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Unusual Christmas dinners

Anyone do anything unique for Christmas? We're doing sauerbraten this year. I love it, because my husband is the sauerbraten chef in the house, so I'll be able to sit back and continue my annual tradition of the 24-hour Bailey's marathon.

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  1. My family does a whole deboned chicken that is stuffed with mincemeat, chorizos, eggs and savories until it is "re-animated," so to speak, roasted and served with a butter-based soy gravy. It's traditional to the Philippines, but qualifies as "unusual" stateside.

    10 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      JM, That sounds really interesting! Do you have a recipe you could share?

      Possible to make that ahead and re-heat? I go to a group gathering for skiing and festive fun for NY, and am kind of known for bringing some interesting main dish for the big group dinner that night.... this might just fill the bill this year!

      1. re: gingershelley

        Basically take a whole deboned chicken, about 3 lbs., and marinate it in 3 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. sugar overnight. The next day bring it to temperature while you combine the following for the stuffing:
        1/2 lb. ground ham
        1/2 lb. ground pork
        1/2 lb. ground chicken
        1 1/2 oz. raisins
        1/4 c. chopped onions
        5 oz. sweet relish
        1 tbsp. lemon juice
        2 tbsp. soy sauce
        1 tbsp. garlic powder
        2 beaten eggs
        2 tbsp. bread crumbs
        2 tsp. pepper
        salt to taste
        Once you've combined the stuffing into a uniform mixture, stuff half of it into the chicken cavity, also filling the legs. Before the chicken is completely filled, arrange 4 hardboiled eggs, 6 cocktail sausages and a length of chorizo head-to-tail inside the chicken. Finish filling the chicken with the remaining stuffing and sew neck and tail-ends shut. Brush generously with melted butter, tent with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake a further 20 minutes until skin is golden.

        To make the sauce, make a medium roux with 2 tbsp. butter and flour, add 1 tbsp. minced garlic and whisk with 2 tbsp. soy sauce and the drippings from the chicken (which will be very generous). Add lemon juice and stock to taste.

        To serve, slice the chicken laterally to showcase the decorative filling. The chicken reheats beautifully so yes, you can make it ahead of time.

        1. re: JungMann

          Please tell us what time dinner will be ready so we will all be on time. :) That sounds a-MAZ-ing, thank you for the recipe!

          1. re: thedryer

            It's a Filipino dinner. You can plan on 7 o'clock, but you know no one will show up until 8!

            1. re: JungMann

              I'll plan on 6:45 so I get a good seat at the table!

              If you think of it, will you please take a pic or 2 to post after Christmas?? I just shared the recipe with my husband and we are salivating just reading about it!

              Merry Christmas!!

              1. re: JungMann

                Ah yes, island time. :-) All kidding aside, that sounds incredibly good! Do you get the butcher to debone the chicken? I'm no good at that. If I can get it deboned ahead of time, I might just try this. What do you serve with it? We have rice with everything, but I imagine you could have pancit and/or vegetable lumpia and/or all sorts of good things.
                Mele Kalikimaka e Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

                1. re: KailuaGirl

                  A good butcher should be able to debone the chicken, but I've always just done it myself. With a good, sharp knife and some elbow grease, it's easier than one might expect.

                  Once the prep is done and it's fiesta time, out comes the pancit and lumpiang shanghai (vegetable lumpia is more everyday fare), but thinking solely about the relleno, it's a bit soft so I think you need a crunchy vegetable to contrast. Roasted green beans and seven layer salad are usually popular choices at home. And the rice is a must to sop up the delicious gravy. It's so good it could make shoes taste great... especially if they belong to Imelda.

            2. re: JungMann

              Thanks JM - I will let you know if I am making this for NYE! :)

              1. re: JungMann

                We had an American neighbor (Yale-educated college professor) who lectured at one of Singapore's local universities. She's half-Filipino. Once, she gave us a whole 'rellenong manok' which she'd cooked herself as a Christmas gift. That must have been nearly 40 years ago, but I'd thought it was the best-tasting roasted chicken dish I'd ever had then - and I still do!

