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Nov 18, 2010 12:04 PM

Christmas Dinner discussion

We used to make goose for Christmas, and then, since we weren't thrilled with the mittle European go-withs (things with prunes, and apples and such) we switched to a proper English meal with a standing rib roast, yorkshire pudding, scalloped potatoes, multiple green vegetables and stilton and sticky toffee pudding among the dessert board (we even acquired a celery vase and a cracker caddy for the stilton). I would like to do something different this year, and I am fooling around with the notion of a crown roast of pork. The problems with this are the following -- 1. the dh thinks that a crown roast is not a good way to cook meat since the thickest part of the meat is in the center, covered by stuffing, and 2. we think we will run into the same problem with the side dishes as we did with the goose. We don't want to do a turkey since we do that for Thanksgiving. Does anyone do something unusual for Christmas dinner, and what are your favorite Christmas meals? Also, I would love some ideas for side dishes for a pork roast. Thanks for your help!

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  1. I've wanted to try this for a long time:
    I'd make a potato dish of some sort with mushrooms and/or bleu-type cheese.

    1. None of us are big turkey or ham fans so my mother usually does something with beef. She's done a standing rib roast, beef wellington, a whole roast tenderloin, individual filets, etc. This year she's shaking things up and doing racks of lamb with a spice rub plus a roasted chicken for non-lamb eaters.

      Anyway, I agree with your husband about the pork roast. If you want to do pork, you might see if you can get your hands on some pork short ribs. I had one braised in red wine at Bouchon in Las Vegas and it was one of the greatest things I've ever eaten. Also, the way they had it cut, it was a large bone with a ton of meat, so it made a lovely presentation (each person gets their own rib). I've never seen pork short ribs at any of my usual meat shops, but you might be able to special order.

      4 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        That sounds delicious, but we are wondering if it is, in fact, a short rib. Given the fact that it is named for the short bone, how could it actually have a large bone? Could it have been something else and called a short rib? I'd love to try that!

        1. re: roxlet

          I don't know - it looked like an English-cut beef short rib, just smaller (as you would expect with pork). However, it could have just been marketing. It was definitely delicious though!

          1. re: biondanonima

            It does sound wonderful. Isn't there a Bouchon book somewhere? I wonder if that recipe is in it...

        2. re: biondanonima

          I went on line and saw the menu item for the pork short ribs at Bouchon in LV. Sure do sound fabulous!

        3. I have done Spanish Paella, Beef Wellington, Osso Buco and variations of rack of lamb and roast beef tenderloin for our Christmas dinners.

          1 Reply
          1. re: breadfan

            I've done a crown roast of pork (not Christmas, not in America so don't have Thanksgiving) and have to disagree with your husband - it doesn't have to be packed with stuffing and the meat roasts perfectly - though I think having a good butcher prepare the roast makes a big difference.

            Various things I have served with it: butternut squash tian, Patricia Wells' cauliflower gratin, acorn or butternut squash slices roasted with apple slices, roast potatoes (in goose fat), sweet potatoes that have been baked and then mashed, steamed Napa cabbage with lots of butter and black pepper, endive braised with chicken stock and butter.

            The roast is really pretty scattered with pomegranate seeds before sbringing to the table.

            For a sauce I deglaze with vermouth or cider or calvados.

          2. I've made crown roasts of pork and had them come out marvelously. But if you're worried about it, why not that same cut, just not tied into a circle. I'm thinking of something like the Standing Rib Roast of Pork from the Zuni Cafe cookbook. Did that for a dinner party not too long ago and it was a huge hit.

            I don't do Christmas, but one of the most elegant dinners I ever cooked was for my parents 50th anniversary. I served a whole saddle of lamb and it was just spectacular. Or, you could do racks of lamb. I always find them very festive.

            How many are you cooking for, by the way?

            18 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              We haven't settled our guest list yet, but it will probably be about 12 not including some young 'uns under 8.

              1. re: roxlet

                I guess that means that just about anything short of a standing rib roast or turkey you'd have to do at least two of?

