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O Hungry Night: Holiday Entertaining Recipes

Posted by Man Crates on


It has been said the Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Mostly accurate. It’s a time of gathering with loved ones to exchange gifts, share stories and get your paws on lots of really good food. Unless it’s Aunt Gert’s turn to cook. Then, it’s also a time to recover from food poisoning (she tries so hard though). If the responsibility of cooking for a crowd of hungry, hungry guests has fallen on your shoulders, you’ll need some recipes to create an epic Yuletide feast. Behold our holiday recipe highlights. Dig in

SMALL PLATES

Nuts for the Holidays

Steve Martin’s holiday movie Mixed Nuts was a critical and commercial failure. In some circles, it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made. Maybe why it was on our list of Holiday Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen. These holiday nuts are just the opposite—they are delicious, easy to make and won’t lose you millions at the box office.

What to use

  • 2 ½ cups assorted unsalted nuts of your choosing
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

How to use it

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the thyme, cayenne, sugar, salt and butter and mix the toasted nuts in.

PRO-TIP
: If you want to skip those steps and go directly to serving that guy who’s nuts about nuts a collection of savory almonds and cashews, check out the Saloon Nuts Crate. And maybe install those a set of those swinging doors to capture that Old West feel.

Cheesy Beer Bread Bowl

You know what makes eating more fun? Being able to eat the bowl your food arrives in. Unless the bowl is made from something inedible. Luckily, this bowl is made of crusty bread and its innards are made of cheese and beer, so no trouble here.

What to use

  • Large loaf of crusty bread
  • 8 oz. shredded Edam cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 12 oz. bottle pilsner beer
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic clove

How to use it

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For bread bowl, slice off the top of the bread and set aside. Cut a circle around the inside of the bread, leaving about 1 inch for a border and hollow the loaf. Remove the bread interior (make sure to leave a 1-inch border at the bottom of the bowl, too). Cube the bread you removed and set it aside—it will be used for dipping. Place the bowl in the oven on a baking sheet and heat through until crispy and golden on the inside (about 30 mins.). In the meantime, combine the cheeses with the cornstarch in a medium bowl and toss until the cheese is coated. Combine the beer and 1 tbsp. of lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat about 3 mins. until it is steaming, but not simmering. Add cheese into the saucepan in handfuls, stirring. Continue cooking and stirring until all the cheese is melted, about 5 mins. Once cheese is smooth, stir in mustard and the remaining 1 tbsp. lemon juice and season with salt. Remove the bread bowl from the oven and let it cool slightly. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the inside of the bread bowl all over. Pour the hot cheese into the bread bowl and serve with the bread cubes and fruit if you like.

Wild Boar Meatballs

Meatballs made Bill Murray a star. Making wild boar meatballs will make you a star, too. Not necessarily in the Bill Murray star sort of way, but we can’t all be Bill Murray. We can, however, all make these wild boar meatballs.

What to use

  • Balls
    • 2 lbs. ground wild boar meat
    • 2 tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
    • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
    • 1 ¼ cup breadcrumbs
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • ½ cup finely diced shallots
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
    • Olive oil
    • 1 beaten egg
  • Sauce
    • Olive oil
    • 1 chopped white onion
    • 1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes in puree, chopped or crushed
    • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
    • 1 ½ tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • ½ tsp. cumin
    • 1 small can tomato paste

How to use it

Balls: In a large bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper, egg and ¾ cup warm water. Combine using a fork and then form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. Pour olive oil into a skillet the depth of about ¼ inch, heat oil and carefully place meatballs into the oil and brown on all sides on medium heat. Remove the meatballs and put them on a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Sauce: Heat olive oil in the same pan, add onions and sauté until translucent (5-10 mins.). Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. more, then stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, tomato paste and maple syrup.

Place the meatballs in the sauce, cover and simmer on low heat for 25-30 mins. until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve in a bowl with toothpicks nearby. Makes approximately 18-20 meatballs.