                1. re: JungMann

                  Wow- That sounds delicious. this is a meal I would love to try and make- though I would probably need a few times to get it sewed up correctly. Thanks for the recipe.

              1. We live just outside Tampa and do a full-on gorgeous table Thanksgiving menu, but with 4 grandsons eager to play, we do things simpler on Christmas. Last year was a summer BBQ menu, with ribs, slaw, potato salad, etc... This year we're grilling some prime steaks and asparagus. We'll add a tossed salad (maybe with cranberries and a cranberry vinaigrette) and hasselback potatoes. We do things we wouldn't normally do as an any-old-day thing. Oh, and we heat the pool!

                1. I've done Pernil the last couple of years - it's a nice break from Turkey etc.

                  Here's Daisy Marteniz's version - I prefer Mojo Crillio for the marinate (exactly the same as this save for fresh oj and lime - or if you can get sour oranges).

                  1. We are doing fondue of all sorts (oils, cheese, chocolate...) and will be gorging ourselves on some lovely foie gras we brought back from Paris.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: chefathome

                      I don't know why, but fondue at Christmas time seems fairly normal to me.

                      1. re: FrankJBN

                        Actually, it's pretty normal to us, too, but not to those in this area for some odd reason.

                      2. re: chefathome

                        I've done fondue on NYE before! Very festive.

                        1. re: chefathome

                          Fondue is our traditional New Year's Eve dinner. I make it with 3 or 4 different cheeses, then serve it with steamed broccoli and carrots, crusty bread, and fried sausage slices for dipping. Wash down with champagne.

                        2. I don't know if this is unusual but this year we will have for Christmas lunch -

                          Lobster bisque (purchased from a local restaurant)
                          whole tenderloin
                          King crab legs
                          baked potatoes

                          1. Several years ago I did a huge middle-eastern feast.

                            1. We usually go on vacation over Christmas and enjoy a nice meal at a fun looking local place--usually asking the server for a suggestion. This year, I'm super excited to be heading to Malaysia (Penang over Christmas) and the possibilities are endless!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: alliegator

                                I'm already here in Penang - first Christmas here. Super-clan gathering as cousins from Singapore, HK, Australia, UK, Thailand fly in for an annual get-together. Only our American cousins can't make it as they've decided to have their own get-together in San Francisco this year.

                              2. I'm doing crab cakes and baked shrimp skewers. Also Mac n Cheese with caramelized onions, garlic bread, green salad, pumpkin hummus, and homemade apple pie. And lots of wine!

                                1. Our traditional roast goose that I've been making for many decades of Christmases is classic, not unusual, yet you'd be amazed at how many people look at me like I've just said I'm making roast Zebra when I mention it. Go figure.

                                  Guess "unusual" is in the eye of the beholder.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                    Change the goose to thanksgiving and the eyebrows will raise even higher.

                                    Since you've been doing a long time, let me ask you - did goose used to be much, much cheaper? I ask because I used to do goose at Thanksgiving back when I was a 'bottom-rung wage earner'. now I make a decent living, but goose is just too expensive .ie. $75 for a decent bird.

                                    1. re: FrankJBN

                                      Yup - goose used to be much, MUCH cheaper. Was always more expensive than turkey, but for some reason has become the caviar of poultry these days.

                                      I've been pricing them these past few weeks, & your price is close to the mark here in VA. Running around $5 & change per pound, so for a 12+ pound bird like we usually buy, $60+.

                                      But we look at it this way. One - it's a once-a-year treat for us. Two - we get several meals out of that one bird since it's just the two of us. We have the original feast, leftover repeat feast, then the remaining meat goes into my traditional New Year's Day French Cassoulet, which we also get at least two meals & several lunches out of. So when you compute that $60+ bird into the meals it provides, it really doesn't work out so bad cost-wise.

                                      Works for me. ;)

                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                        Not to mention maybe a quart or so of goose fat. Last goose we had was my pa-in-law's last Christmas, about three years ago. He hollered directions and we did the cooking, and at the end there was a good liter+ of clear fat. And nobody wanted it but me! Still out in the garage fridge, gets called in for confit duty periodically …

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Yes, yes, YES!!!!!!

                                          Got a goodly quart myself last year.

