Christmas Eve Dinner, 2020

December 29, 2020

There is a long tradition in France, particularly in the south, of an important meal on Christmas Eve, sometimes after a midnight mass. We usually follow this tradition, but earlier in the evening with guests. Then we go to a restaurant on Christmas Day. This year presented particular restraints, with all the restaurants in France closed,  So we were happy that our neighbors, Suzy and Jean-Pierre, could join us on Christmas Eve.

We entertained less this year due to Covid restrictions, but we decorated for Christmas. as always.  This locally-made, fresh chocolate tree on our dining table was a gift from Marie-Thérèse.

The wooden Austrian music box was my mother’s when she was a girl. You wind it up and press a little lever. It plays Silent Night and the angels go around.

Linda bought vegetables at the stand in our market square that morning. Included was a fresh celery root. While preparing lunch, I peeled it and cut it into chunks. I sprinkled in some caraway seeds, topped them with butter and put the pan in a medium hot oven for five hours. Crème fraîche was added and they were puréed with an immersion blender.

Jean-Pierre and Suzy own Le Montrachet, hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in Burgundy’s Puligny-Montrachet. He brought the wines for this evening. For apéritif we had a 2008 Meursault-Genevrières from the Hospices de Beaune. It was still in good condition, softened with the earthy Genevrières characteristics.  We continued with it for the first course.

Linda had also bought a bouquet of fresh violet artichokes. I stripped and quartered them and braised them in olive oil.

They accompanied cod filets which I had enhanced with anise, anchovies and tomato sauce. They were wrapped in brick and baked just before serving..

I am sorry I did not remember to photograph this plate when ready to serve, or the main course plate, but there was a lot going on.

We moved on to the red wines.


The cheffe at our tennis club, whose restaurant is closed while the outdoor clay tennis courts of our club remain open, prepared this truffled foie gras en terrine for us. It was excellent.

I served it next with fig compote and toasted fig/walnut bread.

Jean-Pierre had suggested that the Volnay would go well with it and he was right.

I had bought a red label chicken at our local grocery store. The Red Label means that it would be called “free range” in the U.S., but I think that the standards and enforcement are higher in France.

To stuff it, I assembled rosemary and sage from our garden, with garlic cloves and lardons. Filling the inside not only adds flavors, but slows the cooking of the white meat.

Here it is stuffed and on the spit for the electric rotisserie in our lower oven.

And here it is after two hours of spit roasting.

And after carving. Jean-Pierre loves chicken carcasses and he took this one home for lunch the next day.

I served the chicken quarters with the celery root purée, braised carrots and chestnuts. 

The traditional finish to a Christmas meal in France, if you are not having “the thirteen desserts” of provençale tradition, is a bûche de Noël, or Christmas log. Pastry shops offer these in many varieties. We ordered a Grand Marnier version, which came with ice cream, sorbet and cake inside.

We were happy to enjoy a festive meal with our friends. On Christmas Day we just stayed home.  

2 Responses to “Christmas Eve Dinner, 2020”

  1. Faraut jean pierre Says:

    We Enjoyed the dinner🍷🍾🇺🇸🇫🇷

    JPF Sent from my iPhone


  2. Karen Long Dwight Says:

    Lovely dinner! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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