Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Dinner!

The main event! Slow-Roasted Glazed Pork Shoulder
Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Parmesan Garlic Bread Crumbs and Basil (recipe below)
I hosted Christmas dinner at our house this yea. My mom and brother flew in, since the day after Christmas is my mom's 60th birthday. We had twelve people over and I cooked a big, fabulous dinner, heavy with things I know my mom really likes. I made a glazed roast pork shoulder, which I've made a bunch of times, always to rave reviews. Then a bunch of delicious vegetable sides: braised red cabbage, sauteed cherry tomatoes with parmesan-garlic bread crumbs, fresh corn grits, and steamed green beans tossed with garlic, ginger and lemon.
And for dessert, I made my mom's favorite--creme brulee!
Creme Brulee! Also a great make-ahead party dish--just sprinkle with sugar and place under the broiler for a minute right before serving. 
From the right--tomatoes with bread crumbs, braised cabbage, roast pork, ginger-garlic green beans, fresh corn grits, green salad. 
I love cooking for a big crowd. There is only one thing to remember if you want to host a big dinner party and have a great time yourself:
Make everything you possibly can ahead of time. You do not want to be stuck in the kitchen, getting your cocktail dress smudged while your family drinks and enjoys themselves without you. I always make sure I have 20 minutes or less of work left to get dinner on the table, so I get to participate in cocktails and fun. 
For this dinner, I made the braised cabbage and grits ahead of time--they only needed to be rewarmed. The pork roasted all day--I just needed to make the glaze. I made the breadcrumbs for the tomatoes ahead, and the garlic-ginger-lemon sauce for the green beans. 
So 20 minutes before dinner, I put down my Manhattan and rewarmed the grits and cabbage, sauteed the tomatoes, steamed the green beans, made the glaze for the pork and assembled everything. I missed none of the fun and everything was hot and ready all at once. 
Me not missing the fun! Dinner is already basically done, so I can relax and get my drink on. 

I've put the pork recipe on the blog before, and here is a link to the original, which I first saw in Bonappit.

So I thought I would include two recipes for sides which were huge hits--the fresh corn grits and sauteed cherry tomatoes with parmesan-garlic breadcrumbs.

My goal with the grit recipe was to make grits that tasted more like fresh corn.
Fresh Corn Grits (makes enough for a dozen people or so)

3 cups frozen sweet corn
1 can creamed corn
2 cups of coarse corn meal
several cups (? don't know exactly how much I used) or reduced fat milk
salt to taste

What to do 
Place the frozen corn in a food processor. Blitz into little corn crumbs. This is a cool trick--you have just made corn meal out of frozen corn instead of dried.
Put the frozen meal into your big pot and add the creamed corn and coarse corn meal. Cover with milk and simmer, stirring regularly. Add more milk if looks dry. This should be creamy and about the consistency of a thick pudding.
Season with salt.

Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Parmesan-Garlic Breadcrumbs and Basil 

1 3-inch piece of Parmesan cheese
2 fat garlic cloves
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
6 clam shell packs of cherry tomatoes (try to get different colors)\
Large handful of fresh basil, chopped
Dash olive oil, salt, pepper

What to do
Put the garlic in the food processor and pulse into tiny specks. Then add the cheese and pulse a few more times, creating a coarse grind.
Mix the garlic-cheese mix with the panko crumbs and place into a dry nonstick pan. Toast over a medium flame, tossing frequently, until golden brown. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan. Add the tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes are hot and cooked, but not mushy. You will notice the skins start to wrinkle, but the tomatoes should keep their shape. You may need to work in batches. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the tomatoes in a casserole dish. Top with toasted bread crumbs and chopped basil. Serve immediately! 

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