Holiday parties often call for feeding crowds at inconvenient times, usually wedged between hors d’oeuvres, conversations and opening presents. So we wanted an impressive main course that’s as good at room temperature as it is hot from the oven. A whole side of salmon proved an excellent choice. We found inspiration in an oven-poaching method we learned from French chef Michael Bras. He slow cooks smaller cuts of salmon in a 250ºF oven over a water-filled baking pan. To adapt the technique for a larger side of salmon, we ratcheted up the heat; surrounded the fish with carrots, celery, shallots and a bit of vermouth; and covered it all tightly with foil. This allowed the salmon to steam and be infused with flavor while cooking faster and staying tender.