For our first Christmas together as a married couple, my husband and I spent it in Australia alone, away from both of our families and friends. While we missed our family traditions, we were surprised at how much we enjoyed the stress-free holiday. I’m sure the 80 degree weather helped a bit too. We agreed to spend at least one night together during the holidays focusing on relaxing and eating delicious food, so we had our own celebration on Christmas Eve this year. According to my mom (whose house I usually sleep at on Christmas Eve), that is not allowed to happen until I have children. Clearly, she was not aware of the beautiful steaks I had. And the fact that I hate sharing. And Nugget may be covered with fur, but I still dress her up in ridiculous holiday attire to embarrass her and entertain myself, just like every real parent out there does. So technically, I also have a child.
We started off with some seasonal beer we bought from Trader Joe’s. Adam loved it, I only liked it, so I switched to my old favorite, Woodchuck Amber cider.
A few months back, I had the opportunity to purchase various cuts of locally raised beef from a local farmer, and I splurged on two grass-finished (it is difficult to find 100% grassfed in Illinois)t-bone steaks.
When it came time to cook these bad boys, I remembered the steak episode from Top Chef Season Four (in Chicago!). Antonia (one of my favorites) cooked a steak for Rick Tramanto and it looked amazing. She seared it and then basted it with butter. A heart attack in a pan, I know, but omg. I drooled way more than a proper lady should over a piece a meat. I hunted down the recipe online (more of a technique, really), and did the same with my steaks. They were so meltingly tender and delicious, they didn’t even need a sauce on them. Earlier in the day, I threw together a quick potato gratin based off of an Epicurious recipe.
I have never made this from scratch, but it was so easy! I used my food processor to slice the potato thin, and then I layered them into individual crocks with salt, pepper, rosemary, butter, three cheeses (raw mild cheddar, parmesan and caramelized fennel). Then I heated up some half and half, poured it over, and set it in the fridge. It took around an hour and a half to cook, but I had already done the hard part of assembling them, so setting them in the oven was no work at all. My kind of recipe.
Finally, I made a recipe I found in the January 2009 Bon Appetit magazine called Skillet greens with crispy shallots and apple cider gastrique. It has several parts to the recipe, which made it the most complicated part of my meal, but it wasn’t really hard. I have never made a gastrique before (basically a vinger syrup), but it was pretty easy if you have experience making caramel or working with sugar. Caramelize sugar with a small bit of water (don’t stir it OR stick you fingers in, unless you like third degree burns), add in vinegar and red pepper flakes, stir until melted and cool. When we were ready to eat, I tossed the kale with the gastrique and bacon bits, and topped with probably more crispy shallots any two people should consume in one sitting (but they were so damn good!).
We ended the night with my favorite–a Muppet Family Christmas. A little more Christmas Nugget action.