Prepare the Way for a Creole-style Christmas Eve Réveillon

cropped-reveillon-raw-header.jpgThe First Mass of Christmas is always an exciting time, and in the old days New Orleaneans continued to celebrate once home and on through the night.  The Lord is here!  A special spread of food would be laid out to enjoy leisurely through the small hours of Christmas morning.  This was the Christmas Eve Réveillon, a custom the Creoles brought from France.

There would always be champagne, and in short time Daube Glacé became a standard item.  “Daube”, for a boiled stew, and “glacé”, as in frozen or jellied.  It would be prepared from the remnants of a Boeuf Daube enjoyed several days earlier.  Other favorite and festive food items would round out the menu, along with more champagne.

By the 1990s many restaurants in the city began to feature special fix prix “Réveillon Dinners” for the month of December.   While not entirely in the spirit of the original réveillon (which, like many other New Orleans celebrations, requires a religious observance – think Mardi Gras followed by Ash Wednesday, or Hallowe’en followed by All Saints), these dinners are popular and good.  They reflect the modern movement of the Christmas season into Advent.

Some notes about the menu from Brian Reid:

  1. Beef Stock is best made at home. To make five quarts of stock, the extra of which will make hearty soups during the cold months ahead, you will need five pounds of beef and bones.   I use about 3½ pounds of the cheapest soup shanks – not the pretty ones, but the more fatty ones from the ends.   I also use about 1½ pounds of bone in stew meat.   Place the meat and bones into a roasting pan and the pan into a 425˚ oven for two hours.   After one hour of roasting I add to the pan and its meat four onions, unpeeled and quartered; the ends of several stalks of celery; and five carrots, unpeeled and in half inch lengths.   After the two hour roasting I dump the meat and vegetables into a large stockpot, and pour in five to six quarts of water.   Bring this to a boil, then reduce to the barest simmer, and simmer like this for 10 to 12 hours.   Do not stir and do not salt the stock at any time.  After the simmering time is up I strain it through a cheesecloth lined colander placed over a second stockpot, quickly chill the strained stock, then bottle it for use.   It will keep for a week in the refrigerator, and a year or more in the freezer.
  1. I like to make the Boeuf Daube for the fourth Sunday of Advent (that’s today), a special dinner to mark the imminent arrival of Christmas.  Of course, this requires having a few days between Fourth Advent and Christmas Eve.  You’ll want about a pound of the cooked roast to remain for the Daube Glacé.
  1. The remaining foods are favorites of my household for réveillon. The meal is really like a table of snacks and appetizers, a rich affair that comes only once each year.  Christmas sweets can round out the meal, and I usually slice the fruitcake for the first time on Christmas Eve.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.  ~ Psalm 36:7-9


Boeuf Daube
(6 to 8 servings – often best when made the day before)

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ pound sliced salt pork, cut into strips 2 inches long and ¼ inch on the sides
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic, minced, to make ¼ cup
  • 5 pound beef shoulder roast, or a 5 to 5½ pound bottom round roast
  • ½ cup bacon drippings or vegetable oil, or a mixture of the two
  • 2 medium-large onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 to 5 carrots, chopped, to make 2 cups
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 quart brown beef stock, plus ½ quart more if needed

Mix together pork, salt, pepper, and half of garlic cloves (1/4 cup) in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cut 6 to 8 one inch slits into the beef shoulder roast, and stuff the slits with the salt pork and garlic mixture.  Season the outside of the roast with salt and pepper.

Heat bacon drippings/oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Brown the roast on all sides and remove to a platter.

Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and additional garlic (1/4 cup) to the hot drippings and sauté this mixture (often called the “Trinity and the Pope’s head”) until the vegetables are wilted.

Blend tomato sauce, carrots, wine, and beef stock into the “Trinity” mixture, bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and add the roast.

Add stock if needed to mostly cover the roast.  Cover the pot and simmer until roast is tender, about 2½ hours.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Remove the cooked roast and allow to sit on a cutting board while you strain a good portion of the cooking liquid into a fat separator.  Let the fat rise to the top in the separator, then pour the sauce into a gravy boat.  Slice the roast and serve with the defatted sauce.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Place all the leftovers (roast, strained sauce, the vegetables, and the cooking liquid) into one container and refrigerate to make the Daube Glacé (recipe below) the next day.


Daube Glacé

Ingredients:
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup warm water

Remove the remains of the roast from the refrigerated container and place on a cutting board.   Strain the liquid left in the container, leaving the cooking vegetables in the strainer and the liquid in a pot.   As the vegetables strain, finely mince or shred one pound of the beef.   (Any remaining roast can be used for sandwiches.)

Place the strained cooking liquid in a fat separator, working in batches if your separator is not large enough.   Place the defatted cooking liquid into a large saucepan and boil it down to 2 cups.  (If the defatted liquid is already at 2 cups, or is less, then add a cup or two of fresh brown beef stock, the fat removed from its surface, and boil the combined liquid down to 2 cups.)   Remove the liquid from the heat once it reaches 2 cups.

Add parsley to the reduced liquid, and correct the seasoning with salt and cayenne.

Dissolve the gelatin in the warm water in a small bowl, then whisk it into the reduced liquid. Allow this to cool slightly.

While the liquid cools combine the minced meat with about half the vegetables from the strainer and place them in an eight by four inch mold (such as a glass loaf dish), or Le Creuset’s 1½ quart pate mold.  Do not pack the meat and vegetables into the mold.

Pour the slightly cooled liquid and gelatin mixture over the meat and vegetables.   Cover this with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

Unmold the Daube Glacé onto an oblong serving plate and serve with thin slices of garlic toast.


Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • Two 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 10 strips bacon, fried crisp, then chopped
  • 5 green onions, minced fine
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • About ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine thoroughly in a medium bowl with your hands.   Chill in the bowl for a couple hours, or overnight, then form into a ball.

Place the nuts in a pie plate, then roll the ball in the nuts to coat.

Serve with assorted crackers.


Eggs Stuffed with Crabmeat
Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • ¾ cup (4 ounces) crab meat
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 celery ribs, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or less
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • paprika

Cut each hard-boiled egg in half lengthwise, and remove the yolks to a medium bowl.

Set the whites aside, and mash the yolks.

Drain and flake crab meat, checking for shell bits and cartilage. Add to the egg yolks.

Add mayonnaise, celery, mustard, salt, and cayenne to the egg yolks and crabmeat.   Stir to combine well, then spoon into the egg whites.

Sprinkle paprika over the eggs.

This recipe is easily doubled. A small container of crab meat is 8 ounces. Use 3 celery ribs if doubling.

There may be more filling than the eggs can hold, in which case the surplus is great on crackers!


Brie en Croute
8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup whole walnuts
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 ounce wheel Brie cheese
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

Defrost puff pastry at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, then unfold onto a large rimmed baking sheet.

Sauté the walnuts in the butter in a saucepan until they turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir cinnamon into the mixture and set it aside.

Unwrap Brie and place on the puff pastry.

Sprinkle brown sugar over the Brie wheel.

Top Brie with the walnut mixture.

Gather up the edges of the puff pastry, pressing them around the coated Brie. Gather the corners of the pastry at the top, squeezing the edges together.  Tie the four corners at the top with kitchen twine.

Brush egg over the top and sides of the Brie package.

Place in the oven and bake at 375˚ for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with assorted crackers.

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications. (With thanks to Karen Mackey, Communications Coordinator, The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Navajo Fry Bread & Blue Corn Mush

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