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Family Traditions: The Top 5 Most Served Holiday Meals

Dec 11, 2012 11:01AM ● Published by Erin Frisch

Family Traditions: The Top 5 Most Served Holiday Meals

With Thanksgiving just behind us and the holiday rush ahead, the traditional Christmas dinner is one of the most anticipated holiday events. Every family has special dishes that celebrate tradition; the top five, most-often served holiday meals are turkey, ham, Cornish game hen, leg of lamb, and pork roast. With these classic favorites in mind, here are several menu ideas to help you start creating new holiday dinner traditions of your own.

Turkey. Instead of stashing your turkey in the oven for hours, try smoking, deep-frying, or even roasting it over a hot barbecue grill. Another trend that’s on the upswing is brining. While the turkey is still oven-roasted, brining it overnight keeps the meat moist as it cooks. Try a flavorful cider brine, featuring star anise and cinnamon for a new, spicy holiday taste. Replace the forgettable standard stuffing with a wild rice, chestnut, and mushroom version, baked separately in its own dish. Made with veggie broth, it will be a hit with everyone, including vegetarian and gluten-intolerant guests. (To make it gluten free, check all ingredient labels, as gluten is ubiquitous in lots of products where you don’t expect to find it, including some veggie broths.)

Ham. Ranking second in holiday dinner traditions, ham glazes now feature apples and bourbon, peaches and mustard, and cola and maple syrup. Try creating a colorful spinach tortilla and ham pinwheel tree, or bake thin slices of ham around thick asparagus stalks as an appetizer or side dish. Pair with a sparkling quinoa and pomegranate pilaf that’s sure to be appreciated by those on a gluten-free diet. Bookend the meal by matching the glaze on your main course with a dessert such as apple-bourbon pie or peach cobbler.

Pork Roast. If you’re looking for an alternative to a holiday turkey, try a tangy, cranberry-glazed pork roast featuring sweet orange marmalade. If you choose a boneless pork loin roast, slicing and serving it will be a snap. For a side dish that plays well with those flavors, sweet but earthy roasted Brussels sprout halves tossed with baby beets and roasted chestnuts fill the bill nicely. Alternatively, pair your roast with a green bean and stuffing casserole that, when topped with mashed potatoes, manages to tuck all your side dishes into one pan.

Cornish Game Hens. Small in size, but big on visual impact and taste, Cornish game hens are stealing the holiday spotlight. Stuffed with rosemary and roasted simply with lemon slices, and then basted with a white wine and garlic broth, game hens make any holiday celebration special. A beautiful butternut squash and sage cream soup or a roasted corn, sweet potato, and leek confit would be a fitting starter for this dinner. Keep the theme elegant by serving a side of rich asparagus risotto. Finish the meal with a light, refreshing cranberry and mint sorbet for dessert.

Leg of Lamb. Give your leg of lamb a French flair by marinating it in a rosemary and thyme-infused oil, roasting it over an open fire, and serving it with a romantic drizzle of pistou. Pistou, a savory sauce made from basil, parsley, garlic, and olive oil, lends lamb a very Provencal attitude. Forget about the candied yams—a hearty pumpkin, macaroni, and cheese casserole made with crème fraiche, Gruyere, and Cantal cheese is the newest way to combine perennial favorites.

Keeping traditions; the top 5 most served holiday meals would end with a classic pumpkin pie. Mix it up with Buche de Noel.

Whether your holiday feast features classic dishes or new favorites, gathering with family and friends to remember special traditions will make your dinner a joyful and delightful holiday feast.

What is your family's favorite food to serve during the holidays?

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