The Most Christmassy Christmas Dinner Of All Time

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
We've always wondered what Santa and his crew of elves eat on Christmas Eve. Think about it: Those final hours before St. Nick's big sleigh departure are serious crunch time for possibly the greatest toy-making craftspeople that ever were. No ordinary Seamless order will suffice. This particular staff meal must not only honor a full year's worth of dedicated elfin labor, but also deliver a hearty, locally sourced supper that brings joy to the table and sends Santa off in style. We imagine this magical dinner party being savored right at the elves’ worktable, while they frantically put finishing touches on innumerable gifts, and Santa and Mrs. Claus busily make some last-minute adjustments to that Naughty-or-Nice list.
Of course, since the boss himself will later be downing cookies and milk in millions of homes across the globe, we think a lighter (but still nourishing) meal would fit the bill: Think homemade bone broth with chicken dumplings, gravlax, freshly made limpa bread, and finally, sugar-plum-fairy puffs with steamy hot chocolate for dessert. Read on for all the recipes you'll need to have your own elf-worthy feast — no magic powers necessary!
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
This gravlax recipe comes from Finnish chef Paavo Turtiainen. Gravlax is a crowd-pleaser and requires no cooking. The dish is made by curing a piece of salmon in your very own fridge — this sounds fancy, but trust: It’s easy. Basically, you cover a fillet of salmon in sugar and salt, store it in your fridge, and forget about it for 2 to 3 days. Then...TA-DAAA! You've made gravlax! To serve, scrape off the salt and sugar, tap dry with paper towels, and slice very thin — easy, healthy, and very chic, indeed.
2-lb salmon fillet (with skin on)
4 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp coarsely ground pepper
1 bunch fresh dill
1. With a paper towel, wipe the salmon (do not rinse) and place in a dish that is large enough to fit the whole fillet.
2. Mix sugar, salt, and black pepper together and sprinkle mixture evenly on the fillet.
3. Thoroughly rinse the dill and tap dry in paper towel.
4. Chop dill coarsely and place evenly on top of the fillet.
5. Cover salmon and refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours.
6. Remove fillet from sugar and salt brine, scraping off dill and tapping salmon dry with paper towel.
7. Use a sharp fillet knife to cut gravlax into thin slices before serving.
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Pulling the biggest all-nighter of the year must be exhausting! So, we imagine Santa would want a healthy — but still hearty — meal before his annual send-off. This homemade bread recipe is courtesy of Chef Morten Sohlberg of Scandinavia House, and the delicious, wholesome bone-broth with escarole and chicken dumplings recipe comes straight from Chef Marco Canora. Try dipping the bread in the soup, or serving it with the gravlax.
Smörgås Chef Limpa Bread
3 cups water
2/3 cup dark maple syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground fennel
4 cups sifted rye flour
5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsps kosher salt
1/4 cup pork lard
2 1/2 oz yeast
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large pot, mix maple syrup, 2 1/2 cups water, brown sugar, fennel, and salt.
3. Boil briefly, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from stove and mix in the lard. Let rest until lukewarm to the touch.
4. Mix yeast into the remaining 1/2 cup water, and blend with maple syrup and lard mixture (both must be around the same lukewarm temperature when you mix together).
5. Whisk in rye flour until mixture is completely even. Let rest overnight, or about 8 hours under a kitchen cloth.
6. Then, combine 5 cups white flour into mixture. Put the remaining 1/2 cup white flour on a wooden cutting board and knead the dough well.
7. Put the dough in a buttered pan and let rise for 2 hours, or until approximately double in size.
8. Make 1 large loaf or divide dough in 2. Place in any suitable buttered baking dish (you can also use lard to coat the pan) that is big enough to let it rise again for 1 1/2 hours. Then, bake for 50 minutes at 350°F, buttering it on the top toward the end for good sheen and color.
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Marco Canora's Bone Broth With Escarole & Chicken Dumplings
Ingredients For Broth
1 whole chicken
2 lbs beef-stew meat, on the bone (or short ribs)
1 turkey drumstick (or two wings)
2 onions, diced
3 carrots
12 oz can of tomatoes
1 tsp peppercorns
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
* Note: We could not find any turkey at our local butcher, so we substituted in about 2 cups of store-bought turkey broth, so the flavors would not be lost.
1. Fill a large bowl with water. Set aside.
2. Put the whole chicken, beef, and turkey in a large stockpot and cover with about 4 inches of water (you’ll need about 7 quarts total).
3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
4. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium, and pull the pot to one side of the burner. This forces the broth to boil in a circuit from top to bottom, circulating the liquid over and around the meat.
5. As the broth boils, you’ll notice some scum at the top of the water. This is fat and other impurities from the meat; skim it off every 5 minutes or so. It’s important to be finicky about how you do this. Barely dip a ladle at the center of the pot and keep it still. The fat and foamy broth will stream into the ladle. Use the large bowl of water you set aside to get the fat off your ladle easily. Repeat for about half an hour until the broth looks clear.
