Philly Chef’s Favorite Holiday Recipes

By Jeffrey B. Roth

When Chef Christopher Allen Tanner’s extended family gathers for the winter holidays, not surprisingly, he does the lion’s share of the cooking – “especially for Christmas,” he adds.

Luckily for Chef Tanner (and his family), his job as director of the Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College allows him to be home, cooking up a storm come Christmas day. “As I am in education these days, I am one of the lucky chefs to have Christmas off so I get to live out many of the traditions found from my Alsatian history from my mother’s side of the family,” Chef Tanner said. For those not familiar, Alsace is a small region in France, found on the west bank of the upper Rhine River. “Christmas is important to anyone of Alsatian descent, as anyone with some knowledge of Christmas history would know – many of our modern Christmas traditions began in Alsace-Lorraine, specifically Strasbourg where my mother’s parents were from. We also have a goose with chestnut stuffing along with Kugelhof, and some other traditions.” Chef Tanner has graciously shared some of his favorite holiday recipes with us so that we can try them out at home this season. Impress your friends and loved ones this holiday with these amazing, chef-created recipes.

Flammekueche / Tarte Flambe – Alsatian tarte/pizza
Serves 4-6
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Spaten (beer)
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced thin
1 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream if unavailable)
4 oz. bacon, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces
Preparation methods:
Dough – mix together water, sugar, yeast in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes. Combine the beer and milk and add to the yeast mixture. Combine the yeast mixture with the flour and salt in a mixer and mix to smooth elastic dough. Add very small amounts of additional flour or milk if necessary. Butter a medium-sized bowl, roll the ball around in the butter, then cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch down and reserve.
Topping – heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onions are very soft and well browned. Season the crème fraîche with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Assembly – heat the oven to 450 degrees. Oil a 14-by-16-inch baking sheet. Roll the dough until slightly smaller than the baking sheet and place on the sheet tray. Spread the crème fraiche over the dough and top with the sautéed onions and bacon. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tart is lightly browned.
Brussels sprouts with chestnuts
Serves 6-8
2 lbs. brussels sprouts, quartered
1 lb. peeled chestnuts
1/4 lb. smoked bacon, diced
1 each yellow onion, diced
2 each Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup apple cider
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
To taste black pepper, fresh ground
Preparation methods:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a paring knife or a chestnut knife to cut a large X into the shell of each chestnut on one side. Drop chestnuts a handful at a time into the boiling water, boil for 5 minutes, and remove from water. Immediately remove and discard shells, keeping chestnuts whole if possible. Set peeled chestnuts aside.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon from pan leaving the rendered fat in pan. Add Brussels sprouts; season with pepper, cook stirring occasionally until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Add the onions and apples; continue to sauté for an additional 4-5 minutes or until apples begin to soften. Add chestnuts, vinegar, apple cider, and sugar, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until chestnuts are tender.
Remove cover from pan, cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has been reduced about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, top with rendered bacon and serve.
Herbes de Provence salt roasted beets
Serves 4

2 pounds beets
2 tablespoons dried savory
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried lavender
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried fennel seed
24 ounces kosher salt
8 ounces egg whites

Preparation methods:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine herbes de provence, kosher salt, and egg whites until well-mixed. Put a layer of the salt mixture along the bottom of a roasting dish, place the beets on top of the salt mixture and then top and completely cover the beets with a smooth layer of the remaining salt mixture.
Place the beets in the oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the salt crust is well browned. Remove the beets from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Crack the crust, remove the beets and rub the skin off them.
To serve, dice the beets and serve with crumbled blue cheese.
Choucroute Garni
Serves 4
4 ounces sliced bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Idaho potato, large, diced
1 pound sauerkraut, well-rinsed
2 cups Alsatian Gewürztraminer
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
6 juniper berries
6 black peppercorns, crushed
12 ounces slab bacon, cut into 3-ounce chunks
12 ounces smoked pork chops, cut into 3-ounce chucks
4 knockwurst sausages or bratwurst 
Preparation methods:
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the diced bacon and render the fat from it. Once the fat has been rendered from the bacon, add the diced onion and sauté until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot except the sausage. Bring to a simmer, cover for 45 minutes or until the bacon and pork chop pieces have become fork tender and the potatoes are soft. Add the sausage to the pot and simmer covered until the sausages are heated through. Remove bay leaf and juniper berries and serve.
Alsatian Style Roast Goose


1 each Goose (9 to 10 lbs.)

10 slices Whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
¼ lb. Bacon, chopped
1 each Yellow onion, chopped small
2 each Shallots, minced
¼ lb. Brussels Sprouts, sliced thin
1 each Granny smith apples, chopped medium
2 tsp. Fresh thyme, minced
1 lb. Roasted chestnuts, peeled and quartered
1 cup Spaten Optimator Beer

1 cup Alsatian Gewürztraminer
2 cups Chicken broth
Preparation methods:
In a large sauté pan, render the bacon. Add the onions, shallots, Brussels sprouts, apples, and thyme and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes or until apples have softened. Add the chestnuts, bread, and beer and mix well.

Roasting the goose: Heat an oven to 450°F. Wipe the inside of the goose with paper towels and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff goose with stuffing mixture, truss the goose. Place the goose on a roasting rack and roast for 40 minutes or until the skin begins to brown. Once the skins begins to brown, prick the skin of the bird to release excess fat, turn the bird over so that the breast side is down and place back into the oven, reducing the heat to 350 degrees. Roast for an additional hour, turn the bird back breast side up and continue to roast until the bird is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear. A thermometer should read 165 degrees F when inserted into the center of the stuffing mixture.

Remove the goose from the oven; allow it to rest for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Gravy: Dispose of all but 2 tablespoons fat from the roasting pan, add two tablespoons flour. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat and stir flour into fat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add wine, bring it to a boil scrapping the pan to dislodge caramelized bits on bottom of the pan and reduce the liquid by half. Add the broth, and simmer the gravy until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

To Serve: Remove stuffing from goose, slice goose tableside and serve with stuffing and gravy.

Alsatian apple pie

Serves 6-8

1 pie crust in 9 inch pan
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream 
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cherry brandy
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4″ thick wedges
Preparation methods:
Prepare custard by whisking the eggs, ½ cup of sugar together until light in color, add the cream, cherry brandy, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line pie crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly.
Evenly fill prebaked pie shell with apples, cover apples with custard mixture.
Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Place pie in over bake for 40 minutes or until the center is firm. Transfer pie to rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.

About Chef Christopher Allen Tanner
Director of the Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, Chef Tanner worked as executive chef at Winnisook Club and Merlin Hospitality in New York, and the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, California. In 2010, he was recognized by ACF Capital District-Central New York as Chef of the Year and in 2011, as Chef Educator of the Year. During his career, he has garnered more than 35 medals in culinary competitions and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Chefs.

Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College

340 DeKalb Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422
(215) 641-6300

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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