                How about a roasted fillet of beef? I've made this recipe a few times I used caul fat to wrap the roast and it was wonderful. Very forgiving for a group, too, because it's as good room temp as it is hot.

                1. re: JoanN

                  One of the reasons I'm off beef has to do with the fact that a couple of our usual guests are in the 'well done' beef category, which sends my husband into a snit every Christmas when the guests ask if they can have their meat well done. My husband usually gets prime beef, so this annoys him no end, to say nothing of dealing with special requests as you're trying to get dinner for 12 out. I want to avoid anything that has to be cooked a different way for different guests, which is why the idea of pork appeals to me...

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Oh, I see. And understand completely. I'd feel the same way.

                    My 16th birthday present for my grandson, the gourmand, was a week in New York City. Anything he wanted to do; anywhere he wanted to eat. High on his list was Peter Luger. I told him that if we went to Peter Luger we would order the steak for two and order it medium rare. He could have the more well done pieces, but that was how we were going to order the steak. God bless him, I made a convert. A very proud moment in my life.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      These two are very stubborn, and this has been going on for years. We have frequent Egyptian guests who are generally very game about trying medium rare beef even though everything in Egypt is cooked to death. They always say how delicious and juicy the beef is in the US and we tell them it's because it's not well done. Our Xmas guests' tastes are very entrenched however.

              2. re: JoanN

                I also was wondering about how many you are going to serve. As long as it is a crowd and we are on the subject of pork and the Zuni Cafe, I can swear by their version of Mock Porchetta. I honestly do not know why it should modestly be labeled 'mock' as it is as good as many made-on-the-spit-in-Italy versions I have enjoyed. We make this frequently for special dinners.

                The great thing about the porchetta, as opposed to the roasts you are looking at, is that it will feed 12-16 easily if you simply use a larger piece of meat and double the spicing. A very forgiving, very festive and very delicious alternative to that troublesome Crown Roast of Pork.

                1. re: LJS

                  I think that the lack of this Zuni Cafe cookbook is a huge hole in my cookbook collection, and though I have sworn off more cookbooks for the time being, I may have to make an exception in this case.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      I ordered it and it will be in my hot little hands by Tuesday. Somehow, I was under the misapprehension that this was a Mexican or southwestern cookbook. I have never eaten at the restaurant, and somehow I am completely ignorant about the book. I know it gets a lot of love on CH, so I am wondering how I missed it!

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Easy misapprehension to make. Zuni is, in my opinion, right up there with Sunday Suppers at Lucques and All About Braising and might even (I'd have to think harder about this) be in my top ten. Never made anything from it that wasn't at least wonderful, often better than that.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          Zuni Cafe is much loved for its unfussy but excellent California cuisine. When you delve into the book, you might want to look at the COTM threads. Here's the master thread:

                          As an aside, I don't think roasting a goose limits one to those fruit, etc. accompaniments. We had goose for Christmas when I was growing up, and eventually my mother stopped doing the German grated potato stuffing passed down from my father's parents, and began serving what she felt like, as one might do for T-day.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Good point! I saw they did goose on Iron Chef last night (don't know if it was a repeat or not) and I was surprised to see how tentative the judges seemed about it.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              What's great is goose breasts roasted pink in a Peking Duck style oven the way you can get them in China...

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  It is totally delicious - they serve it with a chili jam that goes very well.

                    2. re: LJS

                      Curious why you call the Crown Roast troublesome. Assuming you had trouble with it? I don't recall anything out of the ordinary.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        My husband feels that with the bone one the outside and the fat on the inside, it's hard to get to roast perfectly. I live with a perfectionist.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          I'm sorry. I got lost in a miasma there somewhere. I thought (for no good reason; it's not what s/he said; it's not what I wrote) that LJS was referring to the Zuni Standing Rib Roast of Pork as being problematic. Nevermind.

                  1. Lasagna is our traditional Christmas meal. A nice salad of greens on the side is all you really need, along with some good wine and loving guests.