Turkey is a given at Thanksgiving, but Christmas is the time for a more showy main dish. Center your meal around one of these stylish entrees that come from the personal recipe collections of local chefs, who prepare them for their own holiday family gatherings. Whether youre serving a crowd, planning for leftovers or simply making dinner for two, theres an option that will suit your plans for Christmastime company and dazzle the loved ones at your holiday table.Anthony Felli Executive Chef, Del Friscos Double Eagle Steak House Anthony Felli likes to serve this sweet and peppery prime rib on Christmas Day for his entire extended family, most of whom live nearby, he says. The presentation is impressive, with its thick-crusted coating of brown sugar, chopped garlic and cracked pepper, but preparation is simple. In my opinion, this recipe is people-friendly, says Felli. The ingredients are easy to find, there are no challenging techniques involved, and the end product is delicious. Most people really enjoy prime rib prepared this way.Chef-recommended accompaniments include creamed horseradish sauce, twice-baked potatoes topped with Parmesan and pecorino cheeses, bacon and tomato-braised green beans, classic tiramisu and, Felli adds, lots of great wine. Hans Bergmann Executive Chef, Cacharel RestaurantBorn in Munich, Germany, Hans Bergmann grew up eating roasted goose with chestnuts every Christmas, first prepared by his grandmother and then his mother as the years went on.Today the longtime Cacharel chef prepares the same recipe for his own family during the holidays. Scoring the chestnuts with a sharp paring knife might be the most complicated step. (There are chestnut-cutting tools that resemble garlic presses available online that can make this a bit easier.)But once the mahogany exterior is softened and the skin is removed, the warm, sweet meat is worth the extra time and effort for this special-occasion meal. Heather HoganSous-Chef, The Live Oak Music Hall & LoungeFor folks who dont have a houseful to feed or those uninterested in a weeks worth of leftovers, small birds like Cornish game hens are a nice fit for the holiday bill of fare.I come from a really small family, says Heather Hogan, an only child whose kitchen credentials include lengthy stints at Lilis Bistro and LightCatcher Winery & Bistro. I go home and visit my parents for Christmas dinner and its the three of us. With the game hens, we dont have leftovers and its very special. Its a crowd pleaser, and its easy. Just put them in the oven and ignore them.Hogans apple-cheddar-bacon cornbread stuffing takes her birds to a mouthwatering level. Use Tillamook cheddar, she says, for its bold, rich sharpness, which balances well with the sweet apples, and serve the hens atop a bed of fresh kale. Stefon Rishel Executive Chef, Maxs Wine DiveI like to serve things that arent necessarily the norm for the holiday table, says Stefon Rishel, the ambitious young chef leading the kitchen at Fort Worths new Maxs Wine Dive. He notes that his stone fruit-glazed rack of pork, which he enjoys preparing for his fiancee at home, is a festive feast that will keep on giving after its Christmas Day spotlight. The leftovers make a killer sandwich, he says, especially on pumpernickel or any other hearty rye bread, with lots of mustard, arugula and heirloom tomatoes.Rishel recommends rounding out your holiday menu by serving this dish with sweet potato puree, roasted cauliflower with bacon and blue cheese or braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and onions.
Cracked Pepper- and Brown Sugar-Crusted Prime Rib
1 6-8 pound rib-eye loin
(USDA Prime, if available)
1/4 cup cracked black pepper
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
3 cups light brown sugar
1. Pat the rib-eye dry and press pepper, salt, garlic and thyme evenly onto entire outer surface.
2. Press a quarter-inch layer of brown sugar to entire outer surface of rib-eye.
3. Place rib-eye in a roasting pan and roast for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 300 degrees.
4. Check internal temperature periodically. Remove once internal temperature reaches 110 degrees.
5. Let rib-eye rest a minimum of 20 minutes before slicing.
Chef’s note: Reserve pan renderings, strain and add to favorite au jus recipe for extra flavor.