BIG PLATES

Slow Cooked Venison Roast


Been wanting to cook some Who-Roast Beast but not quite sure which animal that might be? You’re not alone. While Dr. Seuss left the critter’s taxonomy open to interpretation, this roast beast recipe is very certainly for venison and it very certainly does not stink, stank, stunk.

What to use

  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 12-oz. bottle dark beer
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 sliced large onion
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 3 lb. boneless venison roast
  • 6 medium carrots diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 7 small potatoes peeled and cut into eighths
  • 4 celery ribs cut into 2-inch pieces

How to use it

Combine flour, salt and pepper and rub all over the roast. Brown roast on all sides in oil in a Dutch oven. Add in beer, cider, onion, garlic, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add potatoes, carrots and celery, cover and simmer for one more hour until meat and veggies are tender. Remove bay leaf and serve. Serves 6-8.

Bourbon Molasses Elk Flank Steak

Elk and reindeer are both large-bodied deer species, but that’s about the end of their similarities. Elk, in general, are heavier and larger, but reindeer have larger antlers than elk relative to body size. Elk are found in Western North America and Central Eastern Asia, while reindeer occupy the colder climes of the Arctic and Subarctic regions of Asia, North America and Europe. Reindeer also need to help distribute Christmas gifts, so lay off the reindeer this year and eat some elk instead.

What to use

  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 2 lb. elk flank steak
  • 2 tbsp. butter

How to use it

Combine all ingredients into a bowl except for the butter and the steak and whisk. Put the marinade and the steak in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove steak from the marinade, place on a grill directly over heat. Grill for two mins., then rotate, leave on for two more mins. and then flip the steak over. Grill for two mins., then rotate and grill for two more mins. Move steak to the side of the grill with no coals to bake. Slice butter into ½-inch pieces and place on top of steak and bake for about 3 mins. Remove steak from the grill and foil and let rest for about 7-10 mins. before serving. Serves 6-8.

Boar Chops with Jelly Sauce

Peter Brady once looked to the classic pork chop, with a side of Humphrey Bogart, to help create a new personality for himself. Like many Brady Bunch plots, this makes no sense. This recipe for wild boar chops with red currant jelly sauce will make complete sense to you and your guests, and you don’t even have to wear bell bottoms to make it.

What to use

  • 6 boar chops
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. plus ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup red currant jelly

How to use it

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan at medium. Once oil is hot, add shallots and saute for 30 seconds, then add garlic and saute for 30 more seconds. Add the jelly and the balsamic and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until it reduces, about 3 mins. Add stock and ½ tsp. of salt and ¼ tsp. of pepper to the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place rosemary in pan and cook for 5 mins. Remove from heat, add butter and mix to dissolve the butter. Heat a saute pan over medium-high until the pan is hot, then add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season boar on both sides with remaining salt and 1 ½ tsp. of pepper and place the chops in the pan to sear about 3 mins. until caramelized. Turn over and sear for 2 more mins. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (about 20 mins). Remove from the oven and serve with sauce. Serves 6.

Brunswick Stew

Roy Blount, Jr. once said “Brunswick Stew is what happens when small mammals carrying ears of corn fall into barbecue pits.” An amusing sentiment, for sure, but it’s really not wise to just let any critter wander in off the road and jump into your stew. This recipe still allows for flexibility with wild game selection—choose your own favorites—and pays off big in flavor.

What to use

  • 3 or 4 lbs. wild game meat cut into 1-inch cubes. (venison, elk, wild game sausage, pheasant, whatever you prefer)
  • ½ lb. salted butter
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups diced onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup vinegar barbecue sauce
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 quart baby lima beans
  • 1 quart corn kernels
  • 6 tbsp. brown sugar

How to use it

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat and add diced onions and garlic and saute until translucent (about 15 mins.). Add cayenne, black pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for about 5 mins. Add ½ cup of barbecue sauce and brown sugar. Add in meats, crushed tomatoes and vegetables, stir in the stock and let simmer for about 2 hours over medium heat. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with bread.

PRO-TIP
: Brunswick Stew traditionalists who want to leave selection of meats to chance should try out a Dutch Oven Kit, one of the best outdoor gifts for men, which can double as trap for curious forest denizens. It will also cook the stew, so there’s that, too.

