Goin’ Greek



It falls on me during the holidays to prepare a Christmas celebration dinner for family and friends.  Usually it’s on Christmas Eve – this year, it’s next weekend.

My original thought was to go Italian and cook beef braciole ( a.k.a. involtini) and a duck ragu with pasta.  Braciole is new to my repertoire so, I did some testing this weekend – everything was from scratch from the tomato sauce to the filling.  And the braciole came out…

Dry….really dry, like “I need to smother this with the sauce” dry.  I used a marbled cut of meat (shoulder) that can take a lot of braising (2 hours).  I did some internet research and one recipe recommended flank steak to counteract any dryness, but they also recommended cooking them in a jar of Ragu, so I do not trust that one.

I’m not a huge beef fan, so I thought maybe this was how it turns out – a bit dry, even after an extra day in refrigerator in the sauce so…last night,  I bought some pork, added some moist filling ingredients and tried again.  And the braciole came out…

Better, but still “meh.”  I would call it ‘good enough for a mid-week dinner’ but not Christmas dinner worthy.  So, with a week left before my dinner, I’m rethinking the whole thing.

How about Greek?

  • Leg of Lamb
  • Greek Baked Shrimp (for those that don’t like lamb)
  • Pastitsio (maybe with pork/beef)
  • Orange Scented Green Beans
  • Orzo with olives and tomatoes
  • Greek Salad
  • For appetizers: Keftedes and Spanikopita



Duck Procrastination

Every Christmas Eve, I prepare a pork roast for dinner.  It’s an amazingly simple recipe from Gourmet Magazine that produces tender, moist, fall-off-the-bone, porky goodness.  It always receives rave reviews.  My secrets are that it’s easy to prepare – combine the five ingredients and let it cook while I entertain; and inexpensive – pork shoulder is a steal! 


Unfortunately, after too many glasses of wine last year, I proclaimed to the guests that I would cook duck this year.  Actually, not a duck; I’ll need at least four ducks for our gang.  I gathered a dozen or so duck recipes in July, completely confident that I could hone my duck-cooking skills months before Christmas rolled around.  Well, there’s 19 days left before St. Nick’s Eve and I’ve yet to dance with a duck in my kitchen.  Does watching someone prepare a duck count? Out of those 19 days, I’m going to be traveling eight of them.

I have time for one trial run this Saturday.  One shot at making something fantastic for the most important meal of the year.  I’ve narrowed it down to five of the easier recipes, but still can’t decide on the best choice.  Which one sounds better to you?


~ Roast Duck with Dried Cherry Sauce

~ Duck with Honey and Lavender

~ Roast Duck with Port-Garlic Sauce

~ Slow-Roasted Duck with Olive Gravy and Garlic-Fennel Confit

~ Basic Crisp Roast Duck


I can’t decide!