We have a wealth of diversity in L.A.'s chef community and, unsurprisingly, their holiday traditions and recipes are just as diverse. Read about their traditions here, and see below for a sampling of holiday recipes, from Armenian porridge to beef tongue stew.
Genevieve Gergis' Super Crispy Waffles
(Served Christmas morning)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, use 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice; liquid to total 1 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, yolk and white separated
Note: Buttermilk and egg need to be room temperature or else your melted butter will clump up and your egg white won't get as fluffy.
1. Preheat waffle iron (I use Belgium) to high and preheat oven to 180.
2. Whisk all dry ingredients except for sugar in a bowl.
3. Whisk buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla and egg yolk together and then add to dry ingredients.
4. Whisk egg white and sugar until fluffy and glossy and gently fold into batter until any white streaks are faint and fine.
5. Lightly oil your waffle iron so the waffles don't stick. Add batter to waffle iron and cook until iron stops steaming and waffle is deep golden. Place waffles into oven — doing this before serving allows them to stay warm until everyone can eat together, but it also crisps them up further.
6. Serve with melted butter, warm real maple syrup and bacon for a balanced meal.
Andrea Borgen's Holiday French 75
1 oz. gin
3/4 oz. oleo saccharum
3/4 oz. lemon juice
Place gin, oleo saccharum and lemon juice in a champagne flute, stir. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon twist.
Bruce Kalman's Halibut Croquetas with Almond Romesco
(Served Christmas Eve as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes )
1 cup olive oil
1 ½ cups almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
10 San Marzano canned tomatoes
2 cups roasted red bell peppers
1/8 cup Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons oil from Calabrian chilies
salt and pepper to taste
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
2 lb halibut fillet, poached and chilled
2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, peeled and put through a ricer
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
zest of 3 Meyer lemons
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs beaten with a little water
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, and mix evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, portion the mixture into balls; roll between your hands until smooth and round.
2. Set up a breading station in 3 separate containers with AP flour, eggs beaten with a touch of water and, finally, breadcrumbs (also have a small tray or plate for the finished product). Keeping one hand dry and one hand wet, begin breading with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs; the croquetas should be well coated.
3. Preheat a pot of oil or a deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Cook the croquetas until golden brown, crispy, and hot in the center, about 5 minutes. Remove from the fryer and immediately season with salt. Serve right away, topped with romesco.
Vartan Abgaryan's Anush Apur (Armenian Sweet Winter Porridge)
(Served between New Year's Eve and Jan. 6)
2 cups wheat berries, dry, soaked overnight. Should double in size to 4 cups.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
10 cups water
2 ½ cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts, reserved
1. Melt butter and add flour to make a roux. Add water, wheat berries and spices, and bring to a slow simmer. Add dried fruits and cook 30 minutes to thicken.
2. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Add the nuts and turn off the heat. Place porridge into individual bowls and chill in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
3. Sprinkle the top of the chilled porridge with the chopped walnuts and, if desired, some ground cinnamon.
Chef Zach Pollack's Slow-Cooked Brisket
(Serves 16-20. Allow two days for preparation and up to 13 hours cooking time.)
8- to 14-lb beef brisket (Pollack recommends high-quality, marbled “point” cut)
5 yellow onions, roughly chopped
6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head celery, roughly chopped
2 heads garlic, split crosswise
6 sprigs rosemary
3 bay leaves
4 branches thyme
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon juniper berries
3 cups red wine
4 quarts homemade beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1. At least a day before you plan to serve the brisket, trim excess fat from the meat, taking care to leave at least a quarter-inch-thick layer of the stuff. This fat cap will keep the brisket from drying out. Do not, under any circumstance, remove too much.
2. Place the trimmed fat in a medium saucepan with a quarter cup of water, and place in the oven at 150-200 degrees , or as low a temperature as your oven can successfully maintain. Cook for 6 to 8 hours, strain the liquid (discard solids), and place over medium-low heat to boil out excess moisture. At the end of the process, you should be left with clean, clear, liquid beef fat. Let cool and refrigerate.
3. While your brisket fat is rendering, season the meat liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 24 hours and up to 72.
4. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot (preferably a braiser or Dutch oven) over high heat. Add enough of the rendered fat to come about a third of the way up the sides of the pan (be careful as any excess moisture will splatter). When the fat has melted and begins to smoke, add the brisket and sear on all sides. Remove and set aside.
5. Carefully pour off any excess grease, leaving just enough to come about a quarter-inch up the sides of the pan. Lower the heat to medium, then add onion, carrot and celery, and cook until brown. Add red wine, increase heat to high, and reduce liquid by about a third.
6. Using cheesecloth and kitchen twine, tie the garlic, rosemary, bay, thyme, peppercorns and juniper into a sachet and add to pot. Add the brisket, then pour in enough beef stock to cover the meat almost completely. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover tightly (with a lid or aluminum foil, taking care to seal the pot as well as possible) and place in the oven. Depending on the size of the cut and on the actual temperature of your oven, the brisket may require anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to cook. Slide a metal skewer into the thickest part of the meat to check doneness. The skewer should slide in and out with consistent, minimal resistance. If you notice there is more resistance in the center of the meat than closer to the surface, the brisket is not yet ready.
7. When the brisket is done cooking, remove from oven and uncover. Letting the meat cool in its cooking liquid will take more time but will make for a moister product in the end, so be patient. Increase the oven temp to 450 degrees.
8. When the brisket is cool enough to handle, remove from liquid and place in a roasting pan. Strain the cooking liquid and reduce by half. Discard the vegetables (or mash them up and mix with kibble for a special treat for your dog).
9. Roast the brisket in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Baste with reduced cooking liquid every 10 or so minutes for the first 20 minutes, then increase frequency. You should be basting the meat every 2 to 3 minutes in the final 10 minutes. When the surface of the brisket is an irresistible landscape of sizzling, slightly burnt peaks and glossy, jus-lacquered valleys, it¹s ready to serve.
10. Slice the meat against the grain into half-inch thick pieces and serve with a drizzle of the rich cooking liquid.
Chef Danny Elmaleh's Beef Tongue Stew
1 beef tongue, peeled
3 onions chopped fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
7 cloves garlic, chopped fine
6 cups red wine
2 cups port wine
2 cups canned crushed tomato
12 cups veal stock
4 bay leaf
1/2 bunch thyme
1. Season tongue liberally with salt and pepper and sear over high heat on all sides in a deep, heavy pot. Add vegetables and cook together with tongue until lightly tender. Add wine and port and reduce liquid by half.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for three hours until tender.
3. Remove tongue and set aside. Strain the liquid, return to heat and reduce to sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Slice tongue into 1-inch slices and pour sauce on top. Garnish with parsley.