The majority of holiday celebrations around the world involve indulging in delicious feasts; however, the foods we eat and the traditions we practice vary. In Italy, elaborate dishes are the center of everyday meals and are emphasized at Christmas! If you’re looking to expand your horizons this holiday season, use the following tips to host an Italian-inspired, multi-course meal that embraces age-old Italian customs and creates priceless (and delicious!) memories with friends and family.
The Christmas Eve meal is traditionally meatless – instead, Italians enjoy a diverse variety of fish, also known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Don’t let this seven-course feast intimidate you. Fill your menu with familiar, easy-to-prep dishes that take some heat off of the host. Shrimp Toasts and seafood spreads containing crab, salmon or salted cod are crowd-pleasing starters that are perfect for preparing in advance. For the main courses, pasta and stews symbolize iconic Italian classics. Shrimp Alfredo, seafood linguine with clams or mussels, cioppino and Bouillabaisse are all dishes that showcase succulent seafood beautifully. Maple-Walnut Crusted Salmon and Classic Lobster Rolls are additional impressive dishes that make a big statement in your seafood lineup.
Don’t forget dessert! Both light and fluffy, panettone and pandoro are two Christmas cakes that your guests won’t want to miss. Panettone is studded with raisins or candied fruits, and pandoro is a moist, bright yellow cake (traditionally star-shaped) that’s dusted with powdered sugar. Serve these sweet treats with sauces like caramel, chocolate or maple syrup.
To follow ancient Italian tradition, keep the table set after everyone is finished eating; it’s believed that the Madonna (Mary) and baby Jesus will come to taste the food. The Christmas season in Italy begins December 8th and ends January 6th – providing many opportunities to practice and experience these time-honored traditions.
Written by Maureen Rowan Murphy, Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles
Organizing and timing are key elements when it comes to preparing any meal, but especially a special dinner. This countdown is intended as a guide to make it easier to prepare a stress free, delicious Thanksgiving meal that you too can enjoy!!
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
The weekend before:
• Shop for items that can be purchased ahead.
• Prepare and freeze anything that can be made in advance.
• Develop a food preparation schedule.
The day before Thanksgiving:
• Purchase fresh items like vegetables.
• Set table or set up serving areas and set out serving pieces/utensils.
• Set up beverage area.
• Measure out dry stuffing ingredients, cover and set aside to mix with perishable ingredients prior to stuffing or placing in a casserole dish.
Early in the day
• Post a list of food and check off so nothing is forgotten.
• Remove turkey from the refrigerator, unwrap, remove giblets, and set aside if using. Place in a roasting pan and refrigerate until ready to rest.
• Pick up any prepared food. (Our stores are open until 3pm Thanksgiving day.)
4 to 6 hours before serving
• Peel and cut up potatoes and cover with cold water until ready to cook.
• Prepare stuffing,
2 hours before serving
• Cook giblets is using.
• Place condiments such as cranberry sauce, olives, carrots, celery and pickles.
• Add any finishing touches to make ahead recipes.
1 hour before serving
• Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest.
• Place stuffing in oven to bake if baking in a casserole dish as advised.
• Drain potatoes, add salt and fresh water. Cook, drain, and mash. Place in an ovenproof casserole and keep warm in oven.
• Make gravy.
15 minutes before serving
• Carve Turkey.
• Bake rolls according to package directions.
• Pour beverages.
• Place condiments on table.
• Add any finishing touches to side dishes.
• Light candles.