“Dress Rehearsal”

Christmas is coming up and we are not sure the ham will arrive!

It is a long story but  for many years we have been given a beautiful spiral cut ham as a gift at the holidays, which we enjoyed as our Christmas day dinner. Sadly current circumstances indicate that we may have eaten our last ham.

Before the Christmas ham deliveries and the current restaurant thanksgiving tradition; and as soon as I was old enough to lift a whole roast; I was producing all of the holiday cooking. Don’t get me wrong Mom was and still is a great cook but as soon as she taught me – I took over!

So this year, with the ham crisis looming, I have decided to return to my formative years and plan on cooking Christmas dinner.

I haven’t produced the “big show” in a while and things have changed over the years. The folks are older and have some health concerns. Everybody is dieting. Some new friends come to the table and some no longer attend. I thought about what to cook. Something everybody likes, something reliable and not too exotic. Something reasonably sized that could be purchased in “feed under 10 people” size.


I will admit that I was inspired the other day when I sat down to watch some DVR’d Food Network. I found out that I could take an economically priced cut of beef and make it magical.

AND this would give me a chance to cure my husband of his childhood phobia of putting garlic into the slits of a roast beef. Seems there was an incident with a ruined beef one holiday in his house. Very traumatic apparently.

Another bonus: he has never had roasted chestnuts and/or chestnut stuffing. So I could use this as an excuse to perform the ridiculously time-consuming task of buying, slitting, roasting and peeling of actual chestnuts. I have to put these in the same category as pomegranates and pistachios – yummy but lots of work and willing to pay extra for someone else to do all that!

Roast beef with mushroom pan sauce, chestnut stuffing on the side and peas! That was the menu I cooked today – 2 weeks before Christmas – to practice.

A full dress rehearsal!

(oh don’t worry my husband and I will gladly eat the same thing 2 weeks later!)

Learn from my dress rehearsal….
  • I put a peeled and sliced potato under the roast to raise it up a bit as my rack sits quite close to the pan bottom but I am going to change it next time to thick sliced onions.
  • Also I added some broth, water and wine to the pan to keep the roast drippings from burning up and to provide flavorful pan drippings for a sauce later. I think a slice of bacon would really ramp things up.
  • I will bury the garlic deeper next time as some of the exposed tips of garlic did get a bit charred and a tiny bit bitter.
  • I will make the effort to create a thicker pan sauce next time using a flour slurry.


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