Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece

One of my favorite parts of the days leading up to Christmas is finalizing what we are going to eat for dinner that day. Thanksgiving is fun and all, but you are pretty much locked in with turkey every year. Christmas, on the other hand, presents endless options, especially when you start looking at how other countries celebrate.

On the Ninth Day of Imported Christmas, we made made porchetta to see if this Italian specialty deserved a spot in the rotating Christmas dinner menu (Too impatient to read to the end? The answer is a resounding yes).

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Pumpple Cake—Philadelphia’s Quadruple Dessert

Desserts tend to get much more lavish around the holidays. This could be because people have time off (and therefore more time to spend in the kitchen). It could also be because everyone has stopped counting calories and resigned themselves to eating three days worth of sugar in one sitting.

On the Eighth Day of Imported Christmas, we stopped trying to decide which desserts to make and just made all of them at once in the form of a pumpple cake.

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Figgy Pudding—England’s Fiery Festive Centerpiece

Figgy pudding has confused many a modern caroler in America, though we all just kept asking for it and threatening to loiter until we got some. Having now tried the famous dish, I have to say, I wouldn’t ever turn down a slice. It is warm, rich, and extremely Christmasy.

On the Sixth Day of Imported Christmas, we set a boiled figgy pudding on fire to make the dessert course both more festive and more dangerous.

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Rellenong Manok—The Phillipines’ Elaborately Stuffed Christmas Chicken

This season isn’t the first time Gordon has deboned an entire chicken for the sake of stuffing it with other things and roasting it (see Whole-Roasted Chicken Cordon Bleu). But this Filipino dish takes stuffing to a whole new level.

On the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we turned a chicken and a whole bunch of ingredients we’d never put together before into rellenong manok.

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Stargazy Pie—Cornwall’s Town-Saving Fish Dish

Gordon first described Stargazy Pie to me without showing me a picture. I was drawn in by the whimsical name and legend of a stormy night, a brave fisherman, and an entire town saved by a hearty fish pie. By the time I saw a photo of scaly fish heads and tails bursting through pastry, I was too convinced to back down.

On the Third Day of Imported Christmas, we used seven different types of fish to make our own Stargazy Pie.

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Mince Pies—England’s Medieval Advent Treat

We were watching the Rick Steves Christmas special (again) last week with the 12 days of Christmas on the brain. So when Rick mentioned that an English family was baking mince pies so they could eat one for each of the 12 days, we took notice. 

On the Sixth Day of Imported Christmas, we baked tiny mince pies. We were too excited to make them from scratch, so we cheated, using canned mince and frozen pie dough. We also only managed to get nine pies out of the ingredients, so we’ll have to make more to finish out our 12 days. 

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Julbord—Sweden’s Christmas Feast

Christmas is for eating your favorite food with the people you love. Unfortunately, sometimes the people you love can’t agree on what that favorite food should be. Rather than risk hurt feelings and grouchy faces at the table by choosing the wrong dish, follow Sweden’s lead: don’t choose. Have them all. You can’t have a true Swedish Christmas without a buffet of all the Scandinavian classics with a few modern favorites thrown in for good measure. So on the Fifth Day of Imported Christmas, we are having a julbord.

The standard julbord spread includes pickled herring (three kinds), smoked salmon, preserved cod, eggs, ham, roast meat, pate, salads, meatballs, smoked sausages, glazed ribs, red cabbage, rice pudding, saffron buns, chocolate fondant, tarts, truffles, flatbreads, crackers, and anything else the family wants.

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Chicken Bones—New Brunswick’s Crunchy Christmas Treat

Last weekend, we told my friend’s six children that we were giving them chicken bones for Christmas. They were horrified. Granted, this wasn’t the first time that week we’d given them something weird in the name of international holiday traditions, so they were suspicious.* If you told a group of children in New Brunswick the same thing, I imagine they’d be delighted. So for the Third Day of Imported Christmas, we’re eating Chicken Bones.

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Sfincione—Sicily’s Christmas Pizza

With holiday plans cancelled, travel suspended, and everyone stuck at home with the same people, pets, and dwindling stash of toilet paper every day, we figured there’s never been a better time to import some Christmas cheer. We’re counting down 12 international holiday traditions that you can incorporate this year to make Christmas 2020 memorable for more pleasant reasons than the global pandemic.

I already need very little excuse to eat pizza, so when I heard that Sicilians have an extra savory pizza for Christmas, I knew we had to try it out. On the First Day of Imported Christmas, we made sfincione.

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Sourdough Onion Rings

So you’ve made a sourdough starter, you’re feeding it daily and making delicious bread. What are you supposed to do with the discard you pull out to make room for the feeding? Make onion rings of course!

Using sourdough starter as onion ring batter makes for crispy, fluffy onion rings with a slightly sour flavor (like buttermilk). We really enjoyed them and will definitely be making them again. Continue reading