Christmas stars: 3 elegant holiday entrees

 

Main dish

Holiday Pot Roast with Spiced Root Vegetables

For the roast:

2 medium red onions, quartered

2 medium carrots, cut into pieces

3 stalks celery, cut into pieces

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

6- to 7-pound chuck roast

Salt and ground pepper

3 cups red wine

2 cups unsalted beef stock

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

For the root vegetables:

6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium red onions, cut into wedges

2 small celeriac roots, peeled and diced

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the red onions, carrots, celery and leeks. Pulse until finely chopped, but not so finely that a paste is formed.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed large pot over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onion-carrot mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Spoon the mixture out into a bowl.

Trim the chuck roast of any very large pieces of fat. Season the meat liberally with salt and black pepper. Increase the heat under the Dutch oven to high and add the meat. Sear on all sides until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a plate.

Add a bit of the red wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Return the browned vegetable mixture to the pot along with the rest of the red wine, beef stock, tomato paste, mustard, bay leaves, and rosemary. Stir well. Carefully return the roast to the pot, cover and place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until very tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the roasted vegetables. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, parsnips, onions, sunchokes and sweet potatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and fennel seed. Sprinkle over the vegetables and toss again. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. After the chuck has been roasting for 2 1/2 hours, add the vegetables to the oven. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned and tender.

When the chuck is finished cooking, remove the pot from the oven and transfer the roast to a plate. Cover with foil. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves from the pot and discard. Transfer the remaining contents to a blender and blend until smooth, making sure to use caution when blending the hot liquid. Return to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to about 5 cups, or gravy thickness. Serve with the roast and root vegetables. Makes 12 servings.

Source: Developed by Alison Ladman for the Associated Press.

Per serving: 540 calories (22 percent from fat), 13 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 95 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 51 g protein, 580 mg sodium.


Main dish

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Thighs

5 ounces baby spinach

2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (8 thighs)

2 tablespoons crushed ice

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large skillet over medium heat, wilt the spinach until completely reduced. Let cool until easily handled, then squeeze any moisture from the spinach. Finely chop the spinach. You should have about 1/3 cup. Set aside.

Using a paring knife, remove the skin and bone from 2 of the chicken thighs. Place the thigh meat in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the ice and process until absorbed. Add the sour cream and pulse again until well mixed. Add the spinach, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, fennel seeds, lemon zest, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pulse, scraping down the sides, until well mixed. Set aside.

Arrange the remaining thighs on a cutting board, skin side up. Carefully pull back the skin, leaving it attached on one end. Divide the ground chicken and spinach mixture evenly among the 6 thighs, spreading it evenly over the meat. Stretch the skin back over the filling on each thigh. Arrange the stuffed thighs on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Season the chicken skin lightly with salt and pepper, then add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down. Cook until the skin is golden brown, then use tongs to turn the thighs skin side up. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until the thighs reach 160 degrees.

Remove the skillet from the oven and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring each thigh to a serving plate. Spoon any juices from the skillet over the thighs just before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Developed by Sara Moulton for the Associated Press.

Per serving: 310 calories (65 percent from fat), 23 g fat (7 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 110 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 0 sugar, 22 g protein, 370 mg sodium.


Main dish

Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

2 pork tenderloin roasts (3/4 to 1 pound each), trimmed of all fat

2 tablespoons packed fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons packed fresh thyme leaves, chopped

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and ground pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots or onion

1/2 pound mushrooms (cremini, white button, shiitake, oyster or a mix), trimmed and sliced

1/2 cup dry marsala wine

1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut down through each tenderloin lengthwise so that you can open it up like a book, but do not cut all the way through. Sprinkle water on the cutting board under the tenderloin and sprinkle a little water on top of the tenderloin (this will help prevent the meat from tearing when you pound it). Cover the tenderloin with plastic wrap and pound the meat using a meat mallet or rolling pin until it is about 1/2-inch thick.

Sprinkle half the rosemary and thyme leaves all over the inside of each butterflied and pounded pork tenderloin and spread the prosciutto evenly in one layer over the herbs. Beginning with the long end, roll up the tenderloin tightly, tucking in the ends (as you would a burrito). Use kitchen twine to tie the roll in a bundle, tying it every 2 inches.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the pork lightly on all sides with salt and pepper, then add it to the skillet. Sear until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the pork to a shallow baking pan, then roast on the oven’s middle shelf until the center reaches 145 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and cover loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the shallots and cook, stirring, until the shallots are golden. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give off all their liquid and are lightly browned.

Add the marsala and simmer until almost all of it is reduced. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring back to a boil. In a small bowl whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth with the flour. Add the flour mixture to the skillet in a stream while whisking and simmer for 2 minutes. Add any juices that have accumulated from the resting pork to the sauce.

Slice the pork crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Transfer several slices to each of 6 serving plates. Spoon some of the mushroom sauce over each serving. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Developed by Sara Moulton for the Associated Press.

Per serving: 330 calories (33 percent from fat), 13 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 115 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 39 g protein, 770 mg sodium.


Associated Press

You can always buy a ham or roast a turkey, but if you want to wow your Christmas company this year, consider our choice of three elegant entrees:

• Holiday Pot Roast with Spiced Root Vegetables

• Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Thighs

• Double Pork Roast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

(And if you’d rather skip the meat, check out the yummy roasted-vegetable lasagna on Page 5E.)

Beef

Flavorful, succulent, rich and comforting, pot roast done right is everything you want for a holiday feast. Another perk — especially if you’re feeding a crowd — is that it’s economical.

Alison Ladman’s recipe is designed to yield maximum flavor with minimum labor. You brown the vegetables, add the meat and liquid, then walk away for a few hours. Toward the end of roasting, you chop more vegetables and toss those into the oven, too.

The resulting roast is spectacular with the gravy made from the drippings and liquid in the pan.

Chicken

Our chicken choice boasts a secret ingredient: forcemeat — a mixture of well-seasoned, finely chopped meat, poultry, fish or vegetables that can be served alone or used as a stuffing.

In Sara Moulton’s recipe, the forcemeat combines chicken, spinach, low-fat sour cream and Mediterranean flavorings. It not only adds delicious flavor but insulates the chicken from the intensity of the heat in the oven, making it almost impossible for the meat to dry out.

You may wonder whether all the stuffing will fit under the chicken’s skin, or whether the excess will ooze out when you saute the meat. Don’t worry. Chicken skin is remarkably elastic. And the forcemeat firms up during cooking and won’t slide out.

Pork

In our pork recipe, Moulton enlivens lean tenderloin with high-flavor ingredients: prosciutto, fresh herbs, mushrooms and marsala wine.

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can prepare the roast a day ahead. You also can make the mushroom sauce in advance, then warm it up in the saute pan after you’ve browned the pork roast, which allows you to take advantage of any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan after the roast has left the premises.

This isn’t just smart time management, it’s good cooking, both the roast and the sauce will taste better if you prepare them a day ahead of time. And it'll free you up to prepare the rest of your holiday meal on the big day itself.

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