Michael White is the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of Marea, Ai Fiori, and Osteria Morini in New York City.
“I grew up in Wisconsin in a Norwegian family, but my wife is from Italy, and like the Italians, we do a feast of fish on Christmas Eve. The lineup changes every year, but we always have clams and mussels and bluefish and my wife likes to make baccala and octopus salads. On Christmas Day we make a roast. One of my favorite recipes is roast pork with rosemary and potatoes and a stewed fruit sauce — it’s so adaptable, in the late summer you can make it with peaches or in the fall you can substitute apples or pears.”
Serve with: In fall and winter I love to eat a creamed spinach with lots of nutmeg in it, or a gratin of Swiss chard, or simple sauteed mushrooms. When it comes to sides, less really is more. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with affogato. The way the hot espresso softens the gelato is irresistible. It’s really the perfect simple ending to an epic meal.
Pro tip: Give yourself a break and plan a menu that will allow you to actually spend time with your guests. That means simple dishes that you can start ahead of time and cook low and slow — not things that require you to be fussing with them up until the last minute.