My mom made us these epic German meat roll-ups, called rouladen, for holidays and special occasions when we were growing up. After I moved away, whenever I’d come home, she’d ask what I’d like her to cook for me, and my answer was always the same: ROULADEN. Poor Mutti probably got a li’l sick of making them—one year, she branched out and cooked us an interesting Mexican-inspired Christmas feast. It was “creative,” and the whole family was very “appreciative” . . . but we all politely asked her if, next year, she wouldn’t mind going back to rouladen. The older I get, the more I crave the comfort of the classic dishes of my childhood.
I love to eat this with spaetzle, a German, noodle-like dumpling. You can buy it from the store, find a recipe online, or call my mom and ask for her recipe.
When Vietnamese cooks stuff fowl for roasting, the dressing is often made with sticky rice. These preparations, which bridge Vietnamese and French culinary traditions, commonly include lotus seeds, too. My family prefers the flavor of chestnuts, however, which we simmer in chicken stock, butter, and cilantro. The presence of shiitake mushrooms and Cognac in this recipe illustrates yet another marriage of East and West.
This dressing is good with roast turkey, chicken, game hens, and goose. While you may stuff the birds, I find baking the dressing separately is easier, plus the grains on the bottom form a tasty crust. Shelling and peeling chestnuts is time-consuming, but this recipe doesn’t require many of them. For guidance on buying and peeling the nuts, see the accompanying Note.
This soup has a decadent richness that skeptics of vegan cooking are often surprised by (tahini can pull a lot of weight!). It also comes together in about thirty minutes, making it a great option for weeknights. You’ll notice that I call for water rather than stock; in this recipe, it makes for a better liquid, as it keeps the flavors of the soup pure and aligned. Frizzled shallots make an excellent, if optional, garnish.
My mom made this during Thanksgiving on year and upon tasting it, we knew we had to have it every year for the rest of our lives. My family and I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I think it was because it was the only day of the year (aside from Christmas Eve) that my parents were forced to close the restaurant early. We embraced this tradition, making every Thanksgiving meal traditional with dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. This green spaghetti (and our black bean puree) was how we made Thanksgiving our own, beginning a new tradition for our family that blended both cultures. I really hope it becomes one of yours, too.
To many descendants of America’s servant class, who at hog killing time helped smoke the very best parts of the pig or prepared those cuts for the planter’s table, a succulent, golden-brown ham is more than sustenance; it is the centerpiece whenever special occasions are celebrated.
Pistachio Semolina Cake
Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, Silver Lake
Once the choices are made for a feast’s roasts and meats, it’s time to focus on the vegetables. Brussels sprouts roasted with honey, apples, and marjoram taste almost too good to be just a side dish, so let’s view them as a fabulous cozy weekday dinner as well.
If you’re already thinking about your Christmas menu and pondering how to please your vegetarian guests, here’s a recipe that will put an end to your worries and make meat lovers jealously spy on their neighbor’s plate.
Braised beef shanks are succulent and tender. Although the preparation isn’t labor-intensive, it does take time—about five hours—to tenderize and infuse the marbled meat with vibrant spices and full-bodied red wine. If you braise the shanks the day before Christmas, the flavors will deepen considerably and you won’t be left with much work during the festivities. The leftovers make a wonderful meat pie, or a quick pasta dish: pappardelle with Neapolitan beef ragu.
Like cilantro and circus clowns, pumpkin pie can be quite polarizing. Some take a hard pass, whereas others can’t imagine cold-weather holidays without it. My earliest pumpkin pie memories involve trying not to stick my fingers in a store-bought Mrs. Smith’s pie on Thanksgiving Day, baked from frozen that morning and cooling on the washing machine in the tiny laundry room off the kitchen at Gramma’s house, while the rest of the Thanksgiving meal was prepared. By the time dinner was finished and the desserts rolled out, I was more interested in stealing spoonfuls from the Cool Whip tub next to the pie than I was in the pie itself. I became a late-in-life pumpkin pie convert, especially the homemade kind (no offense to Mrs. Smith), and have grown to love the simplicity and warming spices in an amber slice at the end of a celebratory meal.