What's on the menu: Christmas Edition
December 2, 2012 4:31 PM   Subscribe

What should we make for Christmas Dinner and possibly establish as a new family tradition?

I'm not big into roast beef and traditional turkey and stuffing doesn't appeal. I like cooking and I like tradition though I also like establishing my own tradition. Last year we made the mufti-day, many-ingredient Chicken Mole recipe from a Rick Bayless cookbook for Christmas dinner. It was good but perhaps a little too involved. I have time but maybe not that much time this year. Ideally it would be something we could make every year though that's not a requirement. Previous years we've also made pizza from scratch and made lasagna.

This year there's probably just three of us (me, my husband, and our 4-year old) but leftovers are welcome. I can source just about any ingredient in North America. No allergies though we don't eat red meat (except bison occasionally). Something that feels like an accomplishment at the end and is super delicious are the goals.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Duck! We have made duck breasts with a pinot+berry sauce every year for the past few. Goes great with some wilted spinach or other green, and some turnip or orangey starch, so it's super simple. We don't have any leftovers except for the duck fat which we drain off the fried breasts before simmering in the sauce.

We have a 4 year old too. She has yet to eat dinner with us. This year might be the first time, but we do like our late night boozy adult dinner just the two of us.
posted by gaspode at 4:35 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since you seem to be a fan of Latin American dishes, maybe you would be interested in this recipe for chicken tamale pie. It isn't especially time consuming but it looks absolutely gorgeous when you pull it out of the oven, and is very tasty.
posted by capricorn at 4:37 PM on December 2, 2012

I'm on team duck - but this year, I think we will be doing rack of lamb. Both are good
posted by mumimor at 4:39 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whole roasted duck. Lobster. Poached side of salmon. Leg of lamb. We've had all of these things for festive holidays. You do get sick of standard holiday roasts.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:40 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go Quebec! Here's a traditional Fench-Canadian Xmas dinner recipe--4-year-olds guaranteed to be pleased: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/french-canadian-tourtiere/
posted by thisclickableme at 4:40 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, link.
posted by thisclickableme at 4:41 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tamales. Can make & freeze over successive nights weeks ahead of time, then slowly steam to warm on Christmas.
posted by tilde at 4:43 PM on December 2, 2012

Tamales!. They are traditional in many Hispanic households, but relatively novel elsewhere. You can make them with a variety of fillings if you don't want the exact same thing each year and they are a fair amount of work to make from scratch but freeze well, so make a big batch and save some for later or for gifts.
posted by TedW at 4:44 PM on December 2, 2012

We do lasagna too. Can prepare ahead of time and put in the fridge or freezer, then pop in the oven in the afternoon. Very easy and tasty.
posted by supercres at 4:45 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This recent askme has great ideas for Christmas dinners that don't take all day to cook.
posted by jamaro at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2012

Oh yes, tamales! They can be a family cooking project and are also wonderful for instead-of-cookies gifts.
posted by Mizu at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, forgot to mention that my husband seems interested in roasting a goose.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:55 PM on December 2, 2012

Roast goose is delicious and traditional, but much tastier than turkey. Be sure and save the goose fat (there will be a lot). I bet you could use it in place of lard to make tamales.
posted by TedW at 5:02 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you eat pork, I do a slow cooked roast pork every year that everyone looks forward to. Basically I get a rolled and tied leg of pork, massage it in oil. Bonus points if you stuff garlic in the scored skin but no biggie if you don't.

I put it in a super slow oven - 120 Celsius, covered in foil, and with some liquid in the base (beer or stock or wine or whatever you have laying about). There it sits for 7 hours at least, and maybe more.

Then crank up the heat for 30 minutes - 240celsius, to get that crackling happening.

So easy, so little fuss, and SO TENDER.
posted by shazzam! at 5:04 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My family (on my mom's side) has done pulled-pork bbq every Christmas Eve gathering for as long as I can remember.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:09 PM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: Pork is definitely a possibility!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:11 PM on December 2, 2012

Pork loin is delicious, and cooks quickly. I've recommended this before. The entire meal is fantastic and always a big hit. You can use pineapple if mangos are hard to come by.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:14 PM on December 2, 2012

My husband and I started making chicken pot pie as our Christmas Eve tradition a few years ago. This is the recipe we use. It's time consuming enough that it feels like an event, but is not too fancy. For Christmas Day we go out for Chinese food. There are a lot of Jewish people in our community, so the restaurant we go to is packed and it feels fun and festive. There are some benefits to being away from family at the holidays!
posted by apricot at 5:17 PM on December 2, 2012

Christmas is Dungeness crab season, and these are the best crab cakes in the world.
posted by purpleclover at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: Hmm. Now I'm thinking of cassoulet after the duck talk.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:36 PM on December 2, 2012

Cheese fondue is fun and festive
posted by Sukey Says at 5:42 PM on December 2, 2012

Homemade Salmon and Sweet Potato Ravioli.

