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cold Christmas Eve buffet?

Hi all,
We are trying to do a cold buffet for Christmas Eve-- something we can lay out after church. I am struggling over a protein. Normally I'd think gravlax or smoked salmon/fish and other smoked meats. Trouble is, I'm pregnant. So while I'm normally not super strict about this stuff, I'm not keen on a whole meal of things I'm not supposed to eat. Other thoughts are cold poached salmon, but think it would be farmed this time of year (right?) which I try to avoid. Poached chicken? Any ideas or recipes would be great. We need to have a meat/fish or my FIL will revolt.

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  1. the brits are quite keen on serving roasts at room temp. anything from goose to tenderloin to turkey. you could also keep this warm in a super low oven while you're at services.

    poached chicken is so bland as to be not worth eating, imho, but i love room temp roast chicken.

    not sure where you live, but yhou may be able to get wild salmon frozen.

    what about shrimp?

    1. The first thing that jumped into my mind is roast beef. You can roast it and slice it ahead of time (or buy one or whatever your preference is) then serve it cold for sandwiches - mustards, horseradish, etc. to go with. As long as everyone likes beef I think that could be good.

      1. Beef tenderloin, sliced and kept at room temperature is very good, or a spiral sliced ham with rolls.

        1. See http://www.chow.com/recipes/12399, "Chilled Beef Terrine in the Style of the Gironde Recipe." I'd like to link it, but my computer incompetence prevents me from doing so. (I've GOT to learn how to do that!) Anyway, I googled it using the phrase"beef terrine recipes" and it was the first one on a list of a lot more, none of which sounded as good to me. This is from Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of Southwest France." Certainly not an easy recipe, but it sounds fun to do and delicious. Good luck!

          1. Cold Shrimp & Oysters....or
            Pork Tenderloin with some of the above mentioned mustards, horseradish, rolls, etc.

            Have Fun!

            1. Yep, roasted beef or pork...room temp with an assortment of sauces and some good bread..you cant go wrong...

              1. This is a recipe I've had for years--from Sunset Magazine maybe--?
                Delicious hot, or cold for picnics etc.

                Wrapped Herb Chicken

                3 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and halved
                6 tablespoons chopped chives, tarragon, oregano, or chervil (OR any fresh herb you choose) Of course you can substitute dried, just reduce the amounts used. (1 tsp dried usually = to 1 TBLS fresh)
                3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
                6 teaspoons onion powder, or to taste
                6 tablespoons butter
                6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

                Oven 375F. Wrap in big piece of foil--1 piece( half breast) of chicken topped with 1 tablespoon chopped herbs (less if dried), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon parsley. Fold foil securely so there are no leaks, bake 30 minutes. I use fresh lemon juice, but have used dried herbs. Also, be sure they are cooked through--especially if you are doing more than 6, or if they are big, it can easily take longer than 30 minutes. Chill and serve.

                5 Replies
                1. re: blue room

                  This sounds very nice, blue room. I love the idea of tenderloin, but I should have mentioned we're trying to do something a bit lighter. It's a bit of a family disagreement-- my in-laws like to do HUGE Christmas Eve dinner (typically standing rib) then HUGE Christmas Day dinner (turkey around 2 PM). I think this is too much and too hard if you do church. So even though the cold buffet will still be a lot of work (frankly, I'd rather go out Christmas EVe, but that is a no-go) we can do it ahead. Maybe I'll do the chicken and some salmon mousse or something. Thanks for all of the ideas everyone! Any thoughts on make-ahead room temp or cold sides?

                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                    How about some nice pickled herring in sour cream in a sliver bowl nestled in the middle of a ring of paper thin sliced red onion? Maybe a few dill sprigs or mint leaves for garnish.

                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      Brilliant, mrbigshot!

                      I was going to suggest veal tonnato, but OP may not want the tuna. Can you make a faux tonnato dressing?

                      1. re: nemo

                        op does want fish. i frequently make tuna 9instead of veal) tonnato and it's always a hit.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Funny you should mention herring! My in-laws are Danish so we will have plenty of herring over the holidays. I may try something different-- came across a good looking recipe for salmon rilettes and just ordered some really good chicken liver pate from a local French restaurant. It's a start...

                2. I have served rather nice pork loin sandwiches. They are not the usal sandwich but gussied up quite a bit. Marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs, roasted, then cooled. Bread is slathered with pesto, roasted red peppers, baby lettuce and onions. Served with red grapes and sliced bosc pears. Eveyone one loved it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Any type of cold buffet for me would have to include ham biscuits served with a nice mustardy potato salad.

                  2. cold roast ham, cold chicken salad or any of it's many variations, (tarragon, asian, with fruits and nuts etc) cold sliced turkey, chicken, pork loin. As kids we always had a cold Christmas Day buffet. Kids were and still are too wound up to sit still for a fancy meal. We would have a cold roast turkey breat, a cold roast ham, mustards, mayonaise, etc.

                    Many Eastern Europeans have a cold Easter dinner after church and serve cold cooked kielbasa with mustards, etc. You could do that as well.

                    OR, instead of a cold main dish, how about a slow cooked dish? A huge meat based lasagna, or pulled pork, or a hearty beef, or veal or turkey stew that could be simmering in the slow cooker while you are at church?