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Christmas Dinner- I'd really appreciate your thoughts

Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or AffliatedDon't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
edited December 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a small problem. I have gradually started, this past year, cooking meals for my family.

I'm still an amateur, however, I've become very confident in making delicious roasts with pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. I was planning on attempting a roast of a crown of lamb for the reunion, until I learned today, that my father will not "eat cute adolescent animals".

I really desire to cook a great, memorable meal when my entire family drives in on Christmas. It's silly, but it's really has become a big wish for me.

I currently reside in a modern populated city along the Ohio River in Kentucky, & I was wondering what I should attempt to cook instead.

The appeal of the lamb, was that it was a meat that I had never worked with before, while having a great reputation as a roast. Are there any other meats that roasts well - that a schmuck in Kentucky could acquire?

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Posts

  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm not sure I'd try something I've never cooked before for Christmas dinner. If you go with lamb, maybe it out once before hand.

    Corvus on
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  • Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or Affliated Don't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm probably a bit over confident when it comes to cooking, but that sounds like good advice. I probably won't go with lamb sadly, but even if i did- I probably could only afford testing a leg. 2 lamb racks in only a few weeks would cost a bit much, haha. Thanks for the input.

    I figure that once I establish the main dish, I can then plan all the appetizers, side dishes, and beverages. Any ideas?

    Virgil_Leads_You on
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  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    You could try a beef tenderloin or a standing rib roast, but those are kinda pricey.

    Serve with a nice bernaise or au jus.

    Or you could get honey baked ham and serve some nice sides and dessert. Although, I haven't managed to source a decent ham in years.

    November Fifth on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Maybe go old school English and roast a goose and make a plum pudding for dessert. I want to do that one year when I cook for more than my husband and I.

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  • Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or Affliated Don't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Those sound great guys. I like the idea of the goose, as I doubt my family will have tried it before. On the other hand, the beef tenderloin and rib roast is fairly safe. Is goose a generally well liked poultry?

    Virgil_Leads_You on
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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Goose is a pain to cook, its very fatty, you need to cook it on a trivet and strain the fat off regularly throughout cooking, otherwise it will stand in a lake for very hot fat whilst it cooks. Goose fat is, however, amazing for roasting potatoes in. Also, goose is difficult to carve - its long and boney.

    What about a gammon? Buy it the day before, peel the skin off leaving a small layer of fat, soak it overnight in cold water to remove the excess salt, pat it dry, cut a diamond pattern in the surface, stud it with cloves, then coat in a layer of marmalade/brown sugar/honey and the roast, basting often. Mmmmm

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  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    are all cute animals out, or just cute adolescent animals? You could try rabbit (you'd need a couple to feed many people, I'd wager) out. I made it once for Easter :D but the recipe wasn't too great so I won't bother recommending the recipe itself

    ihmmy on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    How big is the group?

    Geese are a pain to cook but it's not impossible. The cook time is VERY long compared to a turkey, but it's also straightforward. Basically you poke holes all over the skin and then cook it over relatively low heat for like a week while the fat liquidizes. You end up with a delicious bird and skin that's like bacon, with no worries about the bird drying out. But the big worry is undercooking and having a bunch of rubbery goose fat you have to deal with because everyone's sick of waiting.

    I've cooked a duck and it's similar to a goose but easier, and it definitely takes a while. Ducks only feed 4 people tops, though.

    You mention pork in your OP and personally that's the route I would go for fancy. You could do a Kalua Pig, which is easy, although to do it right you really need Hawaiian salt (which is red in color, due to the rust). What I'm doing is pulled pork BBQ, which is a similar recipe. However, fancy hams are very common xmas meals and you could easily go all out and please a lot of people.

    What your dad said reminds me a lot of what my dad said this past thanksgiving. We were all vacationing together so we didn't cook a turkey, and while the meal we had was very good he said "You know, this is very tasty, but it doesn't feel like thanksgiving." You might want to consider that for your dishes -- are there traditional meats that your family has for xmas? I mention it because doing something "different" that's delicious is sometimes the easy way to cook for people. However, often a more challenging approach is to cook a traditional meal really well. For example the last turkey I cooked was really good, and I did two key things differently -- one, I cooked it upside down for the first half of the time (so the dark meat would cook and drip fat down into the breast) and I also cooked the stuffing prior to actually putting it in the bird (so it wouldn't delay the cook time and/or breed salmonella). It was done right on time and everyone told me it was a great bird, despite being the "common" meat for the holiday.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    EggyToast wrote: »
    ...and I also cooked the stuffing prior to actually putting it in the bird

    STUFFING IS EVIL! :lol:

    We've been hosting Christmas for a few years now, and kind off going off the correct thing Eggy said, we make a very simple ham dinner, but spend a lot of time making sure everything is perfect.

