As the holiday season approaches, we begin thinking about those wonderful times the family gets together and shares a sumptuous way-out-of-the-ordinary meal. The traditional family dinner at our house wasn’t as much about the menu as it was brimming with opportunities to gather around the table with loved ones to catch up, and share stories while enjoying a delicious meal. The centerpiece of the meal, (excluding, for the moment, the desserts), was a delicious protein, which was often a beautifully roasted bird.
One of our favorite memories of days gone by was our “talent show” the afternoon of Christmas Eve, when we would each perform a skit, usually humorous, because few of us had any theatrical talent. It was a fun couple of hours, and was a great time of family sharing. Afterwards, most of us were in the kitchen preparing goodies for that evening’s Birthday Party for Jesus. Good food and seasonal drinks lined the table as we held hands as we stood in a big circle around the table, each telling what we were grateful for, and then gave thanks before eating our fill.
To highlight your table, and delight your guests, prepare a bird that really stands out. One of the more colorful birds we have had good success with was the basted Tangerine Roasted Chicken with its bright orange tone created by the combination of molasses, tangerine and lemon juices, and a touch of Lemoncello. The bird shown here was a large one, weighing a little over five and a half pounds.
Birds carved at the table seem to please guests the most, because we eat with our eyes first, and watching the bird being carved stimulates anticipation and excitement. Another attractive bird is the Peppercorn Encrusted Roast Chicken. If you like crispy skin, you might like the stuffed Italian Roast Chicken which is roasted in a hot oven, and stuffed with flavorful herbs, orange wedges and garlic. Another eye pleasing recipe is the Roasted Worcestershire Sauce Chicken with Balsamic Glazed Hericot Vert and Corn on the Cob.
If you want something a little out of the ordinary for your get together, you might consider the spatchcocked Roasted Cornish Game Hens, the very flavorful Pepper Crusted Turkey Breast, or, the very elegant Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast that always gets o-o-hs and a-a-hs when presented.
Don’t throw that carcass out when cleaning up after your meal! Stick it back in the fridge to be used in another favorite dish that usually follows the next evening or so, Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Luck Supper made with the meat left on that carcass, combined with some fresh vegetables, and topped with sumptuous spoon dumplings. It’s easy to make, fills the house with wonderful holiday aromas, and delivers a very satisfying meal for the evening after the feast.
What are your favorite memories or traditions? What dishes make regular appearances at your family’s gatherings?