How to Avoid a Lukewarm Dinner

Ever wonder how you can avoid a lukewarm dinner? You’re not alone. The Never Cook Naked guys explain how to get everything to the dinner table while it’s still hot.

How to Avoid a Lukewarm Dinner

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: When I was growing up, my mom served lukewarm dinners. I was always irritated by this, but now I understand. It’s tricky to figure out how to keep several different things hot when you’re trying to serve a dinner with multiple components. What’s the best way to keep different dishes warm between cooking and serving?—Still In Therapy Over Other Things, Too

Dear Still in Therapy: Like your mother, your oven should not be taken for granted. You should give it a close look now and then. It has settings below 300°F (149°C). In fact, it probably goes down to 150°F (65°C) or 175°F (79°C). And for good reason. Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, or braised chicken will still be perfect an hour after they’re done so long as they’ve been kept covered and warm at a low holding temperature, in what used to be called a “slack” oven.

If you’re cooking a multi-course soirée and have only one oven, plan on a chilled component that can be made ahead and stashed in the fridge (say, a salad), a room-temperature course (say, roasted vegetables), a hot course (you pick), and so forth. This makes for less of a juggling act for you. And get this: a range of temperatures will also make the whole meal more interesting and satisfying than a singular palette of über-hot.

Finally, warm the dinner plates. [You could use this spiffy plate warmer.] You can braise some short ribs, set them aside, then bring them back to a quick simmer before spooning them onto plates kept toasty in said slack oven. Do this when you invite your mother over for a nice meal. And warn her that the plates are hot—unless you’re still working out more issues in therapy. Originally published May 14, 2013.

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