Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Dinner - Roberts Family Style

So because Abby and Art and Jordan and I spent Christmas in New York with our respective families, the Roberts family Christmas had to wait until tonight.  The meal and great time together made it well worth the wait.  Dad was in charge of appetizers and he gave us two family classics that are both good examples of Maryland food done well.  First we had a smoked goose breast.  For those of you who don't know, my dad is an avid bird (fowl) hunter.  He and his good friend Charlie shot several geese at a hunting club on Kent Island last week.  Dad put one of the goose breasts in a brine for 24 hours and then smoked the breast over mesquite wood chips.  He was worried the goose had picked up too much salt from the brine but the delicious gaminess of the meat was perfect with the brine.  To compliment the goose he took fresh raspberries, a bit of sugar, and balsamic vinegar and reduced them down.  Straining the seeds he added about 1 tablespoon of this mixture to some mayo to create a sweet and savory sauce for the goose.  An excellent start to the meal.


Next came a dish that is a Roberts family favorite.  This dish was created by my grandfather, Harry Roberts, hence the name, Oysters Harry.  This oyster dish is one that can convert almost any non oyster lover, except my mom!  This time of year the oysters are so exceptional, if you have any interest in oysters at all, make this dish and you will not be dissapointed.

2 dozen oysters on the half shell (we used Chincoteauges - they were especially briny and sweet)
6 strips of bacon - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
5 pepperoncinis - chopped
pepperjack cheese - chopped into 1/3 inch squares approximately 1/4 inch thick
butter - same size as the cheese

Preheat your broiler to high, move the rack to the top level of the oven.  Line a baking dish with coarse kosher salt or rock salt.  Cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered out but it is still soft, not crispy (the bacon will continue cooking under the broiler).  Nestle the oysters into the salt and place on each oyster a pat of butter, slice of pepperoncini, bacon, and top with cheese.  Place the tray under the broiler for 3 -5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.  Don't walk away from the broiler - the dish can burn if left too long.  Enjoy!


The main meal - Abby picked out the menu - but didn't read the recipes or understand the ingredients.  Understandably this led to a very slow and trying trip to Whole Foods to get groceries today.  Good thing we were all still happy about playing with a litter of lab pups this morning!  Despite our early challenges the meal came together beautifully with everyone helping out and enjoying our work.  Here you can see our pan roasted duck breasts, carmelized carrots, and sunchoke kale hash.  All served with Channing Daughter's Sculpture Garden wine - a blend of Merlot and Blaufrankish grapes.  

The main course - Food and Wine's Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Onions and Crisp Pancetta.

The duck was cooked perfectly medium rare.  The sherry vinegar in the sauce really helped cut the richness of the duck fat.

Next - Food and Wine's Sunchoke Kale Hash

Now shockingly, Whole Foods does not carry farro - a rich, chewy grain.  Wheatberries were a good substitute but note that they need to be soaked overnight prior to cooking.  Sunchokes were a first for all of us and we will definitely be having them again.  They look like a small potato (and they need to be peeled which led to much complaining from Art, even though I had already done 3/4 of the batch) and have a taste very similar to an artichoke heart.  Delicious!

 Last but not least, Maureen's caramelized carrots.   I had to request a last minute recipe for this one.

2 lbs carrots, peeled with a little bit of top left on, slice in half.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 heavy cream
1/8 tsp cayenne
chopped parsley 

Heat the oil over medium high in a skillet, place the carrots cut side down, add salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the cover, add garlic, cook for another 10 minutes.  Add cream and cayenne, let this reduce down.  Serve immediately topped with parsley.

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