’Tis the season for festive feasts! We turned to some of our favorite local chefs and restaurateurs for ideas on what they serve when celebrating with friends and family. Make this holiday season the most delicious one yet with these incredible recipes.
12 Holiday Recipes: Local Chefs’ Personal Favorites
STARTERS & SNACKS
Foie Gras Torchon with Cranberry Gastrique
Chef Ben Smith, Tsunami
Each Christmas, Ben prepares this dish for his family’s holiday dinner. “We all look forward to this annual treat, but none of us anticipate it more than my daughter, Ayden. She has been a fan of this dish since the first time she tasted it as a small child. She is the official first taster each year and announces whether or not it meets with her approval,” says Ben. “Every year, she and I savor the last few bites of the foie gras, just the two of us. For some reason we always do it over the kitchen sink, often washed down with a tiny glass of sauterne. It’s our personal holiday tradition.” Click here for the full recipe.
Restaurateur Kevin Keough, Cafe Keough
One of Kevin’s favorite holiday dishes is one that his Irish mother used to make for him when he was a kid; it was a sauce of melted cheese and other savory ingredients poured over or served with toasted bread. “From Ireland, my mother brought over cuisine from the British Isles that helped warm the body,” says Kevin. “One of those dishes was Welsh rarebit. Simple, tasty and cheesy — what more could a young boy want after a cold day working on our small farm?” Click here for the full recipe.
Pumpkin Deviled Eggs
Every Christmas Eve, Ryan gets together with family for a big gathering, which always includes a pickle platter and deviled eggs. “I started trying to kick the deviled eggs up a notch, and this version is my favorite,” says Ryan. “They are really creamy and savory. It’s my favorite Christmas Eve snack, before the bird and ham of course.” Click here for the full recipe.
Savory Seafood Cheesecake
Chef Alyssa Holliday, Le Jardin – Gourmet to Go
Alyssa’s family moved to Memphis from St. Augustine, FL, and has made this savory cheesecake full of fresh seafood for several generations. Following in her family tradition, she makes it for the holidays, and lucky for us, it also appears on the menu at Le Jardin for special occasions. “This is my favorite as it is a win-win for any crowd,” she says. Click here for the full recipe.
Carrot “Lox” with Red Onion, Capers, Dill & Créme Fraîche
Cookbook author Justin Fox Burks, author of The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table (Susan Schadt Press, 2016) and The Chubby Vegetarian blog
Justin recommends making this vegetarian and gluten-free dish for your next holiday party. “When you’re showing off your lovely carrot ‘lox’ plate, and someone exclaims, ‘That’s the most beautiful piece of salmon I’ve ever seen,’ you can just say, ‘Yes, it is; yes, it truly is!’,” he says of this dish that makes a delicious conversation piece. Click here for the full recipe.
ENTREES & SIDES
Oyster Dressing with Tarragon & Gruyère
Chef Max Hussey, Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House
This dressing is dear to Max, as his mother prepared it every holiday he can remember. “When my mum passed this April, I inherited her cookbooks dating back before I was born. This recipe is in a book held together with rubber bands and Scotch tape with notes for each holiday, and the outcome of each attempt at making it.” Click here for the full recipe.
Roasted Carrots & Parsnips with Asian Spice & Maple Syrup
Chef Patrick Reilly, The Majestic Grille
Looking for a vegetable side for your holiday feast? Try these sweet and spicy roasted root vegetables. “Serve these roasted vegetables with roast turkey and roast beef,” Patrick recommends, adding, “I especially love them with a roasted goose.” Patrick says you can either add or substitute sweet potatoes, turnips, pumpkin or squash. Click here for the full recipe.
Greek Castana (Chestnut) Dressing
Restaurateur John Vergos, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
John’s father may be known for his world-famous ribs, but his mother, Tasia Vergos, is also a wonderful cook. Her traditional Greek dishes are beloved by her family and friends. One of John’s favorite family holiday dishes is his mother’s turkey dressing. “It is made with chestnuts and ground beef — and it’s absolutely wonderful,” explains John of this traditional Greek dish. Click here for the full recipe.
Creole-Spiced Braised Pork Osso Buco
Restaurateur Bert Smythe, McEwen’s
The osso buco at McEwen’s is a must-order. It’s one of Bert’s favorites for the holidays. “It’s a great hearty meal for a cold holiday night spent with friends, good wine and whiskey,” he recommends. Serve it at home like they do at the restaurant — with sides of stone-ground cheddar grits and spicy collard greens. Click here for the full recipe.
Chocolate Chess Pie
Chef Jody Moyt, Lafayette’s Music Room
Jody’s grandmother’s chess pie is so good that he decided to put it on the menu at Lafayette’s! “This twist on the traditional Southern chess pie was a favorite during the holidays at my house growing up,” says Jody of the yummy dessert. He has a few tips when making this pie. “Remember to use high-quality cocoa powder and vanilla. Store-bought pie shells work great, but if you’re up for it, make a homemade pie dough. And for a special holiday presentation, serve with whipped cream and macerated berries.” Click here for the full recipe.
Southern Boiled Custard
Cookbook author Perre Magness, author of The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist (Release date: January 16, 2018) and The Runaway Spoon
Boiled custard is one of Perre’s great childhood Christmas memories. “We spent a lot of Christmases at my grandparents’ house in Columbia, Tennessee, and my grandmother always served boiled custard in Santa Claus mugs and caramel cake for dessert at Christmas lunch,” she reminisces. You should consider buying yourself a set of Santa mugs, just like Perre recently did, to create your own boiled custard Christmas memories of course. Click here for the full recipe.
Executive Chef Andreas Kisler, The Peabody Hotel
This hazelnut brittle is the perfect dessert garnish for the holidays. “This recipe is one that my family made back in Austria when I was a child,” says Andreas, who started working in restaurants when he was 15 years old. His family served it with a praline parfait during the holidays. We think it sounds like a great snack too! Click here for the full recipe.
We think this should be enough to get you through the holiday season, but if you need more dish ideas, click here!
Bon appétit, and happy holidays!