Chrunchy Christmas

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How is it again? “Have your self a very chrunchy Christmas”… No? Not for me, anyways. Sometimes I get the feeling that someone took the crunch out of Christmas resulting in massive eating extravaganzas leaving my crunch-a-holic self totally unsatisfied and puzzled – is it just me? Surely, it can’t be. Yes, the Danish holiday fare have its crunch, but for me crispy onion rings on top of the pickled herrings or the crunchy cracklings of pork roast just doesn’t quite do it. What about all the cookies and candies, surely they are crunchy? Yes, now you’re on to something but why is it, that all the main courses are so lacking in the crunch department?

Well, enough wining already. Realizing this post is way overdue, who really need Christmas recipes this time a year when all the holiday get-togethers are already well planed or done with, if nothing else this can act as a mental post-it to myself. ‘Cause next year I’m sure to have forgotten what we did this year, and that would be a darn shame, if I’m to judge.

We had pretty much all the relatives from Line’s side of the family for lunch a couple of weekends back. We really couldn’t have squeezed another chair in our rather small living room but hey, it all worked out. There was only one rule in our planning, the cooking part had to be fun so that what was supposed to be a nice day with the family wouldn’t get spoiled by a couple of stressed out hosts hovering over the stoves and grumping out orders to the guests. That turned out to be a good rule of thumb, and when the day arrived we we’re pretty much in control, had done our preparations and only needed to do the finishing touches.

Crunch was a big part of the menu that was lingering somewhere between traditional and innovative. Not foam or things exploding in your mouth-innovative, just twisting old classics a bit. We started out with two dishes from Claus Meyer‘s great book on entertaining guests, Mad til mange (Feeding the crowds), gravad salmon and soused herring. Both dishes proved to be a Meyer take on old Christmas classics, the salmon was marinated in snaps, warm spices and saffron served with toasted rye bread and pickled celery. The salmon takes on a great reddish hue from the saffron that also helps camouflaging the strong snaps flavor. The soused herring was pretty standard fair, except for the pickling liquid that in stead of plain vinegar was a mix of apple cider vinegar, sugar and warm spices. A real treat, the apple aromas doing a world of good to the herrings! Served on rye bread with a relish of grated apples, beets and horse raddish it was an instant classic.

N ow, at a usual crunchless Christmas lunch you would serve the roast. In stead we served a salad. It was the star of the day and it’s not the last time we’ll throw in a salad to cleanse those fat-induced palates with a little zing and zang. The recipe is from Camilla Plum’s new book on Christmas (such a shame for you non-Danish readers but she hasn’t been translated). The idea is slicing up 3 large apples a small stalk celery and a fennel bulb. Mix with 100 g of dried cranberries and a dressing made of olive oil, crushed garlic, apple vinegar, walnut oil and salt. Mix it all when ready to serve and drizzle with pomegranate seeds. It’s highly recommended, some might even say addictive.

Then on to the roast, we chose a pork loin braised in beer and apple juice along with peers and celery (also from the Meyer book). At the end of cooking, reduce the braising juices until you get a thick, dark sauce. Squeeze the pears through a sieve and slice up a couple of fresh ones adding to the vegetables cooked with the roast. Drizzle with toasted cubes of rye bread over the vegetables for that extra crunch – you didn’t think I had forgotten, did ya?

After that ordeal, sometimes eating can be challenging, it was on to the sweets: chocolate covered pickled ginger and orangettes, homemade English style fudge with rum and nuts and the like. Not to brag or anyting (well, maybe just a little) but we were thorougly pleased with the menu – the guest were nice too, mind you – and opting for a snack kind of desert was a great idea. In stead of pudding, people munched on the different snacks and sipping a little coffee in between. And I for one had had my chrunchy Christmas hopes fulfilled.

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