6. Once clear, add in your aromatics (onions, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, peppercorns, and parsley).
7. Simmer the broth for about 2 hours (you might need to skim a few more times after adding in the aromatics).
8. Strain vegetables, but save the meat. (The meat can be enjoyed as bollito misto and served with Dijon mustard, salt, and/or salsa verde. The chicken can also be shredded and thrown into a salad.)
Ingredients For Dumplings
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Place the chicken, egg, rosemary, Parmigiano, and nutmeg in a food processor.
2. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until mixed, adding in the cream gradually.
3. Spoon the mixture into a resealable plastic bag and chill for up to 2 hours.
Ingredients For Soup & Chicken Dumplings
12 cups of broth (see above recipe)
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 medium head of escarole, washed and leaves chopped
2 cups of pearled farro
Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and add in onions, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
2. Cover and “sweat the vegetables,” meaning you cook them until they are soft but have not yet begun to color. Stir occasionally, about 10 minutes.
3. Add in the escarole, reduce heat to low. Cook until escarole wilts, about 5 minutes.
4. Rinse and drain your farro.
5. Add in the broth and farro to vegetable pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer until escarole is very soft, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Remove dumpling mixture from the fridge and snip a corner off the bottom of your plastic bag.
7. Squeeze small dumplings (about the size of the tip of your thumb) from the bag into the simmering broth.
8. Cover and let the dumplings poach until they are firm, about 10 minutes.
9. Serve topped with Parmigiano, pepper, and olive oil.
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
We're trying to stay as true as possible to foods that would be found in the North Pole this time of year. So, we imagine the kitchen elves would still be able to dig up some baby potatoes from their frozen garden patch, too. At our dinner party, these delicious baby spuds are covered in dried herbs and roasted in olive oil — a perfect side for a winter’s-night meal.
Roasted Baby Potatoes
2 1/2 to 3 lbs mini potatoes (preferably different colors)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried dill
Generous pinch of salt and pepper
1. Set your oven for 450°F.
2. Wash potatoes well and dry them.
3. If some of the baby potatoes look too big for a mouthful, you can cut them into halves or quarters (optional).
4. Put baby potatoes in a large bowl and add olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss together to mix well.
5. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender.
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Sugar plums and the Sugar Plum Fairy make many appearances in Christmas literature and folklore, but what the heck is a sugar plum?! We turned to the imagination and talent of Yasmina Jacob’s of Eat Make Celebrate to create a signature sugar-plum-fairy dessert. She created a Sugar Plum Fairy Puff — a puff pastry (a.k.a. a choux), filled with vanilla-plum cream, covered in bright-colored icing and edible glitter.
Choux are an impatient foodie’s dessert dream — they look really fancy and are easy to make with very few ingredients (see recipe below). Our accompanying hot chocolate is made with a pinch of cayenne pepper — a nice, spicy kick to help warm you from the inside.
Yasmina's Sugar Plum Fairy Puffs
Choux Pastry Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup of water with the butter, sugar, and salt.
3. As soon as the butter is melted and the water is simmering, take the pan off the heat and add in all the flour. Stir constantly — the mixture will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
4. Place the pan back on the heat and stir for another minute or so.
5. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes.
6. Add in the eggs one at a time, stirring between each egg. The final batter should be thick and glossy.
7. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, or place it into a food-storage bag and snip a corner off.
8. Pipe 1 inch and 2 inch rounds onto parchment paper.
9. Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Pastry Cream Ingredients
2 1/2 cups of milk
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg
Plum or berry jam
1. Heat the milk and vanilla bean in a large saucepan.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yolks, and eggs.
3. Once the milk is simmering, add a small amount of the milk mixture into the bowl with the flour, sugar, and eggs. Stir continuously, then pour the contents of the bowl back into the pan.
4. Keep stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
5. Mix about 1 cup of the vanilla pastry cream with 1/2 cup of jam.
Ingredients For Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp milk
Food coloring of your choice
Instructions To Assemble
1. Pipe the vanilla-plum pastry cream into the bottom choux pastry (the larger-sized choux) using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Apply a little pressure to the pastry bag and stop when you feel the pastry is full.
2. Pipe the vanilla-plum cream into the top choux pastry (the smaller-sized one) in the same way.
3. Dip the larger choux into the glaze, then dip the smaller choux into the glaze and stack them.
Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate (With A Kick!)
1 qt whole milk
5 tbsp powered, raw cacao
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a large pot and stir over high heat. Serve with marshmallows and candy canes, or whipped cream (optional).
Recipes created by: Marco Canora, Yasmina Jacobs, Morten Sohlberg, Paavo Turtianinen, and Elettra Wiedemann.
Prop Styling by Claudia Ficca & Food Styling by Maeve Sheridan.
Very special thanks to: MUD Australia, Erica Gannett, George Simonton, Andrew, Kate, Roman & Bea Tarlow; Renee Barletta and Frankie and Jasper Yang.
For more magical Imagine Dinner Parties head over to The Impatient Foodie.

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