The Three Meals of Christmas

The tree will be fresh cut, the decorations will be nature or music inspired, the wreath my Grandma made will be hung, the nutcrackers shall increase in number, and books and music will rule the gifts.

While I schedule like a pro, I am not big on planning too far ahead for meals. It’s more fun to think about what I want to eat that day and make it! But, as stores are closed or have limited hours, holidays are a different story. And so, I plan, chat with my favorite butcher at the meat market, and shop accordingly.

Fortunately, it’s really quite easy to create a list of meals for our family’s traditional Three Meals of Christmas. Tradition is the buzz word in that sentence. I am allowed a certain amount of experimentation, but the food tradition basics, just like the decorative elements, must remain the same. I’ve come to terms with this and gradually tweaked the menu to make me happy to repeat it.

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Italian Sausage Stuffing

Italian Sausage StuffingIngredients:

1(1 lb) loaf Italian (or French) bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 oz pancetta
1 stick butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 t dried poultry seasoning
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded or grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Read More


Sunday Oxtail Gravy

oxtail dinner“Does she still make that incredible oxtail gravy?!” This question came from a friend who had moved to Alaska about 25 years ago. It’s been a long time, but he still remembers one particular meal at our home that included this rich savory sauce.

Ingredients:

2 full large heads of garlic, (about 30-35) cloves separated, roasted, peeled, cloves left whole
2 T vegetable oil, or your favorite high heat oil
4 lbs oxtails
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 (28 oz) cans Italian or plum tomatoes, hand squished
1 (10-15 oz) can tomato puree, different brands will have different weights
8 oz good imported Italian tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup full bodied red wine such as a good zinfandel or tawny port
1 large handful fresh basil (24 leaves minimum), rinsed, dried, large leaves torn in half
1 bay leaf
3 T dark brown sugar, packed
2 T plus 1 t dried garlic (yes, more garlic)
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
2 t dried thyme
1 1/2 t fennel seed, lightly ground with mortar and pestle
1 1/2 t dried crushed rosemary
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground white pepper
Tabasco sauce to taste, start with 4-6 shakes of the jar
2 T flat Italian parsley, rinsed, dried, and chopped
1 lb sturdy pasta such as ziti, rigatoni, or those lovely little wagon wheels cooked al dente
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Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts

carbonara with brussels sproutsIngredients:

3 oz pancetta, chopped
2 T olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
4-8 large garlic cloves, minced
10 oz Brussels sprouts, shaved
1 lb thin spaghetti
2 ladles salted pasta water (reserve a third ladle of water for use as needed)
1 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated
4 eggs, beaten
1 t oregano
1/4 t ground black pepper, or to taste

Garnish: grated Parmesan Read More






Mama’s Italian Beef Stew

mamas beef stew bowlIngredients:

3 lbs chuck roast or thick sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 carrots, peeled and sliced into large pieces
3 large white potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks
5-6 (2 pounds) ripe tomatoes, well crushed by hand
3 stalks celery including leaves, cut into large pieces
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 t ground basil
1 t Mediterranean oregano
1/2 t ground black pepper
Salt to taste
2 T olive oil

Optional: hot red pepper flakes Read More