If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, then imagine how wonderful it is to share Christmas dinner with one of the best chefs in the world. Our turkey dinners may rock, but these all-time favorite dishes sound perfect interplanetary!
For Emma Bengtsson of Aquavit, these are the meals she enjoyed as a child in her native Sweden. For Hawaiian transplant Mark Ellman, who has helped bring local cuisine to life, it’s Hanukkah with his biological family and Christmas with his restaurant family.
Daniel Boulud normally returns home to Lyon, France, and shares a wonderful feast with his family. Enigmatic chef Peter Chang remembers the Christmas ski vacation most fondly, with a cornucopia of completely non-traditional but sumptuous food. And pioneering chef Lidia Bastianich tells us about her legendary homemade dinners and potluck desserts.
Read on for a taste of their holiday traditions from years gone by.
“I go to my family in Lyon – my brothers, my parents and my children – and we always have oysters – the Gillardeau oysters, a special oyster in France, with a little caviar and a little lemon. For me, Christmas is the day you indulge yourself, and you eat all the things at the table that you wouldn’t normally eat at the same time. Then terrine of foie gras, with an orange marmalade or I create a chutney of apple and quince and toasted brioche. I bring American foie gras to France!
Christmas is the height of truffles, white and black truffles, so I make a classic risotto, so Italian – parmesan and mascarpone and white truffles. And a little truffle butter. This is lesson number three. And then, the roast goose! Goose, for me, isn’t the most fascinating bird, but goose is delicious, especially when it’s a little overcooked and the meat is a little candied. And with it braised red cabbage, cooked with orange juice. We make a caramel, with orange juice and cinnamon and star anise, then we cook the cabbage with the onion and a little red wine vinegar. I learned how to make cabbage like that in Denmark! If we don’t have a goose, we use duck, or turkey, or capon – we get an amazing capon in Lyon.
After that, is the cheese, a small brie, split in half, with a thick layer of black truffle inside. I buy two small medium brie, remove the crusts and mix it with the crust, a little mascarpone and black truffles, to create the layer. You do this two days before, so that when you eat it, the truffle really permeates the brie. And with that, a mache salad of field lettuce seasoned with a rapeseed oil vinaigrette.
So the dessert is the Christmas log (Yule log) with chestnut mousse, chocolate mousse and vanilla dough with cream inside, and of course decorations with meringue, a small chocolate Christmas tree.
All this goes with an incredible wine – generally a Sancerre for the start, then an Alsace with the foie gras, a risotto with a pinot noir, for the goose too, and for the brie I have a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and a digestif with Christmas log.
After that, we take a two hour nap!
“My favorite Christmas meal was when I was very young in Falkenberg, Sweden. We meet every year at my cousin’s for Christmas Eve. There were dozens of kids to play with and the food was amazing. The buffet was so big and it had everything you could want for a Swedish Christmas and the best part was it was all made from scratch with local ingredients and a lot of love. I mostly remember the meatballs and the ham. My mom made them really small and cooked them really crispy. The ham was covered with old-fashioned mustard and breadcrumbs before going into the oven, giving it a crispy layer. But I think my favorite dish and it still is today was his cream puff. She cooked it with the ham broth, then added double cream and pieces of bacon. It makes me hungry just thinking about it. We spent hours eating and in the afternoon it was time to open the presents. We had a neighbor disguised as Santa Claus and came to distribute the presents. In Sweden, we offer gifts on the 24th instead of the 25th in the morning. The good days when you still believed Santa was real. I know I had a very happy and happy childhood and it makes me smile every time I look back on those days.
“My favorite Christmas meal. Wow, I have to say it was at my grandma Rosalind’s. She was the best cook, however, since we are Jews, this was my favorite Hanukkah meal! Boy, she took him out of the park every time. From homemade gefilte fish, potato latkes, Aunt Rose’s carrot pudding, matzo ball soup with homemade egg noodles, to her wonderful creamy and decadent cheese blintzes.
However, my favorite Christmas The meal is when around 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve we invite all of our 40 restaurant employees to have the turkey, ham and prime rib with all the fixings between shifts. They’re playing Secret Santa and it’s just a fun, fun time. Nothing but smiles.
“My Christmas meals have always been spent at home with my immediate family, dear friends and a few extended relatives.
It starts around 2 p.m. when customers arrive in the kitchen, have a glass of Prosecco and a plate full of traditional Italian antipasti like crostini, marinated olives, Italian cheeses, prosciutto and more. The gathering size is sometimes 30 people, so I like to start with stuffed pasta like agnolotti in broth before moving on to a baked pasta dish like stuffed shells that I can make before and put in the oven.
For the main course, I love a good roasted pork loin stuffed with prunes and lots of seasonal vegetable dishes that go with it like mashed potatoes in olive oil, Brussels sprouts with nuts and marinated winter squash. Finally, I make a big buffet table and everyone brings a special dessert that I made with my apple strudel, nut clementines and lots of digestives!
The little ones are starting to pick my edible Christmas tree and devour the candies and cookies that decorate it. What follows after that? Lots of singing in the living room! “
“My favorite Christmas meal is a family dinner set at a cabin at a ski resort in Vail, Colorado in 2017 when I went with my wife Lisa and our daughter Lydia.
We cooked meals for several days and had enough leftovers to last long after Christmas. We prepared a variety of dishes like a five spice beef stew with potatoes, homemade meatballs with bok choy, a curry mushroom casserole, eggplant tofu with basil, a hot pot and ‘other. After a full day of skiing, everything quickly warmed up into a healthy and nutritious meal.
My Five Favorite Meals showcases the culinary experiences most loved by bartenders, chefs, distillers and celebrities.
The interviews have been condensed and edited.
#favorite #Christmas #edition #meals #chefs #Daniel #Boulud #Lidia #Bastianich