Christmas Menu Ideas
I'm charged (happily!) with planning a Christmas dinner menu for 8-10 people. The consensus for the entree is turkey. Really, isn't that Thanksgiving? You may wonder--if you are charged (and ultimately charged with executing in the kitchen the day of) why I don't have final say. Longer story.
I was thinking of doing a theme--traditional Italian (or English--yorkshire pudding!) or Southwest --any thoughts come to mind--side dishes or main?
I'm having a time getting the ideas flowing.
Some links for southwestern ideas:
If you go this way, try getting the butcher to butterfly the turkey, rub appropraite seasonings all over and cook it on a rack above the dressing. There was a ooks illustrated a while back with this method and I have been using it ever since. (caveat: if you want gravy you will have to use some of the skin and other parts because all of the drippings go directly into the stuffing)
It's unclear whether you feel bound by the consensus on the turkey, since you indicate you *don't* have the final say.
If turkey is the deal, I would suggest you not roast it a la Thanksgiving. Consider braising or poaching preparations instead.
Along this idea, turkey, btw, is an indigenous dish of Mexico. Turkey with red mole is a classic feast, a turkey breast is halved, browned in a pot and then braised in the mole in a moderate oven. Build around it with New World foods....
English Christmas dinner is pretty traditional and easy -- roast turkey (the English wrap bacon around turkey before roasting it -- a change from the traditional Thanksgiving), roast parsnips, creamed spinach, and Yorkshire Pud or roast/mashed/gratin potatoes. Steamed pudding with brandy butter or mince pies for dessert.
A traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner is the Seven Fishes. That is because no meat was allowed on the evening before a Feast Day. But I don't see a reason why you couldn't do it on Christmas Day as a change of pace for your family.
Basically, a Seven Fishes dinner is composed of dishes using 7 different types of seafood. For example, you can do peel-and-eat shrimp, fried calamari, and clams casino for apps. You can also have a cold seafood salad with different types of seafood in it.
Then have some type of pasta course with with seafood in it.
For the main course, maybe a whole roasted fish or lump crab cakes.
Now to be really traditional, one of the dishes should contain baccala, which is salted cod (they look like dried washboards hanging in the fish market). You have to soak it in water for 2-3 days (change the water 2-3 times a day) in advance to rehydrate it, but you can make a cold salad with it, or cook it in some tomato sauce.
But if all of that sounds too ambitious (or costly), a traditional Italian (or Italian-American) Christmas Day meal would simply be ravioli in tomato sauce.
Hope this helps!!
P.S. I agree that if you're in charge of the meal, you should set the menu!!