I think Christmas deserves a special menu. Unlike Thanksgiving, however, there is no universally accepted Christmas meal. I understand that “special” means different things to different people. Some like menus I would consider to be “traditional” – turkey or ham. But, every family has a different tradition. My relatives in Rhode Island always include a pasta course in the Christmas meal. Some prefer to have the main event on Christmas eve, others wait until Christmas day.
When I was growing up, we always had a Christmas “dinner.” That dinner usually occurred on Christmas day, somewhere between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The timing allowed for a bigger breakfast than usual and gave the cook plenty of time to prepare dinner. The meal itself usually involved ham and all the trimmings – brown & serve rolls, salad, scalloped potatoes, zucchini casserole, jello mold (yes, I am a child of the 70s), and Christmas cookies for dessert.
Once my sister and I got married and started families of our own, Christmas became less predictable. The menu depends on who is hosting and what they feel like doing that particular year. When I host, I tend to make beef for dinner and this year is no different. Here is the menu that I am planning this year (follow the links for recipes).
Endive, Pear and Stilton Salad
Slow Roasted Filet of Beef (skip the sauce in the recipe; the beef doesn’t need it).
Mashed potatoes (I don’t have a recipe for mashed potatoes. Peel and boil the potatoes. Once tender, mash the potatoes with cream and butter until you reach the consistency and richness you desire.)
You will notice a couple of things about my menu. First, many of my recipes link back to Ina Gartin’s recipes. There is one very simple reason for that – her recipes are always delicious and relatively easy. I have made each of the recipes above and can say from personal experience that they always, ALWAYS, work. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Second, I do not include dessert. There are a couple of reasons for that. My son’s birthday is on Christmas so our dessert is always birthday cake. Separately, my guests always ask what they can bring for dinner. I find that people love bringing dessert and, because I don’t really love to make dessert, I tend to farm it out.
All images, except image of Spinach and Gruyere Gratin, courtesy of FoodNetwork.com.
Image of Spinach and Gruyere Gratin courtesy of RealSimple.com.