’d like the stuffing to have a little more texture, though, so I might add cranberries and more celery the next time around.”

So-Easy Paella
Tara Stewart and Mark Hardee double-teamed this one; Tara shopped, and Mark cooked. Tara: “The hardest part was figuring out that saffron rice is just the yellow rice that I buy all the time!” Mark: “It’s a rather simple dish to make, though you have to watch it toward the end so it doesn’t dry out. It’s a great entertaining dish―makes plenty to feed at least six people, and it's a good conversation piece because it's something you don't serve every day.”