One of the greatest things about winter is the substantial volume of delicious food and drink it ends up putting in front of you. So if you’re going to do winter and the holiday season properly, you should probably be contributing to the pile of goodies.
Whether you’re hosting friends, attending a dinner party, or just trying to keep the frost off your veins, you should have a few frigid-friendly classic recipes ready to come in hot at all times.
Here are 7 we think everyone should have on the menu this season…
1. Turkey Chilli
Just about everyone loves a nice steaming bowl of chilli – especially when it’s freezing outside. Not only is this one a crowd-pleaser, it’s also one of the best dishes with which to actually feed a crowd; the ingredients are inexpensive by bulk, the prep and cooking process is simple, and if you make too much, leftovers are an easy, freezable blessing.
Well, if you soak any meat in tomato sauce and onion juice long enough, it all pretty much tastes like beef. And we find that people are generally grateful for a relatively healthy option during the otherwise immune-battering holidays. So you might as well go with turkey or chicken, or if you really have to go red, grab some grass-fed beef. Keep in mind: you know you’re going to smother it in cheese when it’s done anyway.
Extra points if you make a bread-bowl or serve it in a Santa hat.
2. A Proper Eggnog
If you think Eggnog is “gross,” feel free to skip to the next item. But you’re seriously missing out.
First of all, eggnog is as much a holiday beverage staple as anything else. In fact, it’s almost critical to the whole season; if you think after several hours of light-speed travel, staring at reindeer ass and sneaking past condo security guards Santa wants a glass of 2%, you are sorely mistaken.
He wants eggnog. Boozy, creamy eggnog. And when we come over, that’s what we want too.
Chances are, if you’ve had a bad eggnog experience, it’s because some chump just sprinkled Bacardi into your glass of store-bought slush. The homemade stuff can and should be flavourful, refreshing, and strong enough to put a moose in a coma.
There are simple-but-delicious recipes like this one (feel free to go a bit lighter on the cream and eggs):
Or more boozy-and-complicated-but-unreal recipes like the one you’ll find here on Chow.com that suggests 1-3 weeks for aging.
Better nog waste any time.
3. Beef & Vegetable Stew
Do you own a Crock-Pot? No?
Get a Crock-Pot.
Any investment that allows you to properly cook a bunch of food without requiring you to actually be there is a worthwhile investment in our books. Wouldn’t you rather be relaxing and drinking that delicious eggnog you just made?
A good stew has the very same attractive qualities of chilli plus an infinite list of alternate ingredients.
You have some peppers and zucchini left over? Throw ‘em in there. A drawer of beets and some stuff that’s either cilantro or parsley? Why not. As long as you have a good, thick base and you don’t connect your cooker to a 250-volt outlet, you’ll be the Sultan of Stew in no time.
4. Mulled Wine
Too chilly outside for a pitcher of cold sangria? Well then it’s about time you got into the warm sangria known to many as “Mulled Wine”, or as we like to call it, “Cabernet Soupignon”.
If you like fruit, cider, wine, and warm stuff, you need to whip up a batch of this festive beverage to have handy at any and all holiday events like parties, dinners, and watching Elf alone in your living room.
There are no crazy ingredients or brain-buster steps required. Much like the stew and the chilli, it’s mostly staring and stirring. And then drinking.
The ingredients are also flexible; feel free to throw in pears, apples/apple cider, or even plums if you want to get crazy. It’s hard to mess this one up, and as much as taste matters, lack of stress is perhaps the most important requirement for a holiday recipe.
Here’s an example of a great recipe from the famous Jamie Oliver:
5. Fish Tacos
Now you might be asking yourself, “What do fish tacos have to do with winter?”
Well, they’re on this list because they’re awesome and everybody loves them. That’s what they have to do with winter. We done here?
And frankly, Mexican-based cuisine has been underrepresented in holiday season menus furrr everrrr and we don’t understand why. Tortillas are used to “wrap” stuff and guacamole looks like someone barfed a Christmas tree. How could the two not go together?
It only takes about 40-60 minutes to whip everything up and even if you don’t nail the basic flavours, you always have the garnishes as a fall-back. It’s also a pretty refreshing meal compared to the other heavy and hot dishes people often prepare during the winter months.
Here’s a recipe for classic fish tacos you might find handy:
6. A Green Salad With Fruit and Cheese
Nope, these aren’t just for Thanksgiving. Every solid winter dinner or holiday pot-luck needs a green salad that conjures up memories of summer and a time when you could ride a bicycle without snowtires.
And of all the easy things we’re suggesting, this is by far the easiest. Not to mention the healthiest.
Cranberry salads are popular, but feel free to get creative as just about any fruit mixed with cheese and a savory dressing is going to taste spectacular.
Here’s a great recipe for a winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing:
7. Apple Pie
If you didn’t see this one coming, shame on you. SHAME. Very few things are more festive and more delicious than a slice of homemade apple pie accompanied by a scoop of ice cream the size of a puppy.
Nail this once and you’ll never buy from a store again. A high-end bakery or an orchard, maybe. But definitely never a grocery store or a pawn shop. Which you probably shouldn’t be doing anyway.
We recommend trying to make your own crust. It’s the hardest part but it can also be the most rewarding, second only to the nap you’ll take after eating it for lunch on a Sunday.
There are a gagillion apple pie recipes out there, including simple ones from President Obama himself and complex (but unreal) ones from Joanne Chang at the well-known Flour Bakery in Massachusetts. But if you’re not sure which pie to pick, here’s a solid basic one to get the wheelbarrows turning…
If you’ve got any other recipes you think should be mastered for the winter months, let us know in the comments. And we can all get cooking.
Cover photo from: istock.com/robynmac