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The Christmas Meal Two Ways

Preparing a meal for Christmas

An Easy Christmas at Home: In many households, the Christmas meal is less formal than the Thanksgiving meal. Why not serve a stew, which takes only 1 pot and benefits in flavor from being prepared a couple of days in advance? Spooned into wide, shallow bowls over a bed of rice or egg noodles or alongside warm, crusty bread, this kind of meal is homey and flavorful, and it easily nourishes a crowd with little effort other than reheating. Start with a simple salad of mixed greens, and finish with a fresh-baked apple pie that you assembled and froze days beforehand (or even a month prior, when making pies for Thanksgiving).

An Elegant Christmas to Remember: If the Christmas meal is a more formal affair in your household, prepare as much as you can in advance, including soups, salads, and desserts. A number of sophisticated desserts can be prepared in advance. Prepare desserts that will holds well in the refrigerator; all you need to do is caramelize the top before serving. A fallen chocolate cake or flourless chocolate cake can be mixed ahead of time, held in the refrigerator, and baked off at the last minute. As for the main course, the best choice is a roast, such as beef tenderloin, because it does not require constant fussing as it cooks. Partner the roast with root vegetables that also roast well, such as beets, carrots or potatoes. If you want to serve homemade rolls, proof, knead and shape the dough in the morning, then set the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Remove the shaped dough balls about 1 hour before you are to bake them; bake them after the roast is pulled from the oven and is left to rest before craving.

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