Traditional Holiday Feast Revamped for the Grill
Many cooks would much prefer to brave the chilly air of December to keep the holiday cooking mess outdoors! Cooking outdoors may seem like a novel idea to some, but you can actually prepare some very traditional holiday foods over the open flames of your fire pit or atop your charcoal or gas grill. Many traditional and quite historic dishes can be made-over to suit your grill; they are perfect for holiday celebrations and are likely to convince you that winter grilling is well worth withstanding the cold all season long!
Christmas Goose: The quintessential star of the Victorian Christmas feast, the goose tends to be fat and heavy making it a perfect candidate for smoking and grilling outdoors. A fifteen pound goose is likely to take between two and three hours to grill. If it’s simply too cold up there in Maine or thereabouts in the northlands, you can cut the cooking time dramatically by cutting the goose in half and grilling each side. Onion powder, garlic, thyme, and a bit of lemon juice are common seasonings for goose.
Holiday Turkey: If you’re holiday gathering is small, consider grilling a breast of turkey cut in half for the grill. This greatly shortens the cooking time and the breasts can be seasoned anyway you like. Brine to lock in moisture and then grill over indirect heat. To be festive, create a basting sauce combining ingredients like soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and cloves.
Sides: Various Victorian-era and early twentieth-century cookbooks feature Christmas menus. Potatoes are frequently mentioned as are Brussels sprouts, cranberries, asparagus, and corn. These items can be grilled either wrapped in foil or in a grill pan. Coat with a bit of olive oil and season with sea salt, pepper, rosemary, and oregano. Add some holiday colorful ingredients into the mix like stewed tomatoes and red or green peppers.
Warden Pie: This sweetly spiced pie made with saffron and pears is mentioned in Shakespeare’s play A Winter’s Tale. To prepare this the Elizabethan way takes more time than the modern holiday cook has to spare. You can easily revamp this dessert for modern tastes and techniques. Chop up some pears and cover with water; simmer on your grill’s side burner until the fruit is soft. Then, create a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, clove, and ginger (saffron if you want to be authentic) to suit your taste. Lay foil across your grill to accommodate some puff pastry. Place your fruit on top of the puff pastry—you can make small tart shapes if you prefer—and then sprinkle the spice mix across the fruit. Grill until the pastry is ready—about six or seven minutes. When you’re ready to serve, top with vanilla ice cream for a treat Shakespeare would approve of.
You can adapt nearly any of your favorite holiday recipes for the grill. It keeps the mess outdoors, but most importantly, it gives your dishes that unmistakable grilled flavor that everyone loves. Baking and boiling can leave food bland, but the grill always seems to bring out your food’s best tastes.