Holiday Cooking Tips and Recipes

30400216_smallThe holidays are for spending time with family and celebrating traditions. No matter what traditions your family celebrates, chances are at some point during the holiday season you’ll find yourself sitting around a table for a full-on feast. Preparing a meal of such epic proportions can be a lot of work, and many people end up spending more time in the kitchen than visiting with family. Here to make your holiday cooking a little bit easier, enjoy these tips and recipes from local South Sound chefs. Who knows, maybe these experts will even inspire a few new holiday traditions.

Bill Trudnowski, chef and owner of Tacoma’s Adriatic Grill, shares his tips for preparing turkey, potatoes, salad and cranberry sauce. A perfect medley of holiday flavors.


I know a lot of people like to place stuffing in a turkey while cooking but with such a good ‘seal’ that the stuffing makes, it is hard to get the stuffing and the inside of the turkey properly cooked. What I do is season the entire cavity with a good all-purpose seasoning blend and fill the entire cavity of the turkey with cut up wedges of apples and red onions. This provides a lot of moisture during the cooking process and helps flavor the drippings, which you can then use to make gravy. I like my stuffing cooked separately.

Cooking a turkey upside down(breast side down) can help keep the breast portion more juicy but another option is to cover the entire top portion(breasts) with thick sliced bacon(regular or pancetta). This will help baste the turkey during the cooking process with a little extra juice…..yes fat. The bacon can be discarded after use with a blessing that it did its job well.


The more potatoes the better! Rosemary roasted fingerlings, roasted purple Peruvian with herbs and goat cheese, braised baby reds with parmesan, garlic mashed yukon golds, sweet pots or yams with pecans and those caramelized white pillows of sweetness! My fav! You can never have enough potatoes!


The only salad I like at Thanksgiving is a fun and festive fruit salad like a Waldorf. It really helps with texture and flavor at the table. It’s perceived as a little more healthy, but with a holiday celebration dinner I think healthy is best saved for tomorrow!

Cranberry sauce

ALWAYS take the time to make your own cranberry sauce. It is really easy and most bags of cranberries(fresh or frozen) have cooking instructions with them. If not just hit the internet for a recipe to try. I always use orange juice & zest in mine with just a tiny bit of ginger. Possibilities with cranberry sauce are unlimited and most are easy to make!

Charlie McManus of Tacoma’s Primo Grill and Crown Bar shares a few of his favorite holiday recipes. Test these out in your own kitchen and don’t be surprised if you end up making them again, year after year.

Oven Roasted Rack of Pork

  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 shallot, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 rack of pork, chime off

Puree the first five ingredients and rub over the pork. Position the pork bones up in a roasting pan. Bring to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast until thermometer inserted into pork from center of top registers 140°F, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let pork rest 20 to 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees; meat will be faintly pink).

Chanterelle Gravy

  • ¼ cup  olive oil
  • ⅔ pound chanterelles mushrooms (cleaned of any pine needles and chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and then the chanterelles, thyme and rosemary. Cook for three minutes and then place a lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium-low for 3 minutes. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a sticky roux with the mushrooms. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time, whisking into the roux continually to create a smooth sauce. When all the stock is incorporated, cook, stirring regularly until the sauce reaches the desired thickness, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat but keep warm to serve.

JP’s Pear Cranberry Chutney makes 4 cups

  • 12 ounces organic cranberries
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup organic raisins
  • 2 slightly under ripe Bosc pears, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger root, chopped small
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red onion chopped
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar – not the expensive kind
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer the mixture for 25 minutes or until the berries have burst.  Serve at room temperature.  Keeps refrigerated up to two weeks.

is a contributor to South Sound magazine.
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