Go Small And Go Home
December 23, 2008 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Help us cook a holiday feast for just the three of us.

What are your favorite recipes for the holidays for small families? We love us some Cooks Illustrated, but it's proving to be a little...challenging to scale a recipe that's meant to serve 12-14 back for 2 adults and a 4-year-old.

So suggest away: we'd love to hear what tried-and-tested favorites you've made for your four-people-or-fewer families for the holidays.
posted by scrump to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There should be a Flickr pool.
posted by theora55 at 7:11 AM on December 23, 2008

Best answer: Not anything I'm sure you couldn't think of yourself, but at Thanksgiving it was just Mr Allstar and I, and we had mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, mac-n-cheese, and he had a ham steak. We'll be having something similar for Christmas dinner, as it will just be the two of us again.
posted by All.star at 7:15 AM on December 23, 2008

Best answer: A single duck is perfect for a family of two w/ a small kid. Cooks in about two hours.

If you're ambitious, serve it with homemade (or store bought) butternut squash ravioli and some broccolini.
posted by bondcliff at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yup, we are having duck breast with berry sauce, couscous, green beens and carrots. And rolls. And brownies and ice cream for dessert.
posted by gaspode at 7:23 AM on December 23, 2008

You could probably scale some of the recipes in this Thanksgiving for One post up. Cornish hens, yummy!
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:48 AM on December 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could also buy a turkey breast and cook it like you would a turkey (you can even stuff it). It's enough meat for one family without wasting an entire turkey. (We do it for Thanksgiving because not everyone in my extended family eats meat). We also have Cornish hens some times.
posted by bluefly at 7:53 AM on December 23, 2008

It's just four of us (all with large appetites), so I'm doing a 7-lb turkey, dressing, green beans (haricots verts), mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, gravy, and pie. Gives enough for supper Christmas night and leftovers the next day.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:56 AM on December 23, 2008

The wife and I had three people over for Thanksgiving, but had a turkey anyway. The extra turkey went into soup and was cut into pieces as a filler for burritos. The carcass was our first opportunity to make meat stock.

Plus, the more turkey on your plate, the less other stuff that's not nearly so good for you.
posted by notsnot at 8:31 AM on December 23, 2008

Best answer: I've posted this before (only for T-Day) but it could easily fit for Christmas. It's really fun to make (even for kids) and although its designed as vegetarian (vegan actually) just add some turkey or whatever if you like. Takes a while to make (a few hours easily from prep to table) but you can involve everyone in the process. Awesome presentation and tastes wonderful. Make sure to include the gravy recipe. It's uncannily good.
posted by elendil71 at 9:03 AM on December 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Coke can chicken is delicious, Cook's Illustrated approved [I got my recipe from the Kitchen Detectives] and serves three hungry people with a skeleton leftover for stock if you like that sort of thing. Plus kids love it because it's weird.
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 AM on December 23, 2008

Best answer: Dungeness crabs!

You're in the SF bay area and this is crab season. The crabs are fresh, plentiful and well-priced in the local markets. If you want to make an excursion out of it, buy your crabs fresh off the boat in Half Moon Bay harbor.

Assuming you haven't cooked crab before, it's easy: large pot of boiling water + crab. Bonus points if you add Old Bay crab boil mix to the water but no biggie if you don't. Figure on one crab/person, set the table with newspaper, wood mallets, picks and pliers; supply melted butter, fresh crispy sourdough and crisp white wines and have at it.

Crabs have been our family's Christmas dinner tradition from the very beginning, my now-10-year-old gummed his first crab leg at one.

(I also have a fabulous recipe for crabs with black bean sauce, filipino style, if you want it).
posted by jamaro at 9:58 AM on December 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Lamb's always been traditional for holidays in my mom's family. If you don't need One Giant Piece Of Animal on the table, how about lamb chops? Recipes with Lots Of Tiny Animal Pieces are way easer to scale...

(Alternately, when it used to be just me and my girlfriend for Easter, we'd make a ham and then have all our friends over that weekend for beer and ham sandwiches. That got to be sort of a tradition too, actually.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:17 PM on December 23, 2008

Best answer: This Thanksgiving, I got put in charge of dinner. I'm not a fan of turkey, and it was just two of us anyway. So I made oven roasted chicken (with an herbal cream cheese under the skin), red cabbage with apple, and cheesy oven baked mashed potatoes (just stuck them in with the chicken for the last 30 or so minutes).

All very easy and tasted absolutely awesome.

Recipes can be found on foodnetwork.com or similar, but I can give you the rough overview (temps and times approximate - might want to double check somewhere).

Chicken: whole chicken, loosen the skin with your fingers. Stuff an herbal (cream) cheese between the meat and the skin. Salt and pepper, onion and garlic to taste. Stick in preheated oven at 400? degrees F (stick meat thermometer into breast meat if you have one) for 60? minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 155 F. Take chicken out and rest, covered with foil. Temperature will continue to rise a little - chicken is safe at 160-165.

Baked Mashed potatoes: make mashed potatoes (peel, chunk & boil potatoes until soft in salted water. drain. mash. add milk/cream/butter and salt/pepper to taste). Grate in a cup of cheese (the recipe calls for mozzarella, but i like a nice Gruyere for flavor) and half a cup of Parmesan. Mix and move into baking dish. Shake bread crumbs and some more Parmesan over top of potatoes. Stick into oven with chicken the last 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Red Cabbage: easiest of all - just cheat. Get some nice red cabbage in a glass like Hengstenberg (grocery store, or if all else fails, Whole Foods carries Hengstenberg). Sweat some onion and apple pieces in a sauce pan in olive oil or butter. Dump in the red cabbage. Add some apple juice to keep nice and moist. Salt/pepper/garlic to taste. Heat through. Done.

All together, this meals takes maybe 75 minutes start to finish. Start with the potatoes, then while they're boiling, do your chicken. Then the mashed potatoes, and once everything is in the oven, do the cabbage. Add a nice desert and you're good to go.

posted by yggdrasil at 2:38 PM on December 24, 2008

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