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Quick and Easy Christmas Feast

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A simple-but-elegant feast in just four hours

This menu serves six to eight, with plenty of leftover ham.

Did Christmas sneak up on you? This last-minute holiday dinner is guaranteed to impress: a dressed-up salad with dried cherries and blue cheese, creamy horseradish potatoes, and a chocolate truffle tart. But the best part is you can pull it all together while the bourbon-glazed ham bakes—and the shopping list is ready to print and take to the store.

Menu Timeline

4 Hours Ahead:

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Make and bake the cookie crust for the tart.
  • Make the ham glaze.
  • Make the chocolate truffle filling for the tart and cool in the refrigerator, whisking occasionally.

3-1/2 Hours Ahead:

  • Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and put the ham in to bake.
  • Pour the chocolate truffle filling into the tart crust and refrigerate.

1-1/2 Hours Ahead:

  • Make the lemon thyme butter for the spinach.
  • Make the horseradish creme fraiche and chop the parsley for the potatoes.

1 Hour Ahead

  • Make the salad dressing and plump the dried cherries for the salad.
  • Wash and dry the greens for the salad.

40 Minutes Ahead:

  • Raise the oven temperature and begin glazing the ham.
  • Boil the potatoes.

20 Minutes Ahead:

  • Take the ham out of the oven and tent with foil.
  • Smash the potatoes and top them with the horseradsh creme fraiche and parsley.
  • Make the lemon thyme spinach.
  • Toss the salad with the dressing and top with blue cheese.

Just Before Dessert:

  • Make the vanilla-mascarpone topping and spread it over the tart.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2-1/2 lb. bagged spinach or 5 lb. bunched spinach
  • 1 large head frisée (about 8 oz.)
  • 1-1/2 lb. small fingerling potatoes or baby potatoes, such as baby Yukons or Red Bliss
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 medium lemon

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 smoked half-ham, preferably a bone-in butt half (8 to 9 lb.)
  • 3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 4 oz. good-quality blue cheese

Other Groceries

  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 whole graham crackers or 35 vanilla wafers
  • 3/4 cup high-quality orange marmalade
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or dark rum
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish

Pantry Staples

  • 6 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbs. walnut oil
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu

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