A Christmas Menu to Remember
A glorious standing rib roast with Hasselback potatoes, asparagus make for a memorable Christmas meal.
December 25th is nipping at my heels, which means it's time to start planning my Christmas menu.
I was born with an adventurous palette and enjoy experimenting with new twists on holiday dishes. But on Christmas day, I always serve a glorious standing rib roast with roasted potatoes, asparagus and horseradish cream sauce.
Though I relish a well-marbled juicy steak as much as the next person, for obvious reasons it's not part of my daily meal plan. But on Christmas day I savor my favorite cut of beef, roast prime rib, without a sliver, a shred, of guilt.
I've been a good girl all year long. A peek into my pantry reveals an array of foods that would make Dr. Oz beam with pride: low-sodium chicken stock, organic brown rice, pomegranate juice and extra virgin olive oil. But between Thanksgiving and New Year's, all bets are off. I eat my favorite calorie-dense foods with abandon and let the Cape Cod chips fall where they may.
For, as Scarlett O'Hara once said, "Tomorrow is another day."
But today I will throw caution to the wind and start preparations for my all-time favorite Christmas meal. And one thing is for certain: On Christmas Day, no one will lament, "Where's the beef?"
Although the dishes that appear on my Christmas table look and taste extraordinary, they're super easy to prepare. After a rousing late-night Christmas Eve celebration with my extended family, I'm usually bleary-eyed on Christmas morning. And so the food has to be fabulous without being fussy. Christmas Day at my house means relaxing by the fire, exchanging gifts and enjoying a special meal while watching the "A Christmas Story" marathon on TBS. And so a standing rib roast fits the bill. It doesn't require a laundry list of ingredients or preparations. Just put it in the oven, set the thermometer and that's all, folks.
Okay, not exactly. It does need regular basting. But basting isn't exactly heavy lifting and, besides, the end result is worth it.
Add an amazing tuber known as "Hasselback potatoes," tender asparagus laced with garlic and Parmesan, and a decadent horseradish cream dipping sauce to the party and all I can say is: Prepare to be amazed. This menu is so good that if I could have only one meal before leaving the planet, this one would be on my short list.
In case you've never heard of Hasselback potatoes, they're named after Hasselbacken, the Swedish restaurant in Stockholm that invented them. These potatoes are absolutely out of this world. Surprisingly, although they look fancy, they're quite easy to make. After they're peeled, the potatoes are thinly sliced crosswise but not all the way through. This way the potato still remains intact. As the potatoes roast in the oven, the cut surfaces get nice and crispy while the interior remains soft and tender. It's the perfect side dish to serve with a standing rib roast since it looks as though you went through an awful lot of trouble to make it. Whether you choose to spill the beans is entirely up to you.
Ready to make a stunning standing rib roast part of your Christmas dinner tradition? Here's how it's done:
A CHRISTMAS MENU
STANDING RIB ROAST
7 or 8 pound rib roast with 3-4 ribs
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
In a small bowl, combine dry mustard, sugar and Dijon mustard. Brush the mixture over the fat and the cut surfaces of the roast. Refrigerate the roast for at least two hours or overnight.
On Christmas day, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Set the roast, rib-side down, in a heavy, shallow roasting pan. Using a paring knife, score the fat. Season the roast with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast it for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 125° for medium rare on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the roast, cover it loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Note: Letting the roast rest allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat and ensures that it's nice and juicy. Serves 6-8
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Put the pan across two of your stovetop burners set to medium heat. Simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon until the juices begin to darken, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the all-purpose flour and cook, scraping up all the caramelized goodness, until the flour is a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Then add beef stock and bring it to a boil, stirring until thickened. You'll know it's done when it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and strain before serving.
HASSELBACK ROASTED POTATOES
2 pounds medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
Freshly cracked pepper
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Peel the potatoes. Slice a portion off the bottom to allow the potato to lie flat. Then, with a sharp knife, carefully slice each potato crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, stopping 2/3 of the way down. (Don't cut all the way down to the cutting board.) Arrange potatoes in a buttered baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Roast potatoes at 425 degrees F on the middle oven rack for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over potatoes, drizzle with a bit more melted butter, and bake for 20 more minutes.
Finally, sprinkle potatoes with Parmesan cheese, baste with the butter in the pan, and bake for five more minutes or until potatoes are golden.
HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons bottled horseradish
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly cracked pepper
Whip the cream to soft peak. Then stir in horseradish, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Refrigerate until serving time.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH GARLIC & PARMESAN
1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and pat dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Trim the stem end of the asparagus. Place on sheet pan. Add minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Toss to coat. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes until tender crisp.