                                          I ALWAYS render the goose fat & use it throughout the year.

                                          Start by dotting my New Year's Day French Cassoulet with it (which also uses up the leftover Xmas Day roast goose), but also freeze it in pint containers that make their way into the fridge from time to time to use for sauteing FABULOUS potatoes, as well as roasting equally FABULOUS root vegetables during the year.

                                          Rendered goose fat is yet another terrific reason for roasting a goose.

                                      2. re: FrankJBN

                                        I saw one at my local market last night $77.

                                        I must say, I don't get a lot of meals out of a goose.

                                        Last I cooked (a deal on one maybe 3 years ago) used a recipe for "Gala goose" found on 'net, worked very well.

                                        1. re: FrankJBN

                                          Well, it's just the two of us, so we have the original Xmas roast goose dinner, then leftover Xmas dinner, then New Year's Day French Cassoulet, then leftover Cassoulet (frequently I freeze some, since the Cassoulet is large), & if there are any bits & pieces still leftover, they go into a curry.

                                          So that one bird ends up giving us anywhere between 5-6 meals for two. Which makes the price per person for some pretty darn good dining off that goose almost cheap.

                                        2. re: FrankJBN

                                          Goose used to be so much cheaper! The last one I bought was after Christmas a few years ago when the store really had to sell or toss so I bought one and had to either cook or freeze it that night. I'm so glad I got it. It was absolutely delicious! I went back the next day and bought 2 more for the freezer. Now I've moved a few times and lost the recipe, but if I see a goose for sale cheap I'm definitely getting it and then searching for the recipe. I got all that lovely rendered goose fat, nice crispy skin, and made spaetzle as well as sweet and sour red cabbage to go with the goose. I must have done something else, but sure can't think of it now.

                                        3. re: Bacardi1

                                          Goose at Christmas and on one other day of the year was the only meal my mother would cook when I was growing up. It was my father's favorite. He would keep the jar of fat on the counter and use it instead of butter for his sandwiches.

                                          I think I will plan goose for next Christmas.

                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                            When I was a kid, my mom decided she was bored with turkey and started doing "unusual" poultry every year. Duck, goose, cornish game hens, and capon made it to the table. The capon was my favorite -- rich and tender without any gaminess.

                                            I priced out goose this year and was shocked at the cost -- they're $95 or so at Whole Foods. I doubt I'd even be able to find a capon.

                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                              My dad would get our geese from a local farm but that was 25+ years ago. I wouldn't know where to get one now, maybe I should start searching!

                                              My local grocery store sells duck and capon (frozen). The duck is good enough, as good as locally sourced farm ones without the driving. I will need to try a capon.

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                Capon is my favorite version of chicken, but it takes those babies a week or more to thaw! All that insulation, you see.

                                                In Nashville I could get a capon whenever I had the urge and the money, but out here in SoCal I see them only around the winter holidays. However, what Mrs O and I started doing from the time we first met was to get ducks, usually one apiece. One year we were hosting another couple; we thought four would be too much, so we got three. The checkout girl said, "THREE ducks?" "Yes!" I replied. "Huey, Dewey and Louie!" I thought she was gonna cry …

                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                  This time of year, many grocery stores that don't carry geese regularly will bring in a few.

                                                  Years ago when geese weren't as popular as they are today, I'd still always be able to find one at the local markets, nestled in (or under) the ducks, capon, & turkeys in the freezer bin.

                                                2. re: Boston_Otter

                                                  Whole Foods is the very last place I'd EVER buy a goose from. WAY overpriced & NO difference in quality. (We bought a fresh one from them one year.)

                                                  ZERO difference from their geese & the frozen ones you'll find at any supermarket for a little more than half the price. AND the supermarket ones are raised the same way - free-range & antibiotic/hormone-free.

                                                  Around here even Walmart carries them (same brand as all the other supermarkets - a wonderful farm in PA). Prices are running $4.50+/lb, which makes a decent-size bird around $55-$65.

