Plan Your Festive Feast

Plan Your Festive Feast

Prepare this holiday dinner ahead to enjoy a few days later. Recipes serve 4.

My first ocean voyage took place on a Beneteau 30 entered in the Annapolis to Bermuda Race in 1984. As the least experienced crew member, I was assigned the role of cook. Typically, offshore sailboat racing meals are characterized by hardiness, not tastiness; however, my naïveté led to some interesting results.

The previous winter, I had read William F. Buckley’s Airborne about crossing the Atlantic in high style with his son. I was fascinated by his descriptions of the wonderful dinners and wines consumed during the passage. However, my propensity for seasickness and my lack of offshore experience required that I carefully plan to spend as little time down in the galley as possible. Thus, our trip to Bermuda was marked by serve-yourself breakfast muffins and pastries, make-your-own soup and sandwich lunches, and fabulous, reheated gourmet dinners paired with wine each night.

I still remember vividly the best of these dinner feasts:
• Beef tenderloin with mushroom red wine sauce, and baked stuffed potatoes.
• Grilled chicken teriyaki with pineapple rice paired with Dry Riesling
• Lasagna Bolognese with garlic bread along with Zinfandel
• Brunswick stew, cornbread, and Sauvignon Blanc
• Boeuf Bourguignon, biscuits, and Merlot

I cooked each dinner in advance, then froze each dish flat, wrapped in foil and freezer bags, and packed them (in the order we would eat them) in a cooler on dry ice. Once underway, we defrosted a daily meal, then reheated it gently in the oven or stovetop and served it at sunset. I replicated these dinners in future Bermuda races and Intracoastal Waterway trips with great success.

Below is the perpetual crew favorite dinner on every trip. It is so well-liked that I usually make it for Christmas. While this menu may be prepared ahead and reheated, it is easily cooked using a grill or oven.

Whole Beef Tenderloin
3-4 lbs. whole trimmed beef tenderloin
½ Tbsp. each pepper and salt
4 tsp. minced garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
Preheat grill or oven to 400°F. Place tenderloin in baking pan and season with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. When ready, roast 10 minutes per pound until meat reaches 140-145 degrees. Once cooked, let meat rest for five minutes before slicing. (If cooking ahead, undercook meat to 130 degrees so it will not overcook upon reheating.)
To serve, slice tenderloin into 1½-inch slices. Drizzle meat with mushroom sauce and provide one half potato per person.

Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
1 cup red wine
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. beef base or 2 beef broth cubes
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 tomato, chopped or 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
¼ tsp. each dried oregano or marjoram, basil, and parsley
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. flour

Cook mushrooms and onion in red wine for 10 minutes on medium-high. Add beef base, bay leaves, and tomato, and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in spices and flour and simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Baked Stuffed Potatoes
2 large baking potatoes
1 tsp. oil
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup milk or half-and-half
¼-½ tsp. each salt and pepper
Grated cheese (optional)
Set oven to 400°F. Scrub potatoes, and oil the skin. Bake potatoes in oven for 60-75 minutes (until soft when pressed). Cut potatoes in half. Scoop out cooked potato and place in a medium bowl (preserving the skin for stuffing and baking). Mash cooked potato with butter, milk, salt, and pepper. Stuff mashed potatoes back into skins and top with grated cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 400°F until reheated.

By Lori Ross

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