Pure & Simple Christmas Dinner Recipes

For a delicious Christmas dinner, rely on fresh, seasonal, locally grown ingredients. Here, Michel Nischan, a James Beard award-winning chef and Connecticut restaurateur, shares his favorite recipes. Try them all -- or incorporate a few into your traditional holiday meal.


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Baked Fresh Ham with Cherry Glaze
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, December 2008
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Baked Fresh Ham with Cherry Glaze

    A gorgeous cherry-glazed ham is the centerpiece of this pure and simple Christmas dinner menu. For a unique twist, try fresh pork shoulder instead.

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Leek and Root Vegetable Gratin

    This hearty side dish features rutabaga, two kinds of potatoes, and parsnips with a medley of fresh herbs and leeks. Winter leeks are stronger in flavor and texture than summer leeks -- but any variety from your supermarket will work.

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Skillet-Browned Broccoli with Pan-Toasted Garlic

    This quick and easy side dish takes just 30 minutes to make -- and it requires only five ingredients. Toasting the garlic makes it sharp and flavorful.

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Spicy Honey-Roasted Cauliflower

    This nontraditional side dish is sure to dazzle your guests. For seasoning, use fresh herbs lingering in your garden, what's on sale at the market, or parsley from the fridge.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

    This rich and creamy side dish is versatile: You can combine the roasted chestnuts with pumpkin or your favorite variety of squash. For an extra layer of decadence, top it with homemade molasses cream (see recipe).

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Pear and Goat Cheese Bread Tart

    With its chewy bread base and fruit-cheese topper, this luscious tart is ideal to serve between the main course and dessert in place of the traditional cheese course.

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Pan-Fried Angel Food Cake

    This moist cake has a slightly nutty flavor from almond flour and a pleasantly herbaceous lemon-like flavor from Vanilla Bean-Verbena Sugar. After baking, it's cut into slices, buttered, and fried just until toasty-crisp.

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