Everyone seems to rely upon grandma's pecan pie or mom's latkes during the holiday season. The time is practically synonymous with family kitchen traditions.
If you feel it's time to break with the tried-and-true and establish your own stand-out dish, just look to CITYCENTRE, where some of the city's finest chefs encourage out-of-the-box holiday cooking.
Executive chef Todd Williamson from the recently-opened Capital Grille offers this take on the turkey: "To spice things up this holiday season, go beyond the big three of just turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Don't be scared to try something a little different, like replacing regular stuffing with Brioche or making a pumpkin cheesecake rather than a pumpkin pie," adding that Brioche — a rich, buttery bread — adds flavor and moistness to your bird.
"However, regardless of what you decide to prepare, remember to enjoy the time spent with your family," says Williamson, encouraging home cooks to remember the real reason for the season.
Seasons 52, another new CITYCENTRE addition, stays true to its mission of serving fresh, seasonal foods with this alternative to the traditional beef entree: A Maple-Glazed Venison Chop elevates the sportsman's spoils to gourmet. Marinated and coated with the distinctive glaze (see recipe below), and served alongside truffle mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, this rich venison dish won't be soon forgotten.
Looking to impress friends at a festive fete? RA Sushi's signature "Shiso Naughty" is sure to do the trick. Take 1 shiso leaf, 1.5 oz SKYY Pineapple Vodka, 1 oz X-Rated and .5 oz each of yuzu syrup and lemon sour, then shake well, pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with half a strawberry.
If your in-laws' approval is on the line, Texas de Brazil recommends the "Poinsettia." This crimson take on the holiday cocktail is simply .5 oz Cointreau and 3 oz cranberry juice, topped off with champagne.
Need a quick fix for your leftover holiday ham? Chef Cliff Wright from College Station-based Grub Burger Bar recommends a Cuban Sandwich Burger: "Slice the ham and put it on top of your garlic-seasoned burger, then add Swiss cheese and a spicy mustard." Bun and done.
Seasons 52 Maple Bourbon-Glazed Venison
Note: use half to marinate, and use half as glaze
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup bourbon
1 can organic chicken stock, low sodium (10½ ounces)
½ teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot, peeled, minced fine
1 tablespoon thyme, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup water
8 ea venison chops (lamb chops or bone in steak may be substituted)
Combine all ingredients (except cornstarch, water and steaks/chops) in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside ½ cup of marinade. Pour other half of the marinade over the steaks/chops, cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.
In small pot, mix water and cornstarch to make slurry then pour in ½ cup reserved marinade. Cook on medium-high heat for approximately 2-3 minutes until glaze thickens.
Fire up the grill and ensure grill grates are hot, clean, and rubbed with oil. Ensure you have a hot coal fire — your coal base needs to be hot before laying chops on the grill.
Brush steaks/chops with glaze and place on grill. For thick cut steaks and t-bones, always caramelize the sides first. Cook chop at least ½ way on one side to caramelize well before flipping. Avoid cooking over direct flame as this can produce an off-flavor. Check the internal temperature of your steak; 120°F will be on the rare side; 130°F medium, 140°F well done. You can also test by touch: soft is rare, firm is well done.
Ensure the steaks/chops have good caramelization. Remove to a platter for serving. Allow meat to rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Glaze with extra sauce and serve.
*For another interesting flavor, sprinkle on a prepared dry steak rub like "char crust" found in gourmet