Aaron Sanchez is the co-star of the Food Network series Heat Seekers and Chopped and the executive chef and co-owner of Centrico Restaurant and Mestizo.
“Growing up in a restaurant family, our holidays were always very much about home cooking — my mother would have food everywhere and mariachi music playing and dance around the kitchen with us. But it’s funny, even though we’re Mexican, during the holidays we really got into Puritan white food! On Christmas eve, tradition was to make a pork shoulder en charcroute, braised with big cabbage slices and carrots and caraway seeds and a little mustard sauces at the end. Christmas Day was about prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. We didn’t have those at any other time of the year, so we all looked forward to it.”
Serve it with: I think the ultimate side dish is bean and squash picadillo. I use fresh cranberry beans and pumpkin and add my special chipotle sauce to thicken the broth. You could substitute celery root or parsnips or turnips for the squash — the dish is so versatile and seasonal and goes great with all kinds of roasts.
Pro tip: When you’re roasting lamb or prime rib, let it come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before putting it into the oven. That softens the muscles and helps you bring it to that perfect medium-rare point because the whole cut is the same temperature and can cook evenly. People tend to be hyper about refrigerating meat, but leaving it out for 20 minutes is not going to kill anyone.