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 you’re serving a crowd, planning for leftovers or simply making dinner for two, there’s an option that will suit your plans for Christmastime company and dazzle the loved ones at your holiday table.
Executive Chef, Del Frisco’s 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.
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“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.
Executive Chef, Cacharel Restaurant
Born 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.
Sous-Chef, The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge
For folks who don’t have a houseful to feed or those uninterested in a week’s 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 Lili’s Bistro and LightCatcher Winery & Bistro. “I go home and visit my parents for Christmas dinner and it’s the three of us. With the game hens, we don’t have leftovers and it’s very special. It’s a crowd pleaser, and it’s easy. Just put them in the oven and ignore them.”
Hogan’s 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.
Executive Chef, Max’s Wine Dive
“I like to serve things that aren’t necessarily the norm for the holiday table,” says Stefon Rishel, the ambitious young chef leading the kitchen at Fort Worth’s new Max’s 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.