Traditional Christmas Cooking

Creating the ultimate traditional Christmas meal is all about capturing the flavors of the season. While it isn`t unusual to serve turkey at Christmas dinner, tradition dictates that ham is the protein of choice. Hams are typically fully cooked so they`re actually easier to fix than the traditional Thanksgiving bird and the honey or brown sugar glaze adds the perfect touch of flavor. >

To preserve the flavor of a spiral sliced ham, bake it cut-side down with a foil tent on top. Remove the foil for the last fifteen or twenty minutes to glaze, but read the instruction label carefully for more precise times. It doesn`t take long to reheat a fully cooked ham, so you can turn much of your prep time to other things.

Prepare your shopping list three or four weeks in advance. The earlier you plan, the easier it is to pick up a few items here and there during regular grocery store trips. That way, you aren`t spending one lump sum on holiday items. If you have an idea of what you`ll be serving soon enough, start stocking up on canned green beans, fried onions, soups, canned pumpkin and other non-perishables right after Thanksgiving.

As for side dishes, it`s traditional to serve at least one potato dish. While you probably served sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, keep in mind that the honey glazed ham is quite sweet so you may prefer to serve a savory potato dish. Opt for something like Potatoes Grand`Mere, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, or Potatoes Au Gratin. Green bean salad is another great holiday item and is the perfect dish to cut down on the sweetness of the ham. Other options include traditional fruit gelatin salad, plum pudding, sausage balls and stuffing. Cultural specialties include Scandinavian lutefisk, Greek yiaprakia (stuffed cabbage) and Mexican ponche (punch).

No matter which holiday food items you choose, don`t be too ambitious. Keep it simple and make sure the menu is realistic. Do you have all of the utensils and kitchen space to accommodate your menu? Will your oven hold as many items as you`re hoping to fix at once?