Holiday meals can be the most exciting time of the year - for some reason, gathering everyone from your sister's Duggar-like brood to your pull-my-finger uncle Ted in the same place can make for some interesting moments. But they're also a time for families to share meals, recipes and traditions. In this spirit, we've asked a few of Central Oregon's best chefs to share their favorite holiday recipes. From dishes passed down through generations to new classics, these are show-stoppers we can guarantee will keep everyone happy - well, at least until uncle Ted gets into the spiced eggnog.
Bacalhau with Onions, Potatoes and Fennel
From Jennifer McCrystal, Jen's Garden, 403 East Hood Ave, Sisters
This recipe, passed down from McCrystal's Yugoslavian grandmother, has been a side-dish staple at McCrystal's holiday table for as long as she can remember. She says that bacalhau (salt cod), a salty, pungent dried fish, can be found at Newport Market and must be soaked in cold water overnight to remove saltiness.
1 1/2 pounds salt cod
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup diced tomatoes
(drained if particularly juicy)
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds waxy potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cooked until tender
4 hard-boiled eggs
10 black olives
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Soak the cod in cold water, covered for 24-36 hours, changing the water occasionally. Drain.
Flake the cod into small pieces, removing any bones. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly golden, about 6 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a medium ovenproof casserole dish with 1 tsp of olive oil.
Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
Spread half of the potatoes over the bottom of the prepared dish.
Sprinkle half of the salt cod over the potatoes.
Top with the onion mixture.
Top with the diced tomatoes.
Top w/remaining salt cod.
Place another layer of potatoes over the top of the cod.
Drizzle the entire pan w/the remaining cup of oil.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden.
Garnish with the sliced eggs, olives and parsley.
From Jamie Cetola, pastry chef, The Oxford Hotel, 10 NW Minnesota Ave.
For the pumpkin mousse:
8oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
Stir spices into the pumpkin puree. Cream together with the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar. Set aside pumpkin cheese mixture. Whip heavy cream until the soft peak stage and then fold into the pumpkin cheese mixture. Place into the fridge until ready to use.
For ladyfinger batter:
(If you don't wish to make your own ladyfingers, you can use store bought ones instead.).
3 oz cornstarch
3 oz flour
6 eggs, separated
6 oz sugar
Sift cornstarch and flour together, set aside.
Whip egg yolks and half of the sugar together until they quadruple in size. They should thicken and be light yellow. Set aside.
Whip egg whites until frothy and slowly add the remaining sugar until you have a meringue with medium peaks.
Fold dry ingredients into the yolk mixture and then fold in meringue. Put the finished batter into a piping bag. Pipe ladyfingers a half-inch apart on parchment-lined sheet trays and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
1 cup of coffee or
espresso1 oz. kahlua (optional)
Whipped cream topping:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
whip together until you have soft peaks.
Place a single layer of ladyfingers on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Using a pastry brush, dab on coffee mixture until the cake is soaked. Spread half of the pumpkin mousse evenly on top. Dust with cocoa powder and repeat. Top with one more layer of coffee soaked ladyfingers and then whipped cream. Chill for a few hours and dust with more cocoa powder before serving.
Red Wine Chili-Braised Pork Tamales
From Jeff Hunt, Spork, sporkbend.com
While Chef Hunt says his holiday memories involve "mysterious casseroles involving cream of mushroom soup," he began making tamales during holidays with friends. And, as he says, "Even when you're a bad kid - as I usually am - and Santa brings you coal, you still have something to open."
For the tamales:
24 dried cornhusks
2 cups yellow corn kernels
1 ear yellow corn grated
2 tbsp of milky liquid from the grated corn
3 tbsp of softened unsalted butter
2/3 to 1 cup stone ground yellow corn meal
salt and pepper to taste
For the pork filling:
2 lbs pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic
2 chipotle chilies
1 toasted seeded guajillo chili
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 bottle cheap Spanish red wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
For cooking the tamales:
1 tsp toasted cumin seed
1 tsp white pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
To make the filling (can be done days in advance):
Heat oil in roasting pan and season the roast with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, sear the roast until browned on all sides.
Remove roast from pan and add onions, celery, green pepper, garlic, chipotles and guajillo and cook until softened. Add tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the half-bottle of red wine while drinking the other half. Bring to a simmer and return pork the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and place in a 350-degree oven
Cook the roast at 350 for one-hour, then reduce heat to 250 degrees and cook until tender - at least three hours.
Once tender, shred the pork using a pair of tongs or a couple of forks.
To prepare the tamales:
Place the husks in a bowl of cold water and let soak until soft, about two hours.
Puree the corn, the reserved liquid, and butter until smooth. Work in the cornmeal until you have a firm yet moist dough.
Stir in the pork filling.
Place a cornhusk on a counter with the tapered end facing you and place a few heaping tablespoons of the corn mixture in the center of the top half of the cornhusk. Fold the tapered end over the filling.
Place another cornhusk on the counter with the tapered end facing away from you. Place the filled husk in the center of the bottom half of the second husk and fold the tapered end over the bottom to encase the tamale. Using a 12-inch piece of butcher twine, tie the tamales up, making sure to completely encase the filling.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add the cumin, white pepper, bay leaf, and salt. Add the tamales, cover, and simmer for one hour.
To serve, drain the tamales in a colander and cut the strings. Unwrap the little Christmas gift that is the tamale and put in mouth.