Recipe Swap: A buffet of not-so-classic Christmas dishes

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas season came quickly this year, but as the saying goes, whether I am ready or not it will still come. As long as we are ready for the celebration of the Christ child in our hearts, that is all that matters. I wish each of you a merry Christmas and hope you can spend it with those you love.

Although many of you already have your turkey thawing or ham tucked away ready to bake, I thought it would be nice to explore alternative options to the traditional Christmas buffet favorites. I have included here a couple of entree ideas as well as a couple of side dish recipes.

Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork

This roast looks so elegant your guests will think you really fussed for them when you serve it. Be sure to remember to order your crown roast from a butcher ahead of time.

1 pork loin crown roast (5 to 6 pounds, about 10 ribs)

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Mushroom stuffing:

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup diced celery

1/4 cup butter, cubed

3 cups day-old cubed bread

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup apricot preserves

1 cup whole fresh cranberries, optional

Place roast, rib ends up, in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cover rib ends with foil. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms and celery in butter until tender. Stir in bread cubes, salt and pepper. Spoon into the center of the roast. Brush sides of roast with preserves. Bake 1 hour longer or until a meat thermometer inserted into meat between ribs reads 160 degrees. Remove foil. If desired, thread cranberries on a 20-inch piece of thin string or thread. Transfer roast to a serving platter. Loop the cranberry string in and out of the rib ends. Yield: 8 servings. Allow preparation time of 15 minutes and 2 1/2 hours for baking.

Roasted Filet of Beef with Whole-Grain Mustard and Herb Crust

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dried savory, finely crumbled

1 tablespoon dried thyme, finely crumbled

1 whole filet of beef (7 to 8 pounds, untrimmed or 5 to 6 pounds trimmed)

Vegetable oil for sauteing

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, olive oil, savory and thyme. Trim the meat of all excess fat and silver skin. Cut the filet in half to make two equal pieces about 7 inches long. You'll have one piece with the broad double-pieced butt portion and a thinner piece that tapers to a small tip. Tuck the tapered tip under and tie with twine to fashion two equally thick roasts. Tie each roast at 2-inch intervals. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat a heavy-duty roasting pan or large Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in enough vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Pat the filets dry, salt them generously, and lay them in the pan. Cook without disturbing them until the bottoms are a rich brown. Turn the beef and sear the other sides. It will take about 4 minutes per side (there are three or four sides per roast) to get a good sear. When the filets are seared, transfer them to a cutting board, brush them with the mustard and herb mix, and then generously grind fresh pepper over them. Put a rack in the roasting pan, lay the meat on the rack, and roast until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium rare, about 20 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes. Roasting time will vary depending on searing time.) Remove the filets from the oven and let them rest in a warm spot for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Oven Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Non-stick cooking spray

3 tablespoons olive oil or 3 tablespoons light olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 pounds potatoes, cut in half or fourths (red skin, Yukon Gold, fingerling)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with no-stick spray.

Stir together oil, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes. Toss well until coated. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown. Yield: 4 servings.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ham and Garlic

Roasting brings out the best in brussels sprouts. It lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside. Don't trim too much from the stem ends of the sprouts since they may fall apart.

Country ham imparts saltiness to the dish. If it's unavailable in your market, substitute regular ham.

Freeze leftover breadcrumbs for up to 6 months. Use them to top macaroni and cheese casseroles.

1 (1-ounce) slice white bread

3 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1/4 cup finely chopped country ham (about 1 ounce)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place bread in a food processor. Pulse 2 times or until crumbly. Sprinkle crumbs on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or until golden. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Set aside 3 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs, reserving remaining breadcrumbs for another use. Combine sprouts and next 5 ingredients (sprouts through garlic) in a 3-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray, tossing to coat. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until sprouts are tender and lightly browned on edges, stirring twice. Combine 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over sprouts. Serve immediately. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup).

Merry Christmas, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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