Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Festive Christmas Eve Dinner

I'm working in reverse order. Having planned our Christmas breakfast (crepes, grapefruit, fresh squeezed OJ, breakfast sausages, scrambled eggs with Gruy√®re) I'm now plotting dinner.  I don't know who started the rally  call for TWO MEATS! but I love it. Serving two meats is a festive approach to an intimate Christmas Eve dinner. But you can't stop there; the dinner should be a multi-coursed event. There has to be a fish course as well as a colorful salad - mixed greens with Gorgonzola, candied pecans and sliced pear or pomegranate seeds comes to mind - and homemade rolls. Christmas eve dinner is like Thanksgiving but more upscale.

First, plan your protein then decide on the salad and sides. I'm going to roast a beef tenderloin and serve it with two sauces - a Stilton and a fresh horseradish sauce. I picked up some horseradish root this morning in the pre-dawn (well, 9am) quiet at Whole Foods. Full disclosure: I couldn't find a prepared horseradish. For the second meat, I'm still deciding between Roasted Leg of Lamb with Yukon Gold Potatoes, a glazed spiral ham, and that garlic-rosemary Brined Pork Loin I liked so much. It'll probably be the spiral ham, as we had that brined pork a couple of weeks ago and the lamb would be too much red meat for one meal. Two meats is already over-the-top enough without going up and over again.

Next: something fishy. My dad is known to make Coquilles St. Jacques on Christmas Eve, something I've always enjoyed. I will probably serve Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce on mixed greens. Killing two birds with one stone - combining the fish and salad courses - is so in the spirit of Christmas whereas killing one bird with two stones is overkill, literally.

Sides. Simple Rosemary Roasted Yukon Gold potatoes are a favorite of mine. Just clean 5-10 potatoes (quarter the larger ones), toss with a bit of olive oil, some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, several (as in 7-10) unpeeled garlic cloves and a 3-5 springs of fresh rosemary. Roast in a hot oven - like 425, or whatever temp you've got the meat going at, for about 30-40 minutes or until nice and golden. Want something green? Haricots Vert with Shallots and a wee pit of pancetta is always yum, as are Parsley Cashew Green Beans.

Homemade rolls. This is kind of like your trainer telling you to do unassisted pull ups. She might not expect you to pull it off but she wants to see you try. :) And if you do try you won't be disappointed - these rolls are totally worth it. Just don't ruin Christmas trying to squeeze these in if you're already in over your head. For the inspired or blessed with extra time:  Rosemary Raisin Rolls or Golden Pillow Dinner Rolls.

Salad. For those of you not killing any birds with my crab cakes idea, you might consider the Pinch house salad - simple mixed greens plus candied pecans, some Gorgonzola, candied pecans, and sliced pear or pomegranate seeds for color. You know how to extract seeds from a pomegranate, right? Cut it in half horizontally (the nub at the top is North), hold one half over a bowl and whack it all over with a wood spoon or back of a chef's knife. The seeds will spill into the bowl.

Drinks! Something bubbly is fun. Use more pomegranate seeds and make a festive Champagne cocktail by pouring a pit of Chambord into the bottom of a champagne flute, fill with Champagne and add a few pomegranate seeds. I picked up a magnum sized Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing Co. They've been brewing it for 36 years. If it's anything like their Anchor Steam, we're sure to love it.

Finally, dessert.  If you're done cooking at this point, pick up an extra-special ice cream or sorbet from a micro dairy. Get something particularly festive such as peppermint, cinnamon or caramel. Serve with something chocolaty and decadent like hazelnut biscotti, triple chocolate cookies, or truffles.

And to all a Good Night!

1 comment:

a2paper said...

Golden dinner rolls = mmmmmmmm!