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Turkey-free Christmas

Christmas dinner for a guy I know is meat loaf, shaped like a Christmas tree with green and red bell pepper "ornaments." That's what his mom always made. At my grandma's, the meal was ravioli; I was in high school before I realized most people did Thanksgiving dinner all over again on Dec. 25. If you've got an offbeat family Christmas meal, particularly one rooted in Baltimore food tradition, I'd like to include it in a story I'm writing for The Baltimore Sun.

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  1. That's a creative meat loaf. I can't remember the last time I fed my friends turkey for Christmas. We do that at Thanksgiving and one is enough for a few months. Last few years, Safeway has had a pretty good sale on bone-in rib roast right befor Christmas so that's what I've been having. It's been warm enough so that I can cook it in the Weber kettle and give it a good dose of smoke.

    1. Our Christmas Eve dinner growing up was always Italian - baccala, tripe, anchovy crispelli - all the weird things my father ate as normal food when he was a kid. The tripe smelled so bad cooking I'd go out on the porch for hours in the Buffalo winter.

      It left me with a long standing love of baccala and hatred of tripe.

      2 Replies
      1. re: reiflame

        And I remember the smell of the the baccala as it was soaking. We had a cold pantry off the kitchen, and I refused to go near that door when the baccala was soaking, it smelled sooo bad. Ironically, it left me with a long-standing aversion to baccala!

        1. re: roxlet

          Hehehe - as bad as the baccala was, the tripe just cleared everybody out of the house. Baccala was DEFINITELY the lesser of two evils (and tasted a lot better when finished, too)

      2. Since it's just my husband and me these past few years, we usually dine out on Christmas Day. But it's slim pickin's as far as selection as most dining establishments are closed for the Holiday.

        Last year we went to Oregon Grill on Christmas Eve and were scheduled to spend Christmas Day itself at Brighton's, but we were not feeling very inclined to go out again, so we ordered in Chinese food from a local joint. No messy cleanup.

        So, this year I am planning to venture out on the Eve, but am going to have a Baltimore-type dinner of Crab Imperial and fried oysters, plus salads that I can make ahead (or buy from a good deli). We can relax and graze on all types of goodies during the day, open presents, watch movies and play games. And, we won't be stuck with two people having to consume a 15 pound turkey, stuffing, etc. for days on end.

        In fact, I prefer to deep fry a turkey in January and also bake cookies during the winter months when everyone else's Christmas supplies have been depleted. I bake and cook leisurely on those frosty, dreary days. It warms the heart and tummy. FoiGras

        1. Being raised in Baltimore with a heritage back to Northern Neck VA and all the Aunts and Uncles including my Mom were watermen ... in my family a holiday dinner without Crab Imperial stuffed rockfish (and oyster stew to start it off) was a sacriledge.

          Let me know if you like my Mom's recipe

          1. Steamed shrimp with lots of Old Bay and ham. My grandmother used to always have the nut covered cheese balls and crackers as snacks now that she is gone I miss that pink and orange ball covered with almond slivers.

            My Dad's first wife always makes lasagna and man she makes good lasagna.

            1. We're having ham. We usually have ham. One year it was chicken enchiladas. This year, along with the ham, there will be tamales, and some other not-Christmas food.

              1. We, being from Baltimore, always had a Thanksgiving re-do. My husband's family , from New England, always has beef on Christmas Day. I'm cooking a big tenderloin this Christmas. It is a great excuse to buy a really nice cut of meat!

                1. Growing up it was venison or wild boar, now that I live in Bermuda it is Lobster!

                  It is a lazy day since it is just the 2 of us, we will start the morning with a southern breakfast Johnny Cakes and sausage gravy (my background) and then for lunch we will have some fried anchovies and fishcakes…For dinner Spiny Lobster, I usually boil first, split in half remove meat chop up and make a white sauce with s a hint of sherry and crab meat; it is heaven on a plate!

                  1. Ham was our traditional Christmas dinner. Now we've migrated more to brisket/ribs on the smoker.

                    1. growing up (NW PA) it was always Thanksgiving redux for Christmas. Finding out that others had different traditions was quite a revelation.

                      I married into an Italian family, so Christmas became lasagna, and Italian deli ~~ from the mushrooms to the olives to the cheeses, to the BREAD. (have to stand in line on Christmas eve morning) sausages, meatballs, peppers, proscuitto wrapped melon, caponata, all of it.

                      And COOKIES.

                      1. Usually shrimp cocktail, french onion soup, rib roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, rolls, chocolate mousse. This year, pretty much the same, except I think I'm doing a NY strip roast instead of the rib roast (better price and I have a coupon) I actually asked the family if they wanted turkey instead, because I bought 5 of them the week of Thanksgiving when they were 40 cents a pound. But, beef is the consensus, so beef it will be:)

                        1. For my DH and I, we usually have roast beef however this year we're having boneless leg of lamb for Christmas dinner.....we generally never have turkey for Christmas.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lvanleer

                            Would love to cook and have boneless leg of lamb for Christmas....unfortunatley, somehow, I have managed to raise a daughter who only eats beef or poultry...no pork, no fish and no lamb!!!! My husband and I plan our lamb eating for when she won't be around:) What will you have with your lamb?

                          2. My family has never been consistent with Christmas. Sometimes it has been turkey. Sometimes it has been ham. One year my mother got a cajun turkey breast and crab cakes. We have had manicotti (homemade, made from crepes) or lasagna. One time we had a beef tenderloin with the lasagna. Occasionally there has been a pork roast.

                            My family is Italian so Christmas Eve was always the fish thing. It was my least favorite holiday of the year.

                            This year I'm going to my mother's and she's making sausage and peppers and baked ziti.

                            If I had been hosting Christmas, I would have made a pork crown roast or duck!