Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Dinner Menu

Riesling Onion Soup with Herbed Croutons
Brined Roast Chicken with Wine Jus
Green Beans with Almonds
Classic Mashed Potatoes
Creme Brulee

    Riesling Onion Soup with Herbed Croutons

    • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
    • 4 large yellow onions, about 2 lb. total, thinly
    • 2 leeks, including pale green tops, sliced
    • 1 garlic clove, chopped
    • 2 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
    • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups Riesling
    • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

    For Herbed Croutons:
    • 1/2 baguette, thinly sliced
    • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 Tbs. chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as
        tarragon, rosemary, thyme and flat-leaf
       parsley, in any combination
    • 1/2 lb. Italian fontina cheese, cut into
        small cubes

    In a large, wide saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and tarragon and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes more. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock, return to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 45 minutes. (The soup can be made up to this point up to 24 hours in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat gently before continuing.) Season with salt and pepper.

    To make the herbed croutons, preheat an oven to 300°F.

    Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, butter and herbs. Lightly coat each bread slice on both sides with the oil mixture. Toast the bread in the oven, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. (The croutons can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored, tightly covered, at room temperature.)

    Preheat a broiler.

    Arrange individual ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into the bowls. Top each serving with 2 or 3 croutons and an equal amount of the cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler 7 inches from the heat source and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove from the broiler and serve immediately. Serves 6.
    Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Entertaining, by George Dolese (Oxmoor House, 2004).

    Brined Roast Chicken with Wine Jus

    • 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup iodized or plain salt
    • 1 quart hot water
    • 3 quarts cold water
    • 1 chicken, about 6 1/2 lb., giblets reserved for
        another use
    • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
    • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
    • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
    • 1 small celery stalk, coarsely chopped

    For the Wine Jus:
    • 1/2 cup crisp, dry white wine, such as Sauvignon
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 1 Tbs. chilled unsalted butter
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

    In a plastic container or stainless-steel bowl large enough to hold the chicken, stir and dissolve the salt in the hot water. Add the cold water and stir. Rinse the chicken, then submerge it in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, the longer the better.

    Preheat an oven to 400°F.

    Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub with the butter and season inside and out with pepper. Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs in the cavity.

    Place the chicken on its side on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken on its other side and roast for 30 minutes more. Turn the chicken on its back and place the onion, carrot and celery in the cavity. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F, about 45 minutes more. Pour the juices from the chicken cavity into the pan and transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, make the wine jus. Strain the cooking juices into a bowl. Skim off any visible fat from the surface and pour the juices back into the roasting pan. Set the pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the stock and boil until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the jus into a sauceboat.

    Carve the chicken and serve hot with the wine jus.
    Serves 6 to 8.

    Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

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