If you've never made Ravioli pasta from scratch it's really fun, and to young children it's almost magical.

Start the sauce in the morning, cook it for 10-12 hours...

Here's a recipe, minus the salmon.

posted by roboton666 at 5:48 PM on December 2, 2012

I'm doing a cassoulet and so should you.
posted by ephemerista at 5:50 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My family does Dungeness crab, Caesar salad, sourdough bread (yes we're from the Bay Area), and lots of pure wholesome butter. Ultra-delicious and festive, and super-easy on the cook.

That said, cassoulet does sound good.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:28 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gumbo! For parents, it's a rich stew with chicken and sausage, for kids, it's rice and gravy. It's easy and it's even better the next day. It's what I'll be making.
posted by ColdChef at 6:31 PM on December 2, 2012

My family always makes fried oysters for Christmas. I am not an oyster person so I don't usually partake, but it's a big, big part of Christmas dinner for us and I know most of my family would wholeheartedly recommend it. My dad's favorite part is having the leftovers for breakfast the next day.

We always buy canned oysters, and the oysters are dipped in egg and rolled in crushed Saltines before being fried.
posted by meggan at 6:32 PM on December 2, 2012

Sushi and champagne/sparkling apple juice!

The sushi doesn't have to be all raw: you could do Korean style with barbequed beef instead of fish, or California rolls with fake crab.

You could make gyoza and egg rolls to have on the side. Add on teriyaki chicken, maybe a salad with sesame dressing and some miso soup.

It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. You can make it a formal sit-down meal or eat it as finger food.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2012

We've done ham the last few years - the honey/sweet/glazed kind, rather than the smoked kind or fresh.

Goes great with broccoli/asparagus and scalloped potatoes. We also did mashed potatoes with garlic (so as to avoid the gravy anxiety.)

Something else that works well for almost every holiday meal that strikes me as even vaguely traditional: anything apple. Baked apples, cooked apples, etc.
posted by SMPA at 7:08 PM on December 2, 2012

Team Goose! We're doing this too :)

Oysters Rockefeller are great if you're having other people over and there might be booze.
posted by katya.lysander at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2012

We have wild boar on Christmas Day and cheese fondue the night before. Wild boar is usually ranch raised, but it's much tastier than regular pork or ham and leftovers make great ragu.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:12 PM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: We're probably having hot-oil fondue on Xmas eve (in-law's tradition) so cheese fondue is probably out. I've spent the last hour reading cassoulet recipes and I think that might be a winner!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:02 PM on December 2, 2012

Seconding TedW on a roast goose. The fat rendered makes the Best Damned Roast Potates You'll Ever Taste.

Another great option is a smoked, fully cooked ham (not spiral sliced or previously glazed) rubbed with maple syrup, grainy dijon mustard and herbes de provence. Place on a rack in a roasting pan with some water in it and heat at about 350˚f until meat reaches safe internal serving temperature. Delicious.
posted by pianoboy at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2012

We made duck cassoulet last year, and it was so good we decided to do it again this year (and make it traditional henceforth).
posted by Specklet at 2:27 AM on December 3, 2012

For my final I did deboned chicken thighs rolled around motz and arugula (but subbed spinach when I did it at home a few days later) with rice, braised brussels and basically a chicken valutte by throwing flour into what was left in the pan.

Really easy, not too heavy, and a nice chunk of it can be done ahead if time.
posted by theichibun at 4:02 AM on December 3, 2012

Pork crown roast. We had it for Thanksgiving, very delicious. We usually get a few pork loins from Sams Club for Christmas; we have about 30 guests.
posted by coldhotel at 4:28 AM on December 3, 2012

We made Moroccan Spiced Pie one year. Tasty and looks impressive. Takes some work to put it together.
posted by paduasoy at 5:26 PM on December 3, 2012

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