The Amazing One-Hour Dinner Party

We cooked up a tasty spring menu for eight happy people—and included the tips and game plan to pull it all together in 60 minutes.

A Dinner Party, Ready in One-Hour

A Dinner Party, Ready in One-Hour

Before you decide that preparing an elegant three-course dinner, plus signature cocktail, from start to finish in 60 minutes is too good to be true, consider this: Many home cooks make an entire meal in that amount of time most weeknights, deftly and intuitively moving from side dish to entrée and back again, from oven to stovetop to salad spinner. I simply decided to extend those skills to the challenge of the classic dinner for eight.

This isn't to say that a lot of fiddling and retesting didn't go into this menu. It did. We tested the whole game plan three times, tweaking recipes and choreographing to make sure it all came in at less than an hour. I rearranged the order of tasks; I gussied up a few smart convenience products (bagged salad greens, precut potatoes, frozen lemonade); and I introduced bold flavors from pickled Vidalia onions, white truffle oil, and fresh tarragon. The hour zips by, but it's more fun than frantic. The payoff will make your guests linger with delight.

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