Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's on the Table this Holiday Season?

I’m pretty traditional when it comes to the holiday foods. For Thanksgiving I always do turkey, even though I’m not really a fan. One year, a good friend asked if we should do two chickens instead of a turkey. Um, no. Chicken is more towards the “everyday spirit” than the “holiday spirit”, even if there are two of them. Hubby has suggested duck but I’m not feeling that either. If I don’t do turkey, I’ll feel lost. So it’s going to be turkey again this year, only this time I’m doing the dry brine. No icky salmonella liquid to get rid of at the end of the day.

Christmas is still up in the air. I think we’re supposed to do brunch with friends. Last year I did a prime rib roast for the first time and it was spectacular. Turned out to be the easiest roast I’ve ever done, thanks to my trusty $6 thermometer. I recently did a roast beef using a top round roast, which was also fantastic and probably more appropriate given the state of the economy. Ham is always a crowd pleaser and it’s a no-brainer, but maybe this year I’ll go as far as curing my own ham using a recipe out of Charcuterie (see right side bar). Or I can just keep it simple and do a Cuban-style pork roast.

I'm not going to think about New Year yet. It's only the week after Christmas but still seems so far away.

What do you think I should make for Christmas? Any suggestions? Our Christmas is in your hands, Interwebs! Okay, not really. But I’d really love some suggestions.

In the meantime here are some holiday-appropriate recipes for you just in case you need some inspiration as well. Some are mine but I threw in a few from around the web that piqued my interest. I'll probably update the list as I find interesting recipes.

Perfect Prime Rib Roast Impress your guest with this deceptively easy roast. If I do it again, I'm going to try Citymama's suggestion of coating with brown sugar, Hawaiian salt and garlic.

Picnic Pork Roast A delicious alternative to the beef roast.

Ham with Thai Tea, Cardamom, and Clove Sauce May sound weird, but tastes great. This post has details on how to make a proper pan sauce for ham.

Salt Rub and Butter Turkey from Wandering Chopsticks I'm doing the dry brining this year!

Duck Adobo Confit from Burnt Lumpia Love confit. I'm considering it for Christmas dinner since it might just be me and the boys.

Homemade Bratwurst and Red Cabbage from We Are Never Full This dish reminds me of the Danish Julefrokost, which is a meatfest Christmas brunch (eaten throughout month) accompanied by a lot of drinking. Think smorgasbord with hard liquor.

Appetizers and Accompaniments:

Tasty tomato jam Wonderful accompaniment to strong cheese

Danish-style pate Eaten all year round, but made extra special by serving with crispy bacon and sauteed mushrooms. No Julefrokost is complete without it. Invite your cardiologist friend, just in case.

Danish meatballs Another staple of the Danish Julefrokost. Delicious with red cabbage and/or pickled beets.

Hummus What kind of gathering would it be without hummus? Use sun-dried tomatoes to make it extra festive.

Cranberry Chutney Nice alternative to regular cranberry sauce.

Danish curried pickled herring Definitely an acquired taste, but worth trying if you're adventurous. I normally only eat this during Christmas as part of my Danish Christmas brunch.

Gravlax from Citymama A must at any Julefrokost. I do it similar, but add a light layer of ground fennel before the dill (I also used dried dill).

Swedish Potato and Rutabaga Casserole from One Perfect Bite Rutabagas are an underrated vegetable. I love the taste and bet they are perfect in this casserole.

Brunede Kartofler (caramelized potatoes) also from One Perfect Bite How could I forget these? I ate these every Christmas when I lived in DK. Perfect accompaniment for roasted duck and easy to do!

Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls from Sass and Veracity I just made these (using canned pumpkin) and they were a hit! A nice, seasonal alternative to dinner rolls. Makes a big batch (I stopped at 16 rolls and froze the rest of the dough), but any leftovers can be used to make Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding!

Pumpkin Coconut Crème Brulee Elegant alternative to pumpkin pie.

Thai tea Crème Brulee What can I say, I love creme brulee, and this is my favorite so far.

White Chocolate and Star Anise Crème Brulee from Culinary Delights I'm planning on trying this for Christmas. Don't see how it could go wrong.

