All cooks need at least one recipe they can rely on for entertaining. They don’t have to be expensive or complicated; a well-seasoned meat loaf or perfectly roasted chicken are real crowd pleasers. Although the temptation to experiment with something new may be hard to resist, it can come back to haunt you. Stick with your winners.
Rosa di Parma is our culinary show-stopper. Italians save it for special occasions, but we think having friends around the dinner table is reason enough to make it. Rosa di Parma is basically a beef tenderloin that’s been butterflied, flattened and stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma and herbs. For company, we add baby spinach leaves. The assembling takes some time but can be done ahead. It’s a forgiving recipe; if the filling is fairly evenly distributed, the beef will arrive at the table looking fabulous, and every serving will have some of each ingredient.
Because parties have lives of their own, try to be as flexible as possible about the cooking. Either guests will be late or drinks will go on longer than expected, and you can’t very well ask people to chug-a-lug because the meat thermometer is approaching 140 degrees. Once the cooking is underway, Rosa di Parma takes less than 45 minutes on the stove plus a few minutes to sit. This means it can be timed to coincide with the party and allow you to get on with the rest of the menu. If the game plan is working, everything will come together like clockwork, and you can sit at the table and have a good time. Add a green salad and some mashed potatoes gussied up with sour cream or some roasted potatoes, and let the party begin.