What Alton Brown Makes for Christmas

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"Cooking for the holidays is less about the food and more about the people around you," explains television personality and food expert Alton Brown. "Choose dishes you can prep ahead of time and that you don't have to stir or check constantly. We serve a Crown Roast on Christmas, because the presentation is awesome, but it requires very little from me while cooking."

Alton continues, "I trim, tie and rub my Crown Roast of Lamb the day before as well as chop the veggies and bread for my Roasted Root Veggie Panzanella. We also serve Hot Toddies for adults because we can set up a slow cooker to keep the punch warm and let guests serve themselves."

Check out Crown Roast of Lamb and Roasted Root Veggie Panzanella recipes below and be sure to catch his national tour, Alton Brown Live!

Crown Roast of Lamb
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2013

2 racks of lamb, 6-8 ribs each, approximately 1 1/2-2 pounds each
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. To french the racks of lamb: Make a cut on the fat side of the ribs, perpendicular to them, about 2 1/2 inches down from the rib ends. Cut through the fat down to the rib bones.
  2. Turn the rack on end, with the bones facing up and push a knife through the flesh between each rib, using the initial cut as a guide for the knife. Cut down the side of each rib to remove the excess fat in between each rib. Using strong kitchen twine, wrap the twine around each rib at the base, nearest the meat and pull to remove all of the remaining fat and sinew from the rib bone.
  3. Bend each rack into a semicircle (meat side in and fat side out) and using kitchen twine tie them together at the base and center, in order to hold the racks together. The rib ends should be pushed outward to create the look of a crown.
  4. Rub the lamb with the olive oil. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and coriander and press all over the lamb. Place the roast in a bundt pan with the center of the pan coming up through the middle of the roast.
  5. Place on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees. This is approximately 8-12 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven, transfer the roast to a rack, cover with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. While the meat is resting add the sherry vinegar, mustard and rosemary to the juices that accumulated in the bundt pan while cooking. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cut the string away from the roast and place cooked stuffing, rice or barley in the center if desired. Serve the warm sauce with the roast.

Yield: 6-8 servings, 2 chops per person
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes

Roasted Root Vegetable Panzanella
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown 2013

For the Salad:
1 ½ pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds rutabaga, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces red onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium Brussels sprouts, shredded on the thin slicing blade of a food processor
8 ounces hearty sourdough or multigrain bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and staled

For the Vinaigrette:
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sorghum or maple syrup
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the parsnips and rutabaga in a large non-stick roasting pan, toss with vegetable oil and kosher salt.
  2. Roast the parsnips and rutabagas for 30 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Add the red onion to the roasting vegetables and stir to combine. Continue to roast the vegetables an additional 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables roast prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, thyme, garlic, mustard, sorghum syrup , ginger and nutmeg in a small lidded jar. Cover and shake the jar until the dressing is emulsified.
  5. Add the Brussels sprouts, bread cubes, to the roasting vegetables, stir to combine and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and immediately transfer to a serving bowl. Dress with the vinaigrette while still warm and season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

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