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Chef Tips for a Stunning Holiday Main Course

December 18, 2013

Be it tofu or pork loin, most meals center around a protein and we would all like our holiday main dishes to be stunning! Here are some tips and ideas from VFN chefs:

"I grew up the son of a professional guide, so game was always a part of holiday meals. I really like a venison roast that has been dry aged and rubbed with salt and herbs and cold smoked before roasting to medium rare. Finish with a whole grain mustard jus, and you're going to have a winner!"

John David Palmer, Hen of the Wood

(Punky and Diane Rowley of Hollandeer Farm have shared one of their favorite Venison Recipes)

"How about Vermont-raised goose, roasted and seasoned with lemon, lime, thyme, 5 spices, Vermont honey and Vermont hard cider? It's one of our favorites for Christmas Eve or Day, or New Year's Eve, and the remainder (if there is any) makes an awesome ragu with fresh noodles (perhaps made with local goose eggs?) for a Boxing Day or New Year's Day meal."

Deirdre Heekin, Osteria Pane e Salute

"Any combination of these Salubrious Stuffed Squash, shiitake emmer risotto, marafax beans with smoked sea salt, oven roasted sweet potatoes or caramelized turnips, can come together to make a dramatic centerpiece. While you're busy using your countertop to prepare other aspects of your holiday meal, these entrees patiently prepare themselves in your oven."

Joe Bossen, Vermont Bean Crafters Co.

(Click for Joe's complete guide to making this stuffed squash.)

 A number of chefs suggested Vermont grass-fed, prime rib. Here are their different takes:

"For me, it would be (and is going to be) a grill roasted ribeye-basically prime rib done over charcoal with indirect heat. Our family likes herb and olive oil drizzles like rosemary, garlic and cider vinegar, but for the festive occasion, perhaps roasted cranberry with mint and maple. Yum!" 

Steve AtkinsThe Kitchen Table Bistro  

"I like to do a slow roasted grass fed beef standing rib. It has a dramatic presentation and feeds a bunch of people. I brush it with mustard and herbs and roast it on garlic bulbs cut in half and evergreen branches such as fir or juniper."

Doug Paine, Juniper at Hotel Vermont

"I've always wanted to do a gently smoked bone-in rack of local, grass-fed prime rib on Christmas Day. A simple rub of chopped garlic, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, and cracked black pepper to cover the meat and allow that to sit overnight in the fridge. Then I'd cold smoke it over apple or cherry wood at about 90°F for 30-45 minutes to give it some subtle smoke. Afterwards place it in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes to give the roast some nice color, and then turn the oven down to 200°F until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 125°F. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes and carve. Best prime rib ever."

Michael Werneke, Prohibition Pig

 If you're considering a traditional lamb dish for the holidays, here are two suggestions:

"In the winter, for the holidays Michael always does his lamb stew with polenta at some point. Super tender lamb meat braised with root vegetables herbs and red wine. It is delicious over creamy polenta served with a little fresh gremolata on top. What is great about this dish is that it can be made in advance. You can take a walk on Christmas day with the family as the lamb cooks and fills the house with amazing aromas!"

Laura Kloeti, Michael's on the Hill 

"For the holidays, I like to serve everything family style because it's fun and casual. I will do a Smokeshire Hilltop Farm slow roast leg of lamb with rosemary & hardneck garlic. After the lamb is finished roasting in the oven, thinly slice the entire leg of lamb and place on a platter to serve family style."

Martin Schuelke, The Grafton Inn


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