— 812 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-877-3999, www.delfriscos.com
3/4 pound fresh chestnuts
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Carefully cut an “x” into the flat side of each chestnut with a sharp knife, cutting through the shell.
3. Place chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the meat can be pulled off the shell and the skin can be removed easily.
4. Heat the maple syrup in a saute pan. Add peeled chestnuts and butter and stir. Season with salt and pepper. The butter will thicken and glaze the chestnuts.
Red Wine Braised Cabbage with Apples
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon rendered goose fat
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced
2 medium apples, peeled, cored
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup of red wine
1 sachet filled with 1 bay leaf, 3
cloves, 1 star anise, 3 juniper
berries, 7 black peppercorns and
1/3 of a cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
1 ounce butter
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and
cut into four slices about 1/2-inch thick
1. Caramelize half the sugar in the goose fat and then quickly add onion and saute without browning. Add red cabbage and stir.
2. After 5 minutes, add diced apples.
3. Add vinegar, red wine and spice sachet and simmer for 1 hour.
4. Add red currant jelly and cook for 5 more minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat butter and add remaining sugar in a saute pan. Add the four apple slices and cook both sides until tender.
6. Place red cabbage in a serving dish and garnish with the apple slices.
— 2221 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, 817-640-9981, www.cacharel.net
Roasted Goose with Maple Glazed Chestnuts and Red Wine Braised Cabbage With Apples
1 8-10 pound goose, giblets and wing tips removed, excess fat taken out
Salt and pepper to taste
2 apples, cored and cubed
2 onions, peeled and sliced
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs sage
8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Rinse goose inside and out with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, then prick skin with a sharp knife.
3. Season cavity with salt and pepper, then fill with apples, onions, thyme, sage and parsley. Seal cavity with kitchen twine.
4. Rub goose with salt and pepper and set in a roasting pan, breast side down. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan and roast in oven for 1 hour.
5. Turn goose on its back and cook for another 2 1/2 hours until tender, basting with pan liquids every 20 minutes. (For a crispier goose, baste with salted water for the last 15 minutes.) Render 1/2 tablespoon goose fat to use in Red Wine Braised Cabbage with Apples. Let goose rest before slicing. Serve with cabbage and garnish with Maple-Glazed Chestnuts.
Apple Bacon Game Hen
6 slices bacon
1 pound store-bought cornbread
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 Honeycrisp apple, diced small
12 ounces chicken stock
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more
pats of butter for under hen skin,
4 Cornish game hens, giblets removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook bacon until crispy. Crumble the cornbread and combine with cheddar, crumbled bacon and diced apple. Add stock and butter.
3. Generously stuff birds with the cornbread mixture. Cut a small slit in one leg of each bird, then insert the other leg.
4. Insert a bit of butter under the skin of each bird, then season with salt and pepper. Bake for one hour uncovered or until golden brown and internal temperature is 165 degrees. Top with Game Hen Topping.
Game Hen Topping
1 sweet yellow onion, julienned
1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup white wine
1. Saute onion until translucent. Add apple and saute until soft.
2. Add butter and wine and cook until liquid is reduced. Serve warm atop stuffed game hens.
— 1311 Lipscomb St., Fort Worth,
Rack of Pork
1/2 cup sugar
1 star anise
4 juniper berries
1 sprig rosemary
1 cup white wine
4 Granny Smith apples, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
8 cloves garlic
1 7-bone rack of pork, chine bone removed, extra fat trimmed from top of the loin
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Remove pits from plums, apricots and peaches and chop. Place fruit into a saucepan with sugar, star anise, juniper berries, rosemary and white wine and bring to a boil.
3. Remove rosemary, star anise and juniper berries and puree the remainder.
4. Scatter chopped apples, celery, carrots and garlic in bottom of large roasting pan and place rack of pork on top.
5. Place in oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, glazing with the stone fruit puree every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 140-145 degrees.
6. Let pork rest at least 30 minutes before serving. Reserve juices from bottom of pan, strain and serve as au jus with pork.
— 2421 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-870-1100, www.maxswinedive.com