Kurt Vonnegut was a big proponent of the "chosen family", insisting that the ties we have wth our closest friends can be just as strong, sometimes stronger, than the family we're bound to by blood. A good example of this is the concept of the "orphan's dinner", where friends who don't have anywhere to go during the holidays can gather to share a meal in the spirit of the season.
I had the good fortune to be invited to two orphans' potluck dinners this Christmas, where my friends and I indulged in stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, cookies, pies, and of course, roast turkey. I know there are a lot of people who dislike or are bored of turkey, but I never tire of it. There are so many ways to cook and dress it, I think the possibilities are endless.
The first of the two turkeys was prepared by Edward in the British style. I.E. wrapped in bacon. With the pork fat maintaining the moisture in the bird's breast, plus adding some flavour, it's a terrific way to prepare turkey. Post-season that with a tiny pinch of smoked salt, and you're golden.
My contribution to both suppers was the salad. I wanted something both seasonal and light, and found this recipe for winter endive salad on allrecipes.com. It was bright and well-balanced, and diners at both parties really enjoyed it. While there were some tedious steps (destemming the watercress; seeding the pomegranate; zesting the lemon), the result is well worth it. I mean, look at the colours! Tailor-made for a Christmas dinner.
I had to make slight adjustments to the dressing recipe though, as I think they grossly underestimate my ability to ream every last drop of juice out of lemons. I found it too puckery, so balanced it out with about a teaspoon of balsamic glaze and 2 tsp of brown sugar.
Winter Endive Salad
- 1 bunch watercress
- 2 heads endive, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Spread the watercress on a platter. Arrange the endive and shallots evenly over the watercress. Scatter the pomegranate seeds over the mixture.
Whisk the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; drizzle over the salad immediately before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Thank you again to Rebecca and Mark for including me in your holiday dinners. I loved being a part of it. xo