Every year at Christmas we try to do something different. Last year for Christmas we had a German-inspired meal. We always have several dishes that require more effort than a normal night’s dinner. My mom and I spend most of the day and most of Christmas Eve preparing for the meal. It’s small, just the nuclear family (though we typically have an honorary guest, this year a dear friend of mine from childhood who happened to be in the area, my dad’s cousin, and his girlfriend.) But the reason we do it small, is because we typically like to do something more intensive than what you could easily serve a bigger group.
I posted the Christmas Dinner Menu earlier this month. The only changes to that menu were that instead of the breaded Brussels sprouts we had balsamic glazed Brussels, we switched crown roast recipes though the concept was essentially the same, and instead of the mixed berry sauce on top of the panna cotta, there was a cranberry sauce instead.
I’m not sharing all of the recipes, I’m only sharing the recipes that I personally cooked or was involved because they’re the ones I know the changes we might have made. All the dishes are shown though, because you need to see the meal!
The star of our meal was the Crown Roast of Pork with Apple and Hazelnut Stuffing. Our crown wasn’t the prettiest crown there is, because there are definitely better butchered crowns, but given the store didn’t charge more for it than the cost of the pork chops individually, it’s hard to complain.
The brine called for a lot of salt, which we ended up halving because the recipe called for 9 cups of salt which is a lot. The problem was that even then, the salt didn’t all dissolve into the water, and frankly, all the seasonings in the brine really didn’t come through in the meat at all. All in all though, the stuffing was a show stopper and was delicious. The pork was really just pork chops, but they were perfectly cooked and yummy. I’m not going to share this recipe besides giving the link to the recipe we followed because my mom made some changes, but I am unsure what she did. I was in charge of the stuffing portion which we followed absolutely to the recipe.
We also had a side of Burgundy Mushrooms from the Pioneer Woman. My mom had seen this recipe and was very excited to make it. The flavor of the mushrooms was divine. The only problem is that the bouillon contains so much salt and my family doesn’t really eat much salt, so we couldn’t eat very many mushrooms without needing to drown in a glass of water. But the flavors of the wine, butter, and mushrooms was great. I’m also not sharing this recipe because it wasn’t made by me.
I promise, this isn’t just a picture post. I made sweet potato rolls. Mine didn’t come out quite as beautiful as those on Food Done Light, but the flavor was perfect. The oven I was using is a little cool I think, so I had to bake them longer than the recipe said. The flavor of the sweet potato is extremely mild in these rolls. In fact, if I hadn’t told you there was sweet potato in it, you probably wouldn’t know. The rolls were soft and even two days later haven’t gone stale (we finished them off tonight with a spaghetti squash casserole.)
Sweet Potato Rolls
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1. In a large pot boil water over high heat. Add the sweet potato for about 20 minutes, until soft. Once the sweet potato is soft, remove from the water and smash. Place in the freezer until needed.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, yogurt, salt, 1 egg, dry milk, and whole wheat flour. Beat with the paddle attachment, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to hold together. Add 1 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour and mix more. Slowly add more all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky.
3. Replace the paddle attachment for the bread hook and use the bread hook on the dough for 6 minutes.
4. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise for about an hour.
5. Deflate the dough. Tear the dough into 16 equal pieces. Place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Cover the rolls with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
6. Beat the other egg and spread the egg mixture lightly over the rolls.
7. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes at 375. Allow to cool.
* makes 16 rolls
Like I said above, instead of breaded Brussels like we had originally discussed at the last minute we decided there was a lot of bread going on, so we decided to make a simple balsamic vinegar sauce, roast the Brussels sprouts, and throw in some dried cranberries. It was a yummy addition to our meal. I would give you a recipe, but there isn’t one.
I’ve never made or heard of creamed onions before making this menu plan. I’m not really sure what inspired them or how I happened across the recipe. But I am convinced that this dish was the star of the meal. The onions get really sweet when you cook them as long as you need to in this dish, and how can you say no to sweet, creamy onions?
I’m not sharing this recipe since I hardly had a hand in it, but click that link above for a great recipe.
To end this meal we had panna cotta. For as simple as this recipe was I was incredibly intimidated by it and was convinced the whole thing was going to fall flat on its face. Luckily I was incredibly wrong. The panna cotta was delicious. But really, the process of making it was full of fail.
I made them Christmas Eve since they had to set in the fridge. I had sprinkled the gelatin in the bowl. As I went to go get water to add to the gelatin, I go back to find my bowl gone. My mom had loaded it into the dishwasher. Luckily I had more gelatin left. When boiling the cream, I turned my back for a second and the whole thing boiled over. Without me realizing it, it had also boiled over so much it had put the flame out. I didn’t realize for a few minutes and then had to resimmer the entire thing. I got everything into the molds and was sure it had failed.
Christmas Day I was surprised to see the panna cotta had set. When it became time to make the sauce I learned that all the blackberries we had bought to make the sauce with were disgustingly moldy. After scrambling around the kitchen I made the cranberry sauce with blood orange juice and honey. In retrospect I think I should have just served the panna cotta plain. The flavor of the cream was great on its own and didn’t need to be weighed down by any sauce. Also the cranberries were kind of tangy, so there’s that too.
2 tsp plain gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 cups cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 piece of vanilla bean 1 1/2 inches long, split
1. In a small bowl combine the gelatin and water. Set aside.
2. Over medium heat, combine the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add the gelatin to the mixture. Mix well until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
4. Pour into 6 1/2 cup molds or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
5. To remove the panna cotta from the ramekins, run a sharp knife around the sides and then flip upside down. Top with a fruit sauce (or not.)
* makes 6
What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?