First Christmas dinner on our own

Hi all,

My husband and I are spending our first Christmas dinner on our own with our daughter (1.5 years old but very good eater and more adventurous palette than me!)

I want to cook something special and memorable, maybe something I can cook for years to come and make our Christmas tradition. I would not say "money is no object" but I am willing to spend a bit more because it's a special occasion. I'm an intermediate cook. I rarely eat meat so I have little experience with it but I think the occasion calls for meat, at least as far as my husband and daughter are concerned! They are dedicated carnivores. I guess I'm a bit intimated by "fancy" meat like prime rib or lamb or even ham or turkey. The most I ever made was a chicken breast.

What do you think? Any ideas of what I can cook? I'm not a expert chef but I read recipes really carefully and take my time, so I generally have good results.

  • Posted by: bridget
  • December 18, 2015


ChefJune December 22, 2015
Bridget, please let us know what you chose to amke and how it worked out! I'm sure I'm not the only one who's curious.
caninechef December 22, 2015
Merrill's slow roasted duck on this site takes a little tending but is about as easy as it gets and result is a really special entrée. One average size duck (~4lbs) would be perfect size.
ChefJune December 22, 2015
mmmm and then you'd have all that lovely duck fat for frying potatoes!
luvcookbooks December 21, 2015
Hi, I messaged you two recipes via the small envelope icon. Let me know if any problems with transmission.
luvcookbooks December 21, 2015
Hi, I messaged you two recipes via the small envelope icon. Let me know if any problems with transmission.
luvcookbooks December 19, 2015
Also consider pork tenderloin, super easy and good leftover, perfectly sized for your party. Maybe roasted puréed vegetable of some sort. They taste fancier than if they are just roasted or just puréed. Cauliflower and carrot is nice, can thin if you like with olive oil, cream or butter and add an herb like fresh sage, maybe infusing the liquid or roasting the herb w the veg. Watercress salad w fresh fennel, cilantro and citrus would be festive. A nice dinner roll or baguette that you buy. I feel very full now. Can you make apples baked in cranberry juice or pears cooked in red wine w some cookies for dessert? I am still asking the wine man for suggestions for special meals, but I like hard cider w pork. Eve'sCidery makes elegant apple cider in elegant bottles. My mom had a lovely recipe for saffron roast pork tenderloin if you feel ambitious, msg me if you want it. Such nice memories of when the kids were young. Have fun! Don't stress. Chicken breast also fine.
spiffypaws December 18, 2015
Cassoulet; it is so decadent and you can make it w/ a higher ratio of beans to meat
scruz December 18, 2015
oops, sorry, i read that your daughter was 15 y.o. and not 1.5!
scruz December 18, 2015
i agree on the rack of lamb, and i always get mine from costco. i trim off just a tiny bit of fat. two of us can split one rack so i would get two for the three of you, but only if your husband and daughter like lamb. otherwise i would do chicken roasted (or a capon) which can be the size of a small turkey since you don't do meat too much. make sure you have a good instant read thermometer and use it. i always liked a good sirloin roast done the way that the cooks illustrated meat book recommends at 250 degrees. you really can't overcook it. i just don't brown it the way they recommend but put it in the oven with a dry rub and it gets plenty beautiful.
Bevi December 18, 2015
Either of the meat suggestions will go nicely with a nice potato gratin, or this potato dish, which I love, and it is a beautiful presentation:
Nancy December 18, 2015
Another way to go at this is to make something easy and/or that you already know how to do for this Christmas, to take the pressure off you. Then during the coming year, experiment on other holidays or occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) with a meat dish you might want to make traditional for your own family and to foster memories in all of you.
You could make a nice roast breast of turkey, which is both festive and moderately sized, so good for a small family or group.
Or even your already-mastered chicken breast.
And for this year, dress up the meal with the sides and the dessert.
Whatever you do, have a wonderful holiday!
hardlikearmour December 18, 2015
I've made this before and it's delicious, pretty impressive, as well as reasonably easy:
bridget December 18, 2015
Thank you everyone! I am excited to give this a try. Sounds like I can't mess up it too bad...and even if I do, it will look like an impressive failure ;)
ChefJune December 18, 2015
When I read your question the first thing to pop up in my head was Rack of Lamb. It's the perfect amount of meat for you three. It's so easy. I like to spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard over the top and make a poultice of finely chopped garlic mixed with chopped thyme, rosemary and marjoram. Roast at 350 F. until you've achieved the degree of doneness you want.
bridget December 18, 2015
Thank you! This might be a dumb question but ChefJune how do you find rack of lamb at the store? Is that how it is labeled? I think I might need to go to the butcher, I have never seen lamb in our supermarket! It sounds like a easy and special thing to make!
Greenstuff December 18, 2015
Rack of lamb is exactly what I was thinking! My method is pretty much the same as Chef June's:

Trim the rack of most of the fat (or buy it already trimmed).

Mix a clove of minced garlic, a little salt, some rosemary or thyme, a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard and a little olive or peanut oil. Coat the rack.

Heat the oven to 500, roast for about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350, and roast for about 15 minutes more. It's done when there starts to be a little resistance when you press down with a finger rather than feeling like like raw meat.
JanetFL December 18, 2015
Bridget, ask the butcher in your grocery store where to find it - it is labeled rack of lamb. Rack of lamb can also be found in Costco, if you have one near you.
ChefJune December 18, 2015
Bridget: Yes, I'd go to a special butcher for any meat. Supermarket meat is -- please don't get me started! A rack of lamb is between 6 and 8 rib lamb chops all attached in a row. You cook them together, then cut to separate at service.
drbabs December 18, 2015
If you really want to make a meat-based dinner, try this:
Have the butcher trim the filet mignon for you (That's the hardest part), and follow the directions exactly so the meat doesn't over-cook. It's a very easy recipe and will serve you well for a long time. Good luck!
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