                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                    Yep, Wal-Mart. My mom mentioned it to me that I could get one at Super Wal-Mart. Color me surprised. (I live in PA)

                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                      Well, we stopped by our local Walmart last night & picked up a real beauty of a goose - same quality brand as we've enjoyed before. A whopping nice 13.34 pounds for a total of $64.83. That's going to make for a fair number of mighty fine meals in the weeks to come! :)

                                              2. We don't do much of anything on Christmas - Christmas Eve is our big day! And we do the Polish thing - some kind of fish dishes, kapusta, pierogi, potatoes...

                                                The fish prep changes, the pierogi flavors change, but the kapusta is a MUST. My mom makes it once a year and just for Christmas Eve.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                  Same here! At least it used to be, that's what I get for marrying a WASP I guess :-) My husband thinks it's terrible that because we never really did anything on Christmas we would go to the movies, he doesn't understand how fun it is to go to a private screening. Our Wigilia menu was the same as yours.

                                                  I don't know if your family does the oplatek, but the first time my protestant-raised husband came over for Christmas Eve, I warned him, don't take a big piece, it tastes terrible. He had to be the best potential in law ever and take a big though. I have met people who claim to like the taste of communion wafers, my husband is not one of them.

                                                  1. re: zitronenmadchen

                                                    Ha! We definitely do oplatek and, I kinda like it! Reminds me of some paper candy that used to be available a couple decades ago.

                                                    My mom always gets that and the dried forest mushrooms (for the kapusta) from Poland every year. Only exception is if they've had a bad season and there aren't any mushrooms to be had.

                                                    It's also why I never believed in Santa Claus - we just had to wait for the first star to be visible before opening presents on Christmas Eve.

                                                2. During the years when our children were grown but we still lived in the same area we developed a tradition of having a Christmas Eve dinner composed entirely of hors d'oeuvre(s), maybe 15 kinds, and we would eat them all evening while opening presents. This freed them for other family (eg in-law) obligations on Christmas Day, it freed us from cooking on Christmas Day (we'd go out to eat if we felt like it), and it gave everybody a chance to go crazy eating favorite hors d'oeuvre(s) without having to "save room for dinner".

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                    I like this and may consider it for this year's xmas day "meal". I love the idea of a long day of different bites of food. It sounds like fun.

                                                  2. Boy, nothing gets the tastebuds going like the thought of pairing Baileys with sauerbraten. I'll take Bacardi1's zebra, thanks :-)

                                                    Not so unusual for northern CA, but my aunt does a lot with dungeness crab, and makes a prime rib.

                                                    When I'm with my folks the tradition is home-made tortellini as a first course.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                      Ha! Well, I'll probably take a break from the Bailey's around dinner time to have some sekt with the appetizers, and then drink beer with the sauerbraten. But it will be back to bailey's and cocoa for dessert!

                                                    2. My local Market Basket (Bourne) had frozen Goose near the turkeys this Thanksgiving and the week after. (Haven't been since) I think they were around $40 but can't vouch for the size. Looked pretty big to me. I'll check again this weekend.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                        They usually run between 9 & 13 pounds. Even though it's only my husband & I, I always buy the largest bird I can find because there's less meat vs. bone on a goose than there is for other poultry like turkey. This way we get more meals out of that one goose - Xmas dinner, leftover Xmas dinner, New Year's Day French Cassoulet, several meals of leftover Cassoulet.

                                                        So even though they're expensive (the ones around here are running around $4.50+/lb. or so), when you break that down per meal per person, it's not so bad. Plus, we consider it our once-a-year holiday treat (although a hunting acquaintance does grace us with wild Canada Goose breasts during the year as well).

                                                      2. A couple of years ago I realized that while we'd stopped doing the big family Christmas after Pa-in-law died - since that was his big scene, and we all just went along - and were basically just treating it as a day off, I still admired those traditions that celebrate Christmas Eve with food, especially seafood. So when I'd found a recipe for Morue à la Savoyarde and run it very successfully past Mrs. O, I decided that was going to be our Official Christmas Eve dish. And then she stopped eating any kind of animal … so much for that.