    I get a big city ham and use AB's brown sugar glaze. We do a couple of simple sides and it's turned out great so far.

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  • Kuroi OokamiKuroi Ookami Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I did cornish game hens one year for Thanksgiving, but I imagine they'd go well for xmas as well. It was my first try with them and they turned out really great.

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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Lambs a pretty polarizing meat--people either love the taste of lamb or can't stand it. Only make it if you're sure everyone likes it.

    A beef tenderloin, especially a stuffed one, is a huge crowd pleaser and easy to make for a group. Whatever you're stuffing it with can be prepared days beforehand, and carving just involves slicing it crosswise into serving portions. However, you're talking about an $80 piece of meat, so if you screw it up it really sucks. Also, preparing the meat itself is a little confusing for a novice--knowing what needs to be trimmed, butterflying it, rolling it, and tying it can be a little daunting if you've never done it before.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2009
    You could try using local fauna and eating catfish. Central Europeans consider it a delicacy and cook it like carp on holidays. Alaskan salmon is also good, but I tend to associate it with summer holidays (grilled salmon is traditional on the 4rth in New England).

    Scalfin on
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  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I did cornish game hens one year for Thanksgiving, but I imagine they'd go well for xmas as well. It was my first try with them and they turned out really great.

    I'm going to second cornish game hens, they're delicious and happen to look extremely pretty presentation wise. And some markets (depending on your area) will also carry wild game, like pheasant or grouse, which are also very tasty when prepared properly. Or you could go in a completely different direction and do something of a seafood smorgasbord, with clams and mussels and scallops, etc., all steamed or pan fried and delicious.

    Usagi on
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm probably a bit over confident when it comes to cooking, but that sounds like good advice. I probably won't go with lamb sadly, but even if i did- I probably could only afford testing a leg. 2 lamb racks in only a few weeks would cost a bit much, haha. Thanks for the input.

    I figure that once I establish the main dish, I can then plan all the appetizers, side dishes, and beverages. Any ideas?

    Rack of Lamb or Leg of Lamb are not the only way to roast lamb. You can get a variety of lamb roast cuts, though you might have to ask in a butchers or at the meat counter in your super market. lamb cuts

    For side dishes, I tend to have the same sort of things with most roasts. If you're doing poultry of some variety, stuffing/dressing is a must IMO. If you do a beef roast, you can do Yorkshire puddings, and for any roast you're usually going to have some sort of potato/yam/sweet potato dish. Options are endless there, roast, baked, mashed, etc.

    Veggies, depends on what your family likes. I discovered grilling asparagus this year and its a much nicer alternative to steamed asparagus IMO. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in the oven until tender.

    If you have a greasier or gamier meat like lamb, you may want to pair it with something with some sweetness to cleanse the tastebuds a little. Or its just a good excuse for dessert.

    Corvus on
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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2009
    Usagi wrote: »
    I did cornish game hens one year for Thanksgiving, but I imagine they'd go well for xmas as well. It was my first try with them and they turned out really great.

    I'm going to second cornish game hens, they're delicious and happen to look extremely pretty presentation wise. And some markets (depending on your area) will also carry wild game, like pheasant or grouse, which are also very tasty when prepared properly. Or you could go in a completely different direction and do something of a seafood smorgasbord, with clams and mussels and scallops, etc., all steamed or pan fried and delicious.

    Or a New England Clam Boil.

    Scalfin on
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  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Usagi wrote: »
    I did cornish game hens one year for Thanksgiving, but I imagine they'd go well for xmas as well. It was my first try with them and they turned out really great.

    I'm going to second cornish game hens, they're delicious and happen to look extremely pretty presentation wise. And some markets (depending on your area) will also carry wild game, like pheasant or grouse, which are also very tasty when prepared properly. Or you could go in a completely different direction and do something of a seafood smorgasbord, with clams and mussels and scallops, etc., all steamed or pan fried and delicious.

    Or a New England Clam Boil.

    That's an awesome idea, but is incredibly messy and normally done outdoors, which really may not be possible for a Christmas party.

    Usagi on
  • Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or Affliated Don't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I will probably end up feeding seven, and I realize one roast probably wouldn't fill everyone up, but I'm planning to do a lot of side dishes. I've found this old cook book with some great appetizers and beverages.
    I have heard of someone being flooded with fat when cooking their first goose.

    Thank you Eggytoast for that perspective. That definitely makes cooking common meat more appealing.

