Recipes: Here’s how to make Christmas dinner frugal but still festive


We are trimming down 2022 holiday expenses at our house. There will be fewer gifts and less extravagant entertaining. That means that Christmas dinner won’t showcase a behemoth beef tenderloin this year. And prime rib is out. But the culinary joy won’t diminish. We won’t suffer even a little bit.

The revised menu will be different, yet very delicious. Instead of beef, the celebratory meal will showcase pork tenderloins wrapped in prosciutto served with an alluring apple chutney. The flavor marriage of the juicy meat and that perky fruit relish is irresistible.

Not to be confused with pork loin, tenderloins are elongated, somewhat slender beauties, the flesh a reddish-pink hue. They are generally sold in side-by-side packs of two, each one weighing in at about one pound. Pork tenderloins’ mild-mannered taste make them extremely versatile. They cook quickly using high heat, roasted in the oven.

To round out the menu, a simple no-fail rice is a just-right accompaniment. It can be made in advance if you like, and then cooled, refrigerated and reheated in the microwave before serving. A simple vegetable such as green beans, roasted carrots, or roasted butternut squash is a welcome addition, as well as a crisp green salad.

As for dessert, a tempting pear crostarda is a scrumptious finish. Martha Stewart dubbed this dessert with the Italian term, calling it a “crostarda.” Most often these rustic open-faced tarts take on a French name and are called galettes. Both terms refer to the dessert made using rolled-out dough that is placed on a baking sheet and a fruit mixture is placed in the middle. The dough is folded rag-tag over the fruit, partially covering it.  Once baked, the dough is golden brown and crisp, the pears are perfectly tender.

If you like, serve the tasty finale with sweetened whipped cream, crème fraiche, or ice cream.

Ho, ho, ho!

Pork Tenderloins with Prosciutto and Apple Chutney

Of course, these prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloins are delectable, but to my way to thinking, it’s Ina Garten’s Apple Chutney that puts them over the top. Sure, you can use a store-bought chutney, but this homemade relish shows off apples, fresh ginger, spices, and raisins in an incredible way. You can prepare the chutney as much as 2 weeks ahead and store it airtight in the fridge.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


2 pork tenderloins (2½ to 3 pounds total)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Good olive oil

10 to 12 slices prosciutto (about two 3-ounce packages)

Kitchen string

Apple Chutney (recipe below)

Cook’s notes: If desired, assemble pork completely and wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate up to 24 hours. Roast before serving. Garten notes that pork can be cooked medium rare because there is no longer a concern about trichinosis. She explains that overcooked pork will be dry and flavorless.


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place the tenderloins on rimmed baking sheet and pat them dry with paper towels. Combine the rosemary, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the tenderloins all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle all sides with the herb mixture. If there is a thinner “tail,” fold it underneath so the tenderloin is an even thickness throughout. Wrap the tenderloins completely with a single layer of prosciutto. (I place the prosciutto sideways with the ends wrapping under the tenderloins.) Tie in several places with kitchen string to hold the prosciutto and the “tail” in place.

3. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle of the end of the tenderloin reads 145 degrees for medium rare and 150 degrees for medium. Cover the tenderloins tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve warm with the Apple Chutney.

Source: “Ina Garten Make It Ahead” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $35)

Apple Chutney

Yield: About 5 cups


1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or tangerine juice

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3/4 cup raisins


1. Combine the onion, ginger, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt in a large saucepan. Add apples, adding them as you chop to keep them from turning brown. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated (there will probably be about 1/2- to 1 inch of liquid left at the bottom — but it will thicken up as it cools a little).

3. Stir in the raisins and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Source: “Ina Garten Make It Ahead” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $35)

This “no-fail” rice dish can be made a day in advance and reheated for Christmas dinner. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

No-Fail Rice

This delicious, foolproof rice can be made a day ahead. Cool it and refrigerate well sealed. To reheat in microwave, place rice in microwave-safe container on high power, uncovered, until heated through. It will take about 4 or 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork every 2 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings (recipe may be doubled if desired, using a larger pan)


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter; see cook’s notes

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 cup raw long grain rice

2 cups chicken broth; see cook’s notes

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Optional garnish: Judicious sprinkle of seasoned salt such as Lawry’s and snipped fresh chives

Cook’s notes: To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. To make it vegan, also substitute olive oil for butter.


1, Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan. Add onion and garlic; cook on medium heat until onion is softened and transparent, stirring occasionally. Add rice and stir over medium-high heat until golden brown, stirring frequently.

2, Add broth off heat. Return to heat and increase to high heat. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 16 to 20 minutes. Remove lid and have a look at the bottom of the pan; all the broth should be absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Transfer to platter. If desired, sprinkle a little seasoned salt on top and scatter some snipped fresh chives.

Martha Stewart's recipe for pear crostarda is the perfect dessert to cap off a holiday meal. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)
Martha Stewart’s recipe for pear crostarda is the perfect dessert to cap off a holiday meal. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

Pear Crostada (Galette)

Yield: One 14-inch galette, about 10 servings


Tart dough (recipe below)

3 pounds ripe but not squishy pears (about 10), peeled, cored, slices 1/2-inch thick

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

All-purpose flour for dusting

Egg wash: 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Optional: 1/4 cup sanding sugar; see cook’s notes

Optional for serving: Whipped cream or crème fraiche or ice cream

Cook’s notes: Sanding sugar is a large crystal sugar that adds sparkle to baked goods. It is also called “pearl sugar” or “decorating sugar.” It is sold at stores that stock baking supplies, such as  Michael’s (several locations).


1. Prepare dough (recipe follows) and chill as directed. Toss fruit with granulated sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Flour a large (at least 18 inches long) piece of parchment paper. Place dough on parchment. Using your knuckles, press edges of dough so it doesn’t crack during rolling. Lightly flour top of dough to prevent sticking; roll into an 18-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer dough (still on parchment) to a large baking sheet.

3. Mound fruit in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Fold dough over fruit, pleating it as you go (there will be an area in the center where dough doesn’t cover fruit). Brush the exposed dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using.

4. Bake until crust is golden brown, and filling is bubbling in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let tart cool completely. If desired, accompany with whipped cream, ice cream, or crème fraiche.

Source: “Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations” by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter, $75)

Martha’s Tart Dough

Yield: Enough for a 14-inch galette


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if needed


1. Pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining. Evenly drizzle 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water (without the ice) over mixture. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse to combine.

2. Turn dough out onto work surface and knead once or twice, then shape into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or up to overnight. (Dough can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.)

Source: “Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations” by Martha Stewart (Clarkson Potter, $75)

Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at

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