(Family Features) A memorable holiday meal always comes down to the mouthwatering meals served by the host. This season, impress family and friends with three traditional courses many come to expect at such a gathering: a juicy bird, a hearty side and a sweet ending. Featuring flavor-packed herbs, spices and the freshest ingredients, these recipes allow you to serve up the very best of the season to those you love.
Crispy Roast Duck with Giblet Gravy
2 Maple Leaf Farms Whole Ducks (5 pounds each), thawed if frozen
Remove giblets and orange sauce packets from ducks and reserve for another use. Rinse ducks; pat dry with paper towels. Place breast sides up on rack in large shallow roasting pan. Roast according to package directions.
Place remaining duck giblets and necks in large saucepan. Add broth, water, onion, carrots, sage sprigs, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer gently uncovered 1 hour. Strain broth; set aside giblets and discard remaining solids. If broth measures less than 2 cups add water to equal 2 cups.
Remove roast ducks from oven and transfer to rack of broiler pan. Preheat broiler. Pour off and reserve drippings from roasting pan. Add vermouth to pan and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until mixture is reduced by about half, 2–3 minutes.
Spoon off 1/4 cup fat from reserved drippings; transfer to medium saucepan. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat 1 minute. Add 2 cups strained duck broth and wine mixture to saucepan. Add drippings to saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, until gravy thickens. Chop reserved giblets and add to gravy. Simmer 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Broil ducks 5–6 inches from heat source until skin is well browned and crispy, 6–8 minutes. Cut each duck into quarters and transfer to serving plates. Pass gravy separately. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.
Butter 11-by-7-inch (2 quart) baking dish and set aside. Slice potatoes to 1/8-inch-thick circles. Place potatoes in large saucepan or Dutch oven; add water to cover by 1 inch. Cook until tender and cool slightly.
Heat oven to 350°F. In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 1 minute. Stir in flour and salt. Cook until mixture bubbles. Gradually stir in milk and cook until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low. Stir in sour cream and cheese. Cook on low until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Layer half of potatoes in baking dish. Pour half the sauce over potatoes. Repeat with remaining potatoes and sauce. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until bubbly and top starts to brown.
To make crust, mix flour, nuts and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until pieces are size of small peas. Mix egg yolk, 3 tablespoons ice water and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly and tossing with fork until moistened and dough just holds together. Add remaining ice water, if needed. Gather dough and shape into 1-inch-thick disk.
Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour or overnight.
Heat oven to 425°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, rolling from center to edge, to form 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters; ease and unfold into 9-inch pie plate. Press pastry gently against bottom and sides of pie plate, easing out any air. Trim edge leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under; flute edge. Refrigerate, covered, at least 30 minutes.
Line piecrust with aluminum foil; fill with pie weights. Bake in oven until pastry is set, 8–10 minutes. Remove foil and weights; pierce pastry all over with fork. Bake until pastry is golden brown, 5–7 minutes longer. Cool completely on wire rack.
Heat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs, brown sugar, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in medium bowl until well blended. Arrange pecan halves evenly in bottom of piecrust. Carefully pour egg mixture over pecans.
Bake in center of 350°F oven until knife inserted midway between center and edge of pie comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Note: Pastry dough can be made in food processor. Also, ground almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts can be substituted for pecans.