SWEET PLATES

Bourbon Pecan Pie with Drunken Cherries


The combination of butter, sugar, corn syrup and eggs are responsible for the gooey interior of this pecan pie. The bourbon and drunken cherries are responsible for everyone getting seriously crazy over it.

What to use

  • Pie
    • 1 cup corn syrup
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • ½ cup light brown sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • ¼ cup melted butter
    • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup bourbon
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • ½ tsp. sea salt
    • 2 ½ cups lightly toasted pecan halves
    • 1 pie crust
  • Drunken Cherries
    • 10 oz. thawed whole frozen cherries
    • 8 oz. bourbon
    • 1 bourbon vanilla bean
    • ¼ c. superfine sugar

How to use it

Filling: Place corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and bourbon in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook while continuing to whisk about 2 mins. then remove from heat. Whisk together eggs, butter flour, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl. Gradually whisk about ¼ of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture then gradually add egg mixture to remaining corn syrup mixture, continually whisking. Stir in 2 ½ cups lightly toasted pecan halves; cool completely (about 30 mins.). Preheat oven to 325°F. Pour cooled filling into crust and bake for about 45-50 mins. or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour) before slicing. Serve with Drunken Cherries.

Drunken Cherries: Combine sugar with bourbon in a saucepan and heat until dissolved. Let cool. Place thawed cherries into a lidded glass jar, pour sauce mixture into jar on top of cherries. Slice the vanilla bean in half and then lengthwise. Place into jar, pushed down into the cherries. Place the lid of the jar on and refrigerate. Cherries can keep up to 4 weeks.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This spongy foe of cold weather and grumpy travelers is a staple on holiday tables worldwide. The version here is filled with warming elements and sugary goodness, and isn’t quite as gut crushing as other puddings.

What to use

  • Filling
    • ½ stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
    • 1 ½ cup chopped pitted whole dates
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 ¼ cup water
    • 1 tbsp. mild-flavored molasses
    • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Sauce
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • ½ stick unsalted butter
    • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp. brandy

How to use it

Pudding: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter and flour a bundt pan. Bring dates and water to a boil in saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and set aside to cool. Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl to blend. Add 1 egg and beat to blend. Add half of flour mixture and half of date mixture and beat to blend. Repeat with remaining egg, flour mixture, and date mixture. Pour batter into mold. Bake 40-45 minutes until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert pudding onto a rack.

Sauce: Bring sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 mins. Remove from heat, stir in brandy and vanilla. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with sauce and whipped cream.

Razzleberry Truffles

From the minds who brought us “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” came, rather unwittingly, a food sensation that would sweep the nation. Well, maybe it’s not all that dramatic, but it truly wasn’t until Tiny Tim obsessed over it in Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol that razzleberry dressing even existed. This dessert is more than a lyrical placeholder, but feel free to sing about it when creating and serving it.

What to use

  • 8 oz. white chocolate
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons raspberry and blackberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

How to use it

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan bring whipping cream to a simmer. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand 5 mins. Whisk together until smooth. Whisk in preserves. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm enough to scoop. Roll chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar to coat. Chill until ready to serve (they should be firm). Makes 28 truffles.

Peppermint Twist Brownies

Nothing says Christmas more than fighting over the last brownie. These treats are sure to inspire anger and jealousy toward the unfortunate soul who takes the last one. And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

What to use

  • Brownie base
    • ½ cup butter
    • 3 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
    • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ tsp. baking powder
    • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • Peppermint topping
    • 16 oz. softened cream cheese
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
    • 2 tbsp. milk

How to use it

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat until smooth and set aside to cool. Stir 1 cup sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined. Spread batter evenly in baking pan that has been lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and peppermint extract and beat until smooth. Add milk and beat until combined. Add 3 eggs and beat on low speed just until combined. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan and carefully spread evenly over brownie batter. Bake for 30-35 mins. or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour. Cover loosely and chill for 2-4 hours. Use foil to lift uncut bars from pan to a cutting board. Cut and feel free to cover with crushed candy canes.