This blog is written by celebrity chef and THOR Kitchen brand ambassador Chef Derrick Fox as he shares his favorite recipes with step-by-step directions, pictures and his signature style.
Like all families, the holidays always reveal its most interesting dynamics, whether your family is large or small or made up friends: you know the family you choose. My family is all over the place, and I wouldn’t be able to explain all the different dynamics and personalities in one blog post, but I can assure you, you are not alone. I have had the entire family together, multiple family gatherings, the divorced household, the stepdad Christmas, the friends Christmas, a Christmas alone, and a Christmas with the family I have made with my wife and our dog and cat! Whatever your situation, there are wonderful memories that we all hang on to, most of which revolve around food.
I remember when I was young and living in Florida with my mom, biological father and younger brother. Around the holidays, shortly after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, my grandmother Rosalie would send a box of Pizzelle: little Italian cookies pressed and cooked in a waffle iron that looked like it was meant to make the cookie in the shape of a snow flake.
Pizzelle, photo credit The Kitchn
I come from a long line of strong Italian women, and in Italian families, most traditions involve cooking. Through my childhood, my life changed a lot, we moved a lot – I never had the opportunity of staying in one place very long, so that meant new friends, different family members, and never sticking around long enough to form a tradition….except those Pizzelle. It didn’t matter where in the country we were, I could count on that box arriving. Crispy, flat, almond or vanilla flavored cookies. We loved them. My grandmother years later passed the tradition down to my mom and my aunt. In my teens, I remember my mom and dad (stepdad) making them for a few years and we would take them over to my grandparents’ house to keep the one tradition we had alive. Needless to say, the tradition fizzled out when my brothers and I moved to different corners of the country and well, my parents stopped cooking them. I guess the moral of that story is that it’s a good memory and I can always try and start it up again.
Now that I am older and a chef, I have developed my own personal traditions. Traditions that stick with me no matter who is present. For Thanksgiving, I always make Beef Wellington – every year it gets better, and every year new people get to enjoy it. For Christmas I make a rack of lamb. I’ve always loved making lamb, but when I made it for Gordon Ramsay, I learned I made it very well. I’ve made it for many people at all different times of year, but it’s extra special on Christmas, and now I’m going to share that recipe with you!
Its simple, cook it like a steak. Salt & pepper, sear on all sides, based with garlic, thyme, shallots, butter, and finish in the oven for a couple minutes depending on how thick your chops are to your preferred doneness. I’ll break it down below. ⏬
New Year’s…. As a kid, my parents changed the clocks in the house to 4 hours ahead and put on the ball drop from a time zone that worked for their plan and put us to bed at 8:30. I was not happy about that when they told us when we got older. They thought it was hilarious.
I’ve always loved New Year’s as an adult, because growing up there were times we didn’t have much, and New Year’s felt like a taste of the high life. Champagne wishes and Caviar dreams. I love them both. Below are some tips to enjoying caviar and impressing your friends with fun ways to eat it.
|Rack of Lamb
|Rack of Lamb x2
||Large cast iron pan or large sauté pan
|4 tbsp butter
||Large pasting spoon
|4 cloves of garlic
|Salt and pepper
When you purchase the racks of lamb, look for Frenched: it’s the way the fat cap is trimmed (If it’s not already frenched, ask the butcher to French it for you). Pull your lamb out of the fridge 45 minutes before cooking to come to room temp. I recommend slicing the rack into doubles, meaning two rib bones per piece of loin. If you like them single, you will skip the oven step.
Set up your basting mise en place, by slicing the shallots thick, peeling the garlic cloves and give them a quick smash, but do not cut them. You want the garlic to be whole pieces. Smashing them opens them up for the butter to run through.
Now heavily salt and pepper your lamb. Get your pan hot. Add grapeseed oil to the pan and sear the lamb for 1.5-2 minutes on each side. Left, right, then the fat side. Once on the fat side, at the garlic, thyme, shallots, and butter to the pan. Take a large spoon and baste the butter over the lamb for 45 seconds. Then put the pan with the lamb in the oven for 4 minutes for medium, and 6 minutes for medium well. Times will vary depending on the thickness of the lamb chops and how hot your stove gets when you sear. It might take you a couple tries to figure out your timing. Serve with mashed potatoes and a red wine sauce on Christmas and it will be talked about until the ball drops on New Year’s. 🎄🥂
Now let’s talk caviar! Its fancy, it can be expensive, and when you have it served at your party, it means that your party is at a different level! It says you have a sophisticated palate, a desire for nice things, and you are a generous host. The next day your guests will tell their friends about the caviar if you serve it right!
- On ice with sides of minced shallots, chives, and chopped hard-boiled eggs, crème fraiche, and toast points.
If you want to make it a classic tray-passed app, you can serve the caviar on a blini with a dollop of crème fraiche. A blini is like a savory mini pancake. The easiest way to do this is get the paleo pancake batter from whole foods, make the batter and put it in a squeeze bottle. Squeeze out tiny little bite-size pancakes in the pan and cook on low heat on both sides. Top with a small dollop of CF, then top with a spoon full of caviar, and sprinkle chives.
Fun way to serve:
- Caviar on ice, sour cream, and your favorite salty potato chips. Classic flavors in a fun hip way.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my journey and some helpful tips to elevate your holiday season. This year is a little different and your gatherings should be small, but these will impress regardless. Take photos and tag @ThorKitchen and @ChefDerrickFox so I can see all the deliciousness you create!
Cheers, Happy Holidays! …. And Good Riddance to 2020!!!!