Saturday, December 24, 2016

cooking the guest

The Cottons are about to sit down to Christmas dinner -- in about five hours or so.

You might think we are a bit early. For us, this is as close to the 25th that we have celebrated Christmas together in decades. When we manage to gather our dwindling herd for holidays, we often end up celebrating Christmas some time in February or so. Today, we feel anxiously punctual.

Over the past month, I have squired Mom, Darrel, and Christie to some of our more popular local Mexican and northern-style restaurants. The results have been mixed. We have not yet found a meal to please all four of us. Several times, none of us had meals we would like to repeat.

That is not entirely true. We have eaten at one spot where we have yet to be disappointed. At home. So far, every meal has been a home run.

For that reason, we decided to avoid dining out for Christmas dinner. None of us is very fond of turkey. And that is almost the exclusive offering at our local eateries.

Because The Bird will not be making an appearance on our table, we started searching for an alternative. Leg of lamb is a favorite, but we struck out searching for it. I know it is available. We just did not get an order in soon enough.

We played around with some game options. Wild boar. Pheasant. Venison. All of them good options -- and often available. With adequate notice.

What we settled on was a family favorite. Prime rib. For $2,000 (Mx), my favorite butcher was able to provide a rib roast weighing in at just under 5 kilograms. The price is a give away that the cut is choice, rather than prime. We can make up for that a bit in the cooking process.

My kitchen has an oven. But I have never used it. All of the cooking options use international symbols. I had to harken back to my London apartment to remember what each of them meant. Fortunately, we have a meat thermometer to help monitor the reliability of the digital settings.

The guest of honor has now been ceremoniously patted down with sea salt, pepper, and thyme (a Kobi beef would not receive better pampering) , and slipped into a 225 degree oven to start its slow roasting. Around 1:30, we will start preparing the sides: Cretan wedding rice, garlicky green beans with pine nuts, and a Greek salad.

And, at 3, the five of us (I invited my Mexican friend Ozzie to join us) will sit down to our Christmas dinner.

Somewhere the goose is getting fat. Somewhere someone is putting a penny in an old man's hat.

And we will be listening to a Christmas classic of our youth.

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