“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…” This holiday music standard might seem trite to some, but it immediately rouses my senses. Hum along and the sights, sounds, scents and flavors of Christmas beckon: a fresh-cut tree adorned with miniature lights, a roaring fire in the fireplace, Christmas tunes on your playlist and, best of all, the aromas emanating from the kitchen.
From an Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve to a Puerto Rican pig roast to a Swedish smorgasbord, family holiday meals are as varied as each family’s genetic makeup. In my family, Christmas dinner is enjoyed on Christmas afternoon, and while the menu has varied a bit over the years, customarily we have feasted on either roast beef or turkey served with all the usual fixings of Yorkshire pudding (with roast beef), mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts, creamed onions and cranberry sauce. No doubt about it, a fresh-cut Christmas tree smells divine, but the mouthwatering aroma of a succulent, juicy roast in the oven heralds the holidays for me.
Our friend Cameron Prather put together a holiday menu for us that is as elegant and festive as it is satisfying and comforting. Classic roast chicken, potato rösti, winter salad with arugula, pears and pomegranate, sticky roasted carrots, red wine risotto with radicchio and pears poached in red wine and ginger is a dinner that is special indeed. However, this meal should not be reserved strictly for the holidays. Roast chicken will make any winter dinner feel celebratory. The mainstays of this menu, chicken, potatoes, arugula, radicchio, carrots and pears, can be sourced locally this time of year. Pomegranates, while not local, are in season.
Plug in the tree, stoke the fire, polish the silver, set the table with your finest linens, queue up Perry Como and preheat the oven—“for the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.”