Kugelhof from All-Purpose Girl This reminds me of something I ate in Denmark. May be a good alternative if you're not a fruit cake fan.

Fruit Cake from Burnt Lumpia The fruit cake loves fruit cake. I'm talking about myself, of course. But only if it's good. And this looks good. How can it not be? It's spritzed every other day with brandy for 2 weeks! Imagine the moist, alcoholic goodness.

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies from No Special Effects Come on, don't gingerbread people just scream Christmas? And the kiddies can have fun decorating them.

So what's on your table this holiday season?


Manggy said...

Ah! It's still a little early for Christmas dinner planning here, but you can bet there'll be at least one ham on the table! It's just not Christmas here without it! ;)

dp said...

Ham is always a good choice. The only issue I have is that some hams are so salty. That's why I'm thinking of doing it myself. We'll see. I'm also leaning towards the duck confit, but we'll see.

bb said...

I was going to say standing rib roast, aka prime rib, but you've got it covered. I did a fresh ham leg a couple of years ago that was amazing. One of those "low and slow" things that allow you to get everything else ready with a little less stress. Also impressive in a pork-a-licious sort of way and also very attractive is a crown roast of pork. As easy as a prime rib, only, um, porky. Whatever you do, I'm sure it'll be great!
BTW- ever done your turkey on the weber grill? Maybe that extra smokiness will get you into it more. Also good to slide some prosciutto di parma slices between the skin and breast. Very wow!

Dee said...

bb, Porky goodness is welcome around here. Maybe I'll try to find a fresh ham. Sounds so much easier than doing it myself. If I cure a ham I want to smoke it too. No problem if it's just cold, but if it's raining, I don't even know if that's going to work since my smoker is coal. I thought of smoking a turkey too, as I found an excellent brine recipe that calls for smoking. But again, the weather issue. Gaaah!

Just Cook It said...

It HAS to be a rib roast for Christmas day, I;m definitely with you on this one

Sarah said...

What about a beef tenderloin? Pricey, but it *is* Christmas. Proteins aside, in my house, Christmas is not Christmas without creamed jalapeno spinach and cranberry-raspberry tart. The spinach dish may sound a tad odd, but believe me, it's fabulous. It's a Laurie Colwin recipe that the late, great author described as "so good you'll sit up and beg." Ms. Colwin was right; it *is* so good you'll sit up and beg!

Dee said...

Sarah, beef tenderloin is also an option! As for being pricey, it's Christmas! I'm not particularly religious in the Christian sense, but it's still a special time of year. I saw an espresso-coated tenderloin recipe that piqued my interest. I'll have to see if I can find it again.

The spinach sounds awesome. We love creamed spinach, but with a little kick sounds even better.

Alex, the rib roast I made last year was awesome and Hubby would love it again. He also wants duck. Do you guys do a big dinner on the 24th? That's when they do it in DK. So maybe the duck confit on the 24th and rib roast on the 25th? Or is that overkill?

Dee said...

Sarah, do you have the recipe for the creamed jalapeno-spinach?

Paula said...

Oh lordy, all of your options sound terrific. I'd love to hear more about that Cuban Pork ... YUM! I'm Italian, so there's usually ravioli or something like it thrown in with more traditional fare ... yeah, we all waddle away from the table and fall into food induced coma's afterward. Looking forward to learning what you decide!

Dee said...

Paula, the Cuban pork would be the picnic roast done with Cuban spices. Cooking method (slow and low)would be the same.

I also picked up a bone-in pork loin roast that I was planning to experiment with. I was going to do it Danish-style, which is to say salt and pepper. But it has the fat layer on top, which I was super excited about. That hard to find these days!

I love hearing how people's background come through to the dinner table. Generally the Thai-inspired stuff happens the day after with the leftovers. We traditionally make Pad Thai and turkey laap with sticky rice with the left over turkey from Thanksgiving :-)

Sarah said...

Darlene, your post inspired me to go ahead and make jalapeno creamed spinach today! I just published my post about it and you can find the recipe at Fritter. Enjoy :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Darlene, if you do try the duck confit, I do encourage you to read the original recipe from Ruhlman's book too, though I'm sure you already have:)

And if you make the fruitcake now, it will definitely be ready by Christmas--a month is all it needs.