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December 2012

Eat + Drink, Chef's Table:
Home for the Holidays
Written By: 
Marion Sullivan
Photographs By: 
Peter Frank Edwards

Five local chefs share recipes and tips for some of their favorite holiday dishes. Choose one, a few, or the whole menu for your celebration


Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Bacon
John Ondo, Lana Restaurant & Bar

’’Brussels sprouts are at their best in November and December, when the cold weather concentrates their sugars and brings out their nutty flavor,” says John Ondo, executive chef/owner of Lana restaurant. “They are little cousins to cabbage, but with a lot less pungent nature, and, like cabbage, a natural match for bacon and onions.” The dish of crunchy Brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, and silky sweet onions, all kissed with piquant sherry vinegar, will complement any meat in the holiday entertaining arsenal, from Mike Lata’s lamb to the traditional turkey and ham and Lowcountry favorites of venison and game birds.
(See below for recipe.)


 

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Cardamom Crème Fraîche & Prosciutto Cracklings
Kevin Mitchell, Culinary Institute of Charleston

“The aroma from this soup brings back memories of being in the kitchen with my grandmother and the many, dishes that she would prepare in December,” says Culinary Institute of Charleston chef instructor Kevin Mitchell, who credits these experiences with influencing his career choice. “I particularly wanted to make a savory soup because of the many sweet dishes on holiday menus. This one has only the lightest whisper of honey from the shallots and apples.” Bright with color and flavor, this low-fat soup can be dressed up even more with a soupçon of cardamom crème fraîche and sprinkle of prosciutto cracklings.
(See below for recipe.)


Oyster Cornbread Dressing
Michelle Weaver, Charleston Grill

Inspired by her love for both cornbread dressing and oysters Rockefeller, Charleston Grill executive chef Michelle Weaver delivers a side dish that’s sure to steal the spotlight. “I saved a step by combining the two, adding lemon to bring out the briny quality of the oysters and spinach to give it the Rockefeller play,” she says. “And I’m careful not to overseason, as most people will serve it with gravy.” The result is a perfectly tuned carol of contrasts: the celery still has crunch, the bacon is chewy, the eggs and cream form a custardy binding, and the cornbread is crispy on top.
(See below for recipe.)


Roasted Leg of Lamb Persillade
Mike Lata, FIG

With whole leg of lamb as his choice entrée, Mike Lata—executive chef and co-owner of FIG and The Ordinary (opening mid-December)—isn’t trying to get you to forgo your traditional turkey or ham, just to look at other options for capturing the holiday spirit. “We’ve become a little more French over here,” he says, speaking of FIG. “Lamb is my favorite meat, perfect for dining at home. Maybe we’ll crust it with a little persillade.” (Persil being the French word for parsley, a persillade is a combination of the more flavorful flat-leaf parsley and garlic, with crumbs when a crust is desired.) Mike recommends buying New Zealand’s lamb over Colorado’s. But if you can use the cuts from half a lamb, you can buy from Virginia’s Border Spring Farm, which Mike says is his favorite and the lamb he uses at FIG.
(See below for recipe.)


Eggnog Cheesecake with Candied Pecans & Cranberry Compote
Lauren Mitterer, WildFlour Pastry

Making eggnog the highlight of the dessert instead of the aperitif, WildFlour Pastry owner Lauren Mitterer dishes up the quintessential Southern holiday drink with its nutmeg nuance as a rich confection. For those who would prefer their ’nog sans brandy, or that their children not imbibe, she offers a colorful cranberry compote to substitute for the mascarpone cream but leaves the option to layer it with both. Candied pecans are so delicious you’ll be making extra batches to munch on once the cheesecake is gone.
(See below for recipe.)

 




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