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A Modern Christmas

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All the classics—roast beef and trifle included—get a fresh, new look in this festive holiday dinner

This menu for eight has all the classics you want for the ultimate Christmas dinner (including a juicy roast beef), updated with a stylish, modern flare. And never mind the 12 days of Christmas. We have an easy plan  that gets you started three days ahead, so you have lots of time to do the cooking—and enjoy your eggnog, too.

Download a pdf of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list, and timeline.

Menu Timeline

Three days ahead:

  • Do the shopping, including wine and Champagne.
  • Buy the decorations and centerpiece.

Two days ahead:

  • Make the ragoût and lemon-thyme butter.
  • Choose wine glasses, trifle glasses, and plates.
  • Stem and wash the spinach.

One day ahead:

  • Stuff the shrimp
  • Make and bake the bread puddings, if you’re planning to reheat them.
  • Make the cake and apple mixture for the trifles.
  • Set the table and decorate the room

Christmas morning:

  • Assemble the bread puddings (if not already made).
  • Trim the tenderloin, season, and refrigerate.

Two hours ahead:

  • Whip the cream and assemble the trifles.
  • Wilt the spinach.

Ninety minutes ahead:

  • Put the beef in to roast.
  • Prepare the juice mixture for the cocktail.
  • Bake the bread puddings (if you have a second oven).

Twenty minutes ahead:

  • Remove the beef from the oven. Tent with foil, and let it rest.
  • Remove the bread puddings from the oven.
  • Finish the cocktails (and pour one for yourself!).
  • Bake the shrimp.
  • Reheat the ragoût and sides.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2-1⁄2 lb. bagged spinach or 5 lb. bunched spinach
  • 1 small head frisée lettuce
  • 20 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 1 bunch scallions (at least 6)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1-1⁄2 lb. Granny Smith apples (about 4 small)
  • 1-1⁄2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes

Meat, Seafood, Eggs & Dairy

  • 4-lb. beef tenderloin roast, preferably from the thicker end
  • 16 jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.)
  • 1⁄2 lb. backfin crabmeat
  • 3-3⁄4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1⁄2 cup buttermilk

Other Groceries

  • 2 bottles (750 ml each) brut sparkling wine or Champagne
  • 1-1⁄2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1⁄2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1⁄3 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 loaf white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Original
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • 1⁄2 cup unsulfured mild molasses
  • 1⁄4 cup prepared white horseradish
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger

Pantry Staples

  • 6-3⁄4 oz. (1-1⁄2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1-1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1⁄4 tsp. table salt
  • Sriracha hot sauce (or other Asian chile sauce)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu


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