This holiday was super special for a couple of reasons. It was Michael and I’s first Christmas together in our home, the first time we would cook a holiday meal in the new kitchen (we are in love with it!), my mom was visiting in from Ohio to be with us, and Michael’s mom was spending time with us as well as I had an abundance of activities planned. After cooking earlier in the week, and realizing I needed to share the kitchen (admittedly I am a control freak in the kitchen), my love took the reigns on the main dish and dazzled us with his culinary skills. The leg of boneless lamb was on hand, as he had purchased it a few years ago- tight with a vacuum seal. Turned out to be five pounds of deliciousness once he mastered it!
My focus was all the “trimmings” fresh mint jelly, scalloped potatoes, cranberry sauce and acorn cranberry walnut squash.
He used my fav cookbook and inspiration from Cooks Illustrated for some basic guidelines and then created his own version. The lamb was cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious. Two days later he turned it into “lambwiches” adding cheese, horseradish and toasted ciabatta bread when friends stopped by. Snaps of his process are in the pictures. For reference the original Cooks Illustrated recipe is here. The pictures show a lot of what you need to know. I wasn’t monitoring his cooking, just taking photos so I could pull this together.
With my mom in town, green mint jelly was a must. But having the golden cooking holiday rule, nothing bought makes it to the table it had to be also homemade. I played on a recipe that was alongside the lamb as a sauce and turned it into a nice jelly, but it was not green. I used fresh mint, sugar and red wine vinegar. In hindsight perhaps it if was to be green (but this color was so much more pretty!), maybe white vinegar would be better. I had to play with it a bit to continue to tone down the vinegar taste and also added corn starch (water first as a mix) to mix it in and thicken it. Made it the day ahead so it sat in the fridge overnite.
Cranberry sauce is easy to make and I need no ideas or guidance there. It’s so simple to make your own, it’s a wonder why they have it canned at the store. Fresh cranberries, sugar, water and OJ and play with it. It will thicken as it boils and those cranberries start to pop!
The acorn squash was mom’s idea, so I used her recipe she found. It was super simple to do, but the one thing I missed was “dried cranberries” as I had already made the fresh cranberry sauce I decided to use that. Quartering the acorn squash and scooping out the seeds, just drizzle with olive oil and add some brown sugar in the scooped out area. While that is cooking, some butter, chopped walnuts and cranberry sauce, simmer into a nice topping sauce.
Finally the potatoes, my original plan was small red-skinned potatoes, but after multiple runs to the store, we ended up with big ones, so I decided to scallop them and bath them in olive oil and onions and mix them up adding cheese later in the process.
With the new double ovens, the lamb was in the top and the potatoes and squash were on the bottom and cooked for about an hour at 400F. I mixed the potatoes around a bit a few times and added the cheese.
We had a lovely festive setting for our meal. Our dinner was a delight and we most enjoyed this very special Christmas dinner with our Moms.