We all have traditional dishes and family favorites we enjoy preparing and serving every holiday season. That means expectations are high when we gather at the table with loved ones. Whether you’re handy in the kitchen or a novice, these updated classics from Chef William Gerstenberger at Crossroads Hy-Vee in Waterloo, will bring the oohs-and-ahhs every cook adores.

Beef Bourguignon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces bacon, diced

2-1/2 pounds chuck beef roast (cut in to 1-inch cubes )

Salt and pepper

1 pound carrots (cut into 1-inch chunks)

2 yellow onions, sliced

2 teaspoons garlic, chopped

1 750-ml bottle red wine

1 (49-ounces) can beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 pound fresh mushrooms

Preheat oven to 250 F. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan. Add bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry beef cubes with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear beef in hot oil for 3-5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss carrots and onions plus 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons pepper in the fat of pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add bottle of wine and put beef and bacon back in the pot. Add beef broth, tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer; cover pot with tight lid and continue cooking for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Combine 2 tablespoons butter and flour to make a roux and stir into the stew. Add onions and mushrooms and 2 tablespoons butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add to the stew. Bring stew to boil on the top of stove, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on one side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

Sage and Sausage Stuffing

2-1/2 pounds Texas toast, cut into 1-inch cubes (croutons will do in a pinch)

2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1-1/2 pounds Italian sausage

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspon dried sage

4 cups chicken broth

½ cup Italian parsley, minced (save some for garnish)

1 cup dried cranberries

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup dried cranberries

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Drizzle olive olive over bread cubes in an oven-safe pan. Add Italian seasoning and toss gently. Add a little salt and pepper and bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven; let cool.

Lightly spray a skillet with cooking oil or use a non-stick pan to brown and crumble sausage. Drain excess fat and set aside.

Place remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add toasted bread cubes, tossing gently to mix together. Pour stuffing into a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with Italian parsley or rosemary sprig. Serves 8 to 10.

Stuffed Pork Roast

2-3 pound boneless pork butt roast

3 cups fresh spinach

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup feta cheese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place olive oil in pan and sauté spinach; drain and set aside. Toast pine nuts (even the already “toasted” kind) on a baking sheet in a 400 F. oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and spinach and gently mix together. Cut the net off the roast and make a cut three-quarters of the way through to make a pocket. Or roll it up rolaude style: Slice pork lengthwise, cutting to, but not through the other side. Open halves so pork is flat; place plastic wrap over the pork and pound to an even thickness with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Spread mixture on pork and roll up, starting with the long side, jelly-roll fashion and secure with butcher twine.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pork cooks at 14 minutes per pound. Bake the roast until a meat thermometer reads 145 F, including stuffing mixture. Remove the roast from the oven and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 4.

Cajun Shrimp Casserole

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ cup onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup bell pepper, chopped

1 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ pound andouille or smoked sausage, coarsely chopped

1 small can of cream of mushroom soup

1 small can cheddar cheese soup

½ cup green onion, sliced

2-3/4 cups cooked rice

Salt and pepper

Hot sauce

¼ cup dried breadcrumbs (Panko)

1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon canola oil and “sweat” onions, celery and bell pepper (the trinity). Add sausage and shrimp. Pull off the flame when shrimp are slightly pink. The shrimp will finish cooking in the oven.

Pour shrimp, sausage and trinity into a bowl and set aside. Add green onion, soups and cooked rice, salt and pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce. Mix together. Spray a non-stick casserole dish lightly with oil. Spread shrimp and sausage mixture into dish. Toss bread crumbs in melted butter and sprinkle evenly atop the casserole Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with biscuits. Serves 8 to 10.

Super Simple Oyster Stew

2 pints select or standard oysters, shucked with juice.

4 tablespoons butter

3 cups milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 or 2 dashes hot sauce, optional

Salt and pepper, to taste

Minced parsley, sliced chives or green onions for garnish

Drain oysters, reserve liquid. Strain liquid through fine strainer to remove any sand. In large

skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add oysters and very gently simmer for 2 to 4 minutes

or until edges of oysters begin to curl. While oysters are simmering, in a separate saucepan over low heat, slowly heat the milk, cream and reserved oyster liquid. Do not boil.

When oysters are cooked, slowly add hot milk mixture to oysters, stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Serve in warm soup bowls, with your choice of garnish and oyster crackers. Serves 6 to 8.

Chef note: Do not boil the milk, and do not overcook the oysters. Oysters become tough if overcooked.

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