Keeping Food Safe
For Late Dinner Guests

reheating food  

One challenge people have during the holiday season is what to do when guests are late for dinner. Food must be handled "just right" to remain safe.

Refrigerated cold foods do not create the same holding and safety problems that hot foods do. Just keep them cold.

Don't let cooked foods such as poultry, meats, egg dishes or casseroles remain in the "danger zone"—between 40 and 140 degrees F-for more than two hours. Otherwise, you run the risk of food-borne illness. Proper handling of hot perishable foods eliminates this problem.

If guests will be only a little late, then keep hot foods hot in the oven. Set the oven to 200 degrees F and check the temperature of the food periodically so that it does not go below 140 degrees F.

But if the delay will be several hours, it is safer to refrigerate the food and reheat it when the guests arrive. Place food in shallow containers so it will cool rapidly in the refrigerator. When guests arrive, reheat food in a 325 degrees F oven to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, or until steaming hot.

If you have a turkey, and guests will arrive several hours late, remove the bird from the oven, allow it to stand for 20 minutes, and if stuffed, remove the stuffing, place it in a shallow container, cover and refrigerate. Remove the legs, thighs, and wings. Carve the breast meat, store in shallow containers and refrigerate for rapid cooling.

Southern Supper Green Beans
green beans

Portion: 4 oz.
Serves 10

  • Italian Flat Green Beans—2 lbs. 4 oz.
  • Cooking oil, hot—2 Tbsp.
  • Garlic, minced—1 Tbsp.
  • Lemon zest—2 tspn.
  • Black pepper, ground—1 tspn.


Measure and reserve Italian Flat Green Beans.

Sauté garlic in hot oil in large heavy pot or brazier.

Add reserved Italian Flat Green Beans with lemon zest and black pepper. Stir gently and simmer over low heat until completely heated.

Please drain Italian Flat Green Beans before measuring.

Pecan Praline Yams

Portion: 4 ounces
Serves 20

  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes—5 lbs.
  • Butter, softened—1 cup
  • Sugar—1 cup
  • Eggs, beaten—4 eggs
  • Vanilla—2 tsp.
  • Milk—2/3 cup
  • Heavy cream—1-1/2 cups
  • Light brown sugar—1-1/2 cups
  • Light corn syrup—1-1/2 cups
  • Butter melted—1 cup
  • Pecan halves—3 cups

Combine Mashed Sweet Potatoes with next five ingredients. Mix well. Transfer to oiled or nonstick-sprayed 12"x 2-1/2"x 20" insert pans.

Heat cream to a simmer.

Add brown sugar and corn syrup to cream. Heat mixture to a boil. Boil until mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Remove from heat.

Add melted butter and pecans to syrup. Pour syrup over reserved Mashed Sweet Potatoes mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F (conventional oven) for 20 minutes.


Text provided by USDA Meat and Poultry
Recipes provided by Allen Canning Company

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified September 2007

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