Christmas Dinner

26 Dec

Christmas dinnerSo Christmas has come and gone. Another day that comes with umpteen hours of planning and re-planning. Writing a menu and then re-writing a menu to accommodate all of the tastes of the guests in attendance. You want to be bold and impressive, but not be slaving in the kitchen for days. At least with Thanksgiving the menu is set by tradition. But Christmas is a different story.

This year I was entertaining my in-laws. There were 8 adults and 2 kiddies. Although they are willing to try everything I make for them, they are still warming up to my culinary experiments. I wanted to set a menu that was full flavored and inspired by Italy, but not predictable. It seemed to simple to me to have lasagna or chicken piccata. So here’s what I went with:

Christmas Dinner 2009

Mom’s Famous Italian Chopped Salad

Salute Roast of Pork, glazed with blood orange marmelade, roasted over fennel and sweet potaotes
Four cheese Italian potatoes au gratin
Haricot Vert sautéed with garlic
Roasted acorn squash with hazelnuts and balsamic reduction

And for dessert-

Christmas cookies and croquembouchecroquembouche

The salad was supposed to go out before the main course, however, a few people were late because of weather and traffic and so everything went out at once. Although, a slight change in plan, it still went over big, with the leftovers going home with my mother-in-law. Here’s the recipe for my mom’s famous Italian chopped salad.

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup candied walnuts

3/4 cup or 4 oz of blue cheese (I use Danish blue, but she likes the crumbles)

1/2 cup homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Just toss all the ingredients together and serve. Reserve a few walnuts and a few crumbles of cheese to garnish with.Acorn SquashThe recipe for the dressing is simple. 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 2 teaspoon honey, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup good quality olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Purée on a blender or whisk until incorporated. Toss into salad gently. This salad is good anytime. It’s light and zippy (yes, zippy) and can be easily made into a main dish by adding grilled chicken or salmon.

To make the roast, I purchased a salute roast from the butcher and brined it the night before serving in salt, brown sugar, orange juice, and fennel fronds. When I was ready to roast the piggy, I set it up on a bed of sweet potatoes, fennel, and blood oranges. I roasted it at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 40 minutes and then let it rest for 30 minutes. The meat was a perfect medium well (which was a little more than I like, but the brine helped to keep the meat juicy and flavorful.) Every 30 minutes I brushed the roast with homemade blood orange marmalade which I made a few days earlier.

Everything turned out perfectly. We had a few leftovers, but well that made a great dinner tonight as orange glazed pork tacos with fennel and black beans.

Always thinking of the next meal (which won’t be for awhile)


3 Responses to “Christmas Dinner”

  1. John Dryzga December 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    I’m not cooking next year, we’re just going to show up on your doorstep. We’ll bring wine. The food looks great, I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

    • Doug January 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

      Looks delicious Katie. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Ryan. We had the Costco version of Croquembouche for New Years:


      –Not quite your masterpiece dessert…

  2. Samantha Mathews February 6, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    just made these today and they are amazing. I will be making these again! I have a cooking recipe site as well and Id like to exchange links with you. Let me know if this is possible. Thanks.

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