                                                        However, her mom wants us to host a mini-family lunch on the 25th, and back when we did Christmas all day long the lunch portion was always seafood. Now, I have a recipe for shrimp and grits (polenta, really) that will make my shrimp-loving MIL very happy, but which also works quite well without the shrimp or the bacon garnish since the sauce is rich with mushrooms and shallots. I think maybe a tomato bisque to start and a little salad or steamed veg alongside should make for a decent small feast. And then we'll go our separate ways instead of staying around for the goose or prime rib as we used to.

                                                        1. My Aunts family has always had chicken fried steak for Christmas dinner, her father didn't like Turkey. She has elevated chicken fried steak far beyond the breakfast level- its the best damn chicken fried steak you've ever had in your life.

                                                          1. This Xmas I'm planning on a lamb tagine...rich and hearty, but a much different flavor profile from more traditional fare. I've also made lamb osso buco.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: 280 Ninth

                                                              I used to do leg of lamb for Christmas Day on the Weber when my father was still alive. He loved lamb! Now I'm the only one who likes the stuff so don't get to eat lamb unless it's at a restaurant. I still think mine was better!
                                                              We ate at my house in the afternoon. In the evening I'd drive out to the North Shore to my best friend's mother and step-father's house right on the beach. The waves crashed away (we actually had to evacuate in the middle of the night a few times) and literally shook the house. It was a large dinner for all the extended family and I showed up in time for dessert. Then we'd open presents, have dessert, and everyone else would leave while we cleaned up and had appertifs and talked until going to sleep. Boxing Day we had some more traditions.
                                                              On my way back to Kailua I'd stop in Kahuku and buy fresh corn from the side of the road, then take that home for leftover lamb, fresh corn on the cob, mushroom risotto, and a 3 tomato or pear and almond salad.

                                                            2. This year, we're doing the Epicurious beef tenderloin with port sauce, but have done medieval dinners several times in the past. My mother always makes lasagna even though we are not remotely italian. One year when I was single, I joined my Jewish friends and went out for Chinese food. The year of my divorce from my first husband, I had a pity party all by myself in my apartment. (That sucked.)

                                                              To me, Christmas is a holiday for non-traditional feasting. I'd hate to feel obligated to roast a turkey or goose unless I wanted to.

                                                              1. We had a Thai-themed dinner one year: tom yum soup, crabmeat fried rice, yam woon sen salad. The centrepiece was roast turkey stuffed with "hor mok" (spicy Thai fish mousse) and glutinous rice, and basted with Thai green curry sauce.

                                                                1. It's not particularly esoteric, but on Christmas Eve, we usually just have cracked Dungeness crab, sourdough bread, and a huge salad. Sitting around the table digging out the crabmeat makes for a very festive time, and it's nice to give the cook/Santa an easy night of it.

                                                                  1. I don't think any of our Christmas dinner is unique, but the combination is. We always celebrate on Christmas Eve. Dinner is Norwegian lefse, pork tamales, and assorted sushi. If I'm feeling really energetic, we also have Chinese spring rolls or vegetable lumpia. Then we open all of our presents and have dessert. When I was a kid I was the only one of all my friends who did presents on Christmas Eve. My other friends were so jealous! :-)
                                                                    My parents both grew up that way and realized that if they kept to their traditions not only would it bring some continuity to Christmas Eve, they could sleep in on Christmas morning and wouldn't have to deal with nagging kids like their friends did. When I was in junior high one of my best friends was Jewish so she came to my house for Xmas (we're not religious and she wasn't particularly observant - mainly just the High Holy Days) and always got a present. She didn't eat the tamales (except for one year when I thought ahead of time and made beef tamales), and passed on any shrimp or crab but ate all the rest of the sushi, and wolfed down the lefse. I went to her house for Chanukah to light candles, have a glass of wine, eat and play games (mainly dreidel) with her grandmother being in charge of everything and everyone. I always got a Chanukah present there. Our parents thought it was a good thing for us to be able to celebrate both holidays. Her grandmother was a Holocaust Survivor and thought it was really important that I was part Jewish (1/16th but on the male side so it doesn't really count) and needed to learn more about that part of my background. My great grandmother thought it was important that all of us kids get baptized as Lutherans so we wouldn't burn in hell if we died, but after that she was completely relaxed about religion. Whatever, it worked out...
                                                                    I'm getting hungry now just thinking about Christmas Eve! :-)