    But yes cute animals in general are out, so no hare or deer.

    Virgil_Leads_You on
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  • CasualCasual Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Flap Flap Flap Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Roast beef and gammon are my favourites. Don't feel pressured to do turkey just because it's Christmas, my family don't particularly like turkey much so we started to make other stuff instead and have been happy ever since.

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  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    For Christmas we always have a large ham, sweet potatoes and baked potatoes, home made rolls and a bunch of other sides I can't remember because there are so many and they tend to change.

    Also, I'm of the persuasion that the chef sets the menu and anyone who doesn't like what I've prepared is free to have a sandwich while the rest of us enjoy the meal I've prepared. Be they picky children or adults.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2009
    Braised brisket?

    You could also go medieval and serve a boiled meat mostarda.

    Oh, this sounds delicious. As does this. Somewhat risky. You know what, just visit the site.

    Scalfin on
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  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    For Christmas we always have a large ham, sweet potatoes and baked potatoes, home made rolls and a bunch of other sides I can't remember because there are so many and they tend to change.

    Also, I'm of the persuasion that the chef sets the menu and anyone who doesn't like what I've prepared is free to have a sandwich while the rest of us enjoy the meal I've prepared. Be they picky children or adults.

    To be honext I'm with VoC here.

    I would suggest to have two meats (Ham as a second option) just to add a little variety.

    Blake T on
  • illiricaillirica Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I would like to throw in a recommendation for duck. A roast duck is extremely simple - just toss it in the oven for a few hours. It's not too gamey, and most people will like it. You'd probably need at least 2, though - there's really not a lot of meat on a single duck, maybe even a bit less than a good sized chicken. Duck also goes well with a lot of the "traditional" holiday food like dressing and potatoes.

    I also think braised brisket is a good idea. It's a little less in the holiday tradition, but can also be very good.

    illirica on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    If you go with brisket here is a recipe. I love The Pioneer Woman, all of her recipes are delicious.

    Elin on
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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2009
    Elin wrote: »
    If you go with brisket here is a recipe. I love The Pioneer Woman, all of her recipes are delicious.

    Or you could google "passover brisket" to get a traditional holiday recipe.

    Scalfin on
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  • KidDynamiteKidDynamite Registered User
    edited December 2009
    So maybe I missed something, but why are you not doing a turkey?

    They are relatively inexpensive (depends on how big) and I think they are pretty darn easy to cook.

    I like me some lamb though. Never had goose, and duck (to me) is a real hit or miss proposition.

    KidDynamite on
  • Virgil_Leads_YouVirgil_Leads_You Not on Any Podcast or Affliated Don't Even Own a MikeRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    So maybe I missed something, but why are you not doing a turkey?

    They are relatively inexpensive (depends on how big) and I think they are pretty darn easy to cook.

    I like me some lamb though. Never had goose, and duck (to me) is a real hit or miss proposition.

    It's just... I know that everyone in my family has had turkey hundreds of times before this meal. It's going to have to be dang good turkey to be memorable.

    I'm sure a good cook focuses more on what the diners would enjoy, but the idea of being (positively) remembered is just so darn appealing.

    Do you know any turkey meals that would really wow anyone over? I'd seriously look into it if you do, but I can't think of anything conceptually that really excites me.

    Virgil_Leads_You on
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  • toolberttoolbert Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Our family does a prime rib roast every year. I usually go with just a dry rub of garlic, light salt, pepper (or red pepper), paprika and somtimes italian seasonings if I'm in the mood. I learned one tip that works pretty well when cooking it. Turn the oven up to like 500 or higher (just not Broil) and cook it like that for 5 minutes per pound. Then when the time is up, turn the oven off and let it sit in there for about 2 hours and it would be medium rare. Half an hour to an hour longer it'll be like medium on the outside and medium rare in the middle. I usually go that route and it makes meat for all those who like both types of cooked beef. Roast potatoes and some greens make for a great meal!

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  • MrIamMeMrIamMe Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm making roast duck

    EDIT: Maybe a beef wellington? They aren't too hard, are quite tasty, and look impressive as hell.

    PM me if you want either recepie.

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  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Getting a good enough quality of beef for a large group for Wellington is going to be a bit expensive.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'd recommend going for duck, especially if people like dark meat. A couple of recommendations:

    One 5 pound duck will feed about 2-3 people. They have less meat on them than you'd think.
    You can get around the fat smoking in the oven during a roast by braising/steaming the duck first and then doing a quick finish roast in the oven to crisp up the skin. This also has the advantage of being able to most of the cooking time on the duck the night before and then taking only 30 minutes to finish them up.

    Kakodaimonos on
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