Iron Chef Jose Garces is the owner of seven Philly restaurants (Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Village Whisky, Graces Trading Company, Volver in the Kimmel Center and JG Domestic), but his lineage goes back to Ecuador, as do some of his family’s traditions when it comes to Christmas meals. Ecuadorians enjoy pork, so it is common to have a roasted leg of pork for the holidays. “It just isn’t Christmas without slow roasted pork.” said Garces. The chef and his family traditionally would cook a massive Christmas Eve dinner, then make sandwiches from leftovers on Christmas day. Here are some recipes you may want to try for your Christmas Eve dinner.

Chef Jose Garces
217 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA. 19106
(215) 625-2450

The Main Dish: Slow Roasted Pork

  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground mace
  • 4 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish paprika

Combine 4 tablespoons of the salt with the sugar and mustard to make a rub for the pork. Rub mixture over pork, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. When ready to roast, pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and set up oven to cook in the middle. Rinse off pork before roasting. Combine remaining ingredients and recover pork in a roasting pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil and allow cooking until internal temp. reaches 175 degrees (should be about 1 and half hours).

For A Side Dish: Mom Garces’ Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs. of Yukon gold potatoes (about 5 large)
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz. of butter
  • 1/4 chopped scallions both green/white
  • Salt

Peel potatoes, chop into two inch chunks and boil in salted water for about 15-20 minutes (Potatoes are done when easily poked with a knife or fork). Drain and push potatoes through a ricer. You can use a masher if you do not have a ricer. Heat the remaining ingredients (except for the scallions) in a sauce pan until it simmers (use a low flame so it takes about 5 minutes). Combine the mixture to the potatoes and fold. Top with the scallions.

For An Appetizer: Serrano Ham Wrapped Figs

  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 16 dried figs
  • 2 oz. paper thin sliced Serrano ham (or prosciutto)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Combine the water, wine and all spices in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil; Next, pour over prepared figs in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for an hour. Drain figs, remove stems, then wrap with ham, drizzle with sherry vinegar.

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Crema For Figs Or Another Dip

  • 2 oz. or about half cup of bleu cheese crumbles
  • 4 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of mayo
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Can be stored for up to one day in an airtight container refrigerated.   Place small dollops of crema on your serving platter, place finished wrapped figs on top. This can also be used as a stand alone dip or the base of cream dip.

For Dessert: Chocolate Mousse

  • 45 oz. of Rancherito cream
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon of rum
  • 5 tablespoons of cold water
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix 41 oz. of Rancherito cream at medium speed until stiff, about 5 minutes. Take half a cup (4 oz.) of this and put in a plastic bag for decorating; refrigerate. Next, combine the gelatin, rum and water in a double boiler until the gelatin is dissolved. In a saucepan, melt 4 oz.of the cream and sugar and bring to a boil; add chocolate chips to melt. This takes about 1 minute.  Next, add the gelatin mixture until well blended. Combine the refrigerated cream, folding in gently. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Top with cream from bag for decoration.

Related: Top Spots For Holiday Treats In Philadelphia

Christina Dagnelli is a freelance writer in Philadelphia and the author of Little Squares with Colors: A Different way to look at autism. Her work on examiner can be found here