Dishing it out for the Holidays

January 14, 2010

This time of year people pull out all the stops.   It’s the holiday party season. Caroline Helmly, who along with her husband Jack, host a wonderful holiday event, tells me of her secret recipe for her delicious Beef Bourgogne. “Four bottles of wine in the dish, one in the cook.” ‘Atta girl !..   A true Julia Child inspired methodology. It was delicious.

I’m still at a loss to understand why we only do this the last two month of the calendar year, but we do. No one ever lays out a Turkey feast with mincemeat pies and cookies at tax time.

My wife and I are blessed to be invited to break bread with our good friends and family. Every year, there are always a few dishes that floor me.  Some, amazingly good and some…lets say of “questionable cuisine”.  Every year I find one that I say to myself, “gotta write that one down”.

The winner of the Questionable category this year goes to my Mother-In laws neighbor, Tammy, located in Orlando, Florida  who found a side dish recipe in Family Circle™ Magazine and was nice enough to construct and transport it to Thanksgiving dinner.  It consisted of canned fruit cocktail mixed with a few cups of trail mix (nuts raisins dried apricots etc), marshmallows and a large amount of crumbled Reese’s peanut butter cups on top.  She then baked the concoction for 20 minutes. Even now, I am breaking out in hives. I can’t handle anything with Reese’s peanut butter cups on the same plate at my Turkey with stuffing, potatoes and gravy.  But we ate it, smiled and reserved the largest Tupperware for that item.

At the other end of the spectrum, these are dishes offer to us by our beloved friends and family.  It is my sincere wish for you to enjoy them with yours

Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Pan Roasted Chicken with Pomegranates & Young Spinach

My big brother usually finds a way to tie in all the aspects of cuisine; taste, appearance and plating. This dish just looks like Christmas. Getting the recipe from him is another matter. He doesn’t write anything down and he usually can’t make the same thing twice. But he’s got this one down pat.  I had to watch him make it then try it myself.  Any type of Poultry can be used. Guinea Fowl, Cornish game hens or plain old Chicken (I used one of the Ayrshire Farms roasters)

  • 2.5 lbs Poultry ( preferred Deboned. Ask your butcher to do it)
  • 4 oz  Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 handful Fresh Thyme leaves, chopped fine
  • ½ handful Fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
  • 4 glugs Olive oil
  • ½ tsp Butter
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 1 whole Pomegranate Seeds (just the seeds- skin and yellow pith removed)
  • 3 cups Spinach, fresh & young & thoroughly washed
  • To taste Sea salt and cracked pepper

In a bowl beat together the Ricotta, thyme, sage with a dash of salt and pepper.

Using two fingers, CAREFULLY, part the skin from the chicken pieces DO NOT SEPARATE. With a teaspoon, evenly stuff the ricotta mixture into the gaps under the skin. When done, pull the skin around the piece so it tight.

Preheat over to 425° heat an oven safe pan, add 2 glugs of olive oil and the legs and thighs of the fowl (skin side up) and cook for 5 minutes until crisp and golden on each side, Add the breasts, skin side up. Add butter, garlic and wine. Place in oven for 25 minutes, then add Pomegranate seeds, cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove form oven and place on stovetop and add the Spinach. Mix in lightly. To let it wilt just a bit.

In the bottom of the pan is a great sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper is necessary but it should be wonderful.

Plating. In the center of you plate add a small amount of wild rice. Place two pieces of fowl around it @10 and 2 and spoon the sauce with pomegranates and spinach all over everything.

Wonderful stuff..

Serve with these…

“Blow Out My Aorta” Baked Onions

This is a treat to have something like this on your plate at the holiday because you surely you can’t have these on a regular basis. Anything that starts with Cream and adds cheese. God love ya.
It’s a great, delicious, bad example. Pick a good size onion and be aware the tops and bottoms you trim off are to be saved and chopped for the filling!

  • 1 med Onions, (tennis ball size) White preferred, peeled
  • 4 slices Pancetta or Bacon
  • 2 whole Garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 4 twigs Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 8 tbs Heavy Cream
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 glugs Olive oil

Boil the onion in plenty of water for 15 minutes, remove and allow to cool. Remove the top inch from each onion, Chop the tops and set aside. If need trim the stalk end so they sit flat in a roasting pan. Cut a heaping tablespoon size out of the inside of each onion. Chop and add to the tops set aside.

Pre heat over to 400°. Heat a saucepan; add a glug of olive oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic and ¾ of the rosemary. Sauté for a couple minutes until onion soften a bit.  Turn heat down and add cream and stir in Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wrap and piece of the Pancetta or Bacon around the middle of each onion use and a toothpick of the spear of rosemary to hold it in place onions on your roasting pan. And spoon the chopped onion mixture inside each onion.

Bake in oven for 25 minutes until they are soft and tender.

Server with the above Chicken

Cider-Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Brown sugar and sweet potatoes are the perfect combination. Top them with marshmallows for a traditional holiday side dish.

  • 2/3-cup Apple cider
  • 5 large Sweet potatoes or yams, scrubbed but unpeeled
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Lightly toasted, chopped pecans
  • 4 thinly sliced pineapple rings, for garnish

Boil the cider in a small saucepan over high heat until it is reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
 Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain well.
 Peel the hot sweet potatoes, using a kitchen towel to protect your hands. Return the potatoes to the warm pot, add the cider, butter, brown sugar, and salt and mash until well blended.
 Garnish and serve hot.

 

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