Friday, December 26, 2014


MERRY CHRISTMAS!! - There, I said it and I'm glad.  And that's all I'm going to say about that, except to add, God bless us, every one.

It has already been a wonderful day.  I slept late.  My little girl dog, Chelsea Rose, did her business ON THE PEE PEE PAD.  Her Christmas present to her Daddy and me.  I have a leisurely day of cooking ahead of me, and all the ingredients I need.  I am drinking my first cup of coffee.  I just opened the remaining Christmas cards from my office peeps, and I am going to be able to slice into that fruitcake I started boozifying a month ago.  Most of all, I am going to spend the day at home with the people I love best in the world.

The cooking plan is going to focus around another smoked chicken and a beef eye round roast.  This time I am smoking a whole cut up chicken with the skin left on, and using a mesquite, rather than a hickory smoker bag.  I am not planning on saucing it under the broiler, as I did last time, but instead will serve it with a side of white barbecue sauce.  The eye round, which is my favorite cut for roast beef (since I cannot afford to even consider serving my real favorite, prime rib, at home) has been seasoned, well-wrapped, frozen for six months, and now defrosted and ready for it's last hurrah.

Now was to the white sauce - I went so far as to ask my friend Dave, who heads home to Alabama for the holidays, if he was going to be anywhere near Decatur, so he could pick me up a bottle of this quintessentially Alabama barbecue sauce at Big Bob Gibson's.  Unfortunately, Decatur is way north of the Abercrombie Family Homestead.  Rob and I usually route ourselves through Decatur when we are returning from Little Rock, but we aren't expecting to make a trip up there until this summer, if at all.  Fortunately, the recipe, which is from Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Cookbook, is all over the Internet, so I made my own.  The recipe is ridiculously easy.

The eye round is still slightly frozen in the center, so I am going to wait to put it into the oven.  I prepare it by following Paula Deen's recipe for Perfect Eye-of-Round Roast, which is similar to the recipe I followed for years before.  I like her seasoning combination, so that is what has been permeating this particular piece of beef, albeit slowly, for the past six months.  Eye of round can be a tougher cut of meat, so the trick is to seal off the exterior when cooking, and to slice it thinly for serving.

The next big project on my cooking list is potato latkes.  I am well aware that Hanukkah ended at sundown last night, but I never got the chance to make my own latkes while Hanukkah was still in full swing.  And they go so good with beef!  Since I am making a relatively small amount, this is going to be very old-fashioned - I am going to hand-grate the potatoes, and fry them on top of the stove instead of using the electric fry pan.  Messy, but worth it.

I am also going to serve Jonah crab claws, but that requires minimal cooking.  I get them in BJ's and the price is not bad.  Definitely cheaper than a drive down to Miami Beach to Joe's Stone Crab.  Not that these are stone crab claws, but they are delicious in their own right.  Just remember to always defrost crab of any kind overnight in the refrigerator, not under cold running water or in the microwave.

A word about crab and crab meat.  As you might imagine, I have strong opinions. Back in New York, we only ate Alaskan king crab, which was purchased frozen, defrosted, and eaten with a Russian-type dressing as a "cocktail".  It wasn't until I moved to Florida that I became familiar with blue crab, which, in my opinion, was vastly inferior to king, or snow crab.  I had tasted soft-shell crabs a few times, but never gave much thought as to what kind of crab they were.  Over the years, I have learned more about blue crab, and am willing to admit that jumbo lump crabmeat is almost as good as Alaskan king crab.  Both of those are ridiculously overpriced, up there with my favorite food in the universe, cold water lobster, so purchase for home consumption is limited.  The Jonah crab claws are a nice compromise.  I've also developed a pretty good recipe for crab cakes, using pasteurized blue crab meat, and they are not half bad.  But nothing compares to eating crab meat out of the shell, dipped in a little butter, cocktail sauce, or tartar sauce.  I'm going to warm these Jonahs in some garlic butter, and enjoy them while making an utter mess of my hands and face.

I have other things on my list, like Kingstowne Wraps, seafood fra diavolo over pasta, mussels in wine sauce, devilled eggs, seafood salad, and tzatziki sauce to go with a naan bread in my fridge, but I've got a whole weekend ahead.  So stay tuned, and click on the link for some of the components of an awesome Christmas dinner.

Christmas Recipes:
Mesquite Smoked Chicken
Big Bob Gibson's White Bar-B-Q Sauce
Eye Round Roast
Hanukkah Potato Latkes
Garlic Butter Jonah Crab Claws

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