Family Style: Xmas Eve Eve Dinner 2012

Last year, my family kicked off a new Holiday tradition of sharing a meal on Christmas Eve Eve at my house in South Philly. With so much running around on Christmas Day, it’s nice to gather with just my parents, sister and our boyfriends without having to rush off to the next gathering. This year, Dre’s mom joined us from Baltimore and it really felt like the family was complete.

Someone, however, was missing this holiday season… my lovely Grandma. On December 20th, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. It’s still too fresh of a heartache for me to share very much right now, however the food love she inspired in me certainly shines through in this year’s Xmas Eve Eve dinner, from the Dutch oven I used to the trivets & tablecloth. I know she was there with me in the kitchen all weekend.

And so I present, my Xmas Eve Eve Dinner Menu 2012:

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Oven Poached Salmon w. Pink Grapefruit & Tarragon Sauce

Emeril’s Potluck: Comfort Food with a Kicked Up Attitude – Recipe

Cider-Brined Roasted Turkey w. Star Anise & Cinnamon

Bon Appétit November 2011 pg 94 – Recipe

Butternut Squash & Corn Bread Stuffing Muffins

Food & Wine: Michael Symon’s Heartland Thanksgiving Menu November 2011 – Recipe

Caramelized Onion Scalloped Yukon Gold & Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from two recipes:

Bon Appétit November 2008 – Recipe #1

Bon Appétit December 2012 – Recipe #2

Broiled Asparagus w. Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Sautéed Shiitake, Cremini & Buna Shimeji Mushrooms

Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Generic Brown & Serve Dinner Rolls

I’m only one woman!

I put the rest of the fam in charge of booze, hors d’oeuvres, & dessert once again. Dad & Mary Ann are always on point with their beer & wine selection. Im polishing off the final, and aptly named, Evil Twin Before, During and After Christmas Beer as I type. Kerry & Rich made mini crab cakes, citrus-goat cheese endive and classic lil smokies & BBQ sauce. Dessert was a selection of cakes including an out-of-this-world Yule Log filled with fresh strawberries that Dre’s mom brought and Kerry’s chocolate chip bread pudding a la mode. And another holiday feast has come and gone…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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To Taste: Chicken under a Bri… Something Heavy

My boyfriend has come to love food porn as much as I do, so when he sent me Pinch My Salt‘s step by step photo blog of Grilled Chicken Under a Brick, I couldn’t wait to get my spatchcock & grill on! Dre & I were both working late on a Friday night, and seeing that I already learned my lesson in grilling in the dark, I decided to at least get my meal prepped that night for a yummy pre-work lunch the next day.

When there’s chicken of any kind on sale, I impulsively pack my already stuffed freezer with as much as I can. I thawed one of the roasting chickens to make some space for my next grocery trip, watched this very helpful video on butterflying a whole chicken, & got to butchering! Call me sadistic (I’ll spare my veggie friends/readers from seeing the pics), but I really enjoyed the whole hands-on process of removing the spine & breast bone of my chicken so it could lay flat for its visit to the grill.

I picked some Fresh Herbs from my garden, chopped, & combined with Olive Oil & Minced Garlic for a simple chicken rub. I coated both sides of the chicken & marinated in the fridge overnight. I also peeled & cubed a butternut squash; to me, its serves as a starch & veggie side to any meal.

Spatchcocked Chicken w/ a Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, & EVOO Marinade

Spatchcocked Chicken w/ a Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, & EVOO Marinade

Grilled Butternut Squash with Fresh Herbs, Spices, & Garlic

Grilled Butternut Squash w/ Fresh Herbs, Spices, & Garlic

Saturday morning, we got the grilled warmed to about 350 degrees per the Whole Foods recipe that Pinch My Salt referenced. I seasoned the Butternut Squash with Fresh & Dried Herbs, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, S&P, Garlic, & Olive Oil and divided them among 4 foil pouches while the chilled chicken came up to temperature. When it came to grill time, I realized that, uh…  umm… I didn’t have any bricks! So the only troubleshoot I could come up with was a heavy, foil-covered cast iron pan, which proved to be a perfect substitution. The original recipe called for a 3-4lb chicken, but I was working with a 7lb bird, so it took about 20-25 minutes per side. I tossed the squash pouches onto the grill, too, as they were tender after flipping a few times in about 40 minutes. Towards the end of grilling, the drums of the chicken fell off, but it fortunately gave them some extra time to cook when the breast & wings were perfect.

All future birds cooked in my household will surely be spatchcocked & grilled, as this was the juiciest & tastiest one I’ve ever made. Looking forward to a Turkey Under ALOT of Bricks this Thanksgiving!

Grilled Chicken Under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled Chicken Under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled: Chicken Under a “Brick” & Herb Butternut Squash

Butterflied Whole 7lb Chicken – Rubbed & marinated w/ Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Minced Garlic, & EVOO, grilled under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled Butternut Squash – Cubed & tossed w/ Fresh & Dried Herbs, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, S&P, Garlic, & Olive Oil, grilled in foil packets