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Eric Ripert's Elegant But Easy Holiday Recipes

Christmas dinner should be elegant and delicious, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be difficult.

If you're making one and haven't planned it yet, "The Early Show" offered help Thursday from world-renowned chef, author and TV personality Eric Ripert, of Le Bernardin restaurant in New York.

Eric pulled some excellent recipes from his latest cookbook, "Avec Eric," that will impress your guests but won't keep you in the kitchen all day. The book is a companion to his hit PBS series, "Avec Eric," which is just starting its second season.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!

Roasted Pork Loin with wild mushrooms, garlic and sage
Spiced Butternut Squash
Chestnut and Brussels sprouts
Roasted potatoes (the little ones in different colors)
Spiced Hot Chocolate and Cinnamon Beignets


Roasted Pork Loin with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic & Sage Pan Jus

Serves 4

The Pork Loin and Jus:
2 pound loin of pork, trimmed and tied
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
2 bay leaves, lightly crushed
3 sprigs sage
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

The Mushrooms:
12 ounces wild mushroom medley, such as morels, porcini, chanterelles and/or oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
2 sprigs thyme
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pork: Tie the pork loin with kitchen string; once lengthwise and every inch crosswise. Season the loin generously with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Carefully add the pork loin to the hot pan and sear on all sides until golden. Add the whole garlic cloves and lower the heat to medium low, cover and continue roasting for 25-30 minutes, checking occasionally and rotating as needed to prevent burning.
While the pork loin is roasting, prepare the mushrooms by trimming and cleaning all of the mushrooms. Heat a sauté pan with the oil and butter, add the minced shallots, garlic and thyme, cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Check the doneness of the pork loin by inserting a meat thermometer into the loin; it should register 150° F. (It will continue cooking while resting.) Transfer the loin to a cutting board and allow the meat to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Place the pan back on the burner over medium heat; add the bay leaves and sage and deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce the wine by half then add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer and lightly reduce again. Add the sautéed mushrooms to the sauce and remove from the heat; let the mushrooms and sauce sit for about 5 minutes to infuse. Slice the pork loin into ½ - inch thick slices and lay 3 slices on a plate. Place the mushrooms over and around the pork loin, spoon the sauce around and serve immediately.

Roasted Chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds baby Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1 1/2 cup roasted chestnuts, available canned or in jars in gourmet markets or see note below
3 tablespoons butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously season with salt. While the water is coming up to a boil, prepare an ice water bath in a large mixing bowl. Add the Brussels sprouts to the boiling water and blanch until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the cooked Brussels sprouts and immediately shock in the ice bath to preserve the color.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and place the cooked Brussels sprouts, chestnuts and 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan. Season the Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 6 to 8 minutes; glaze the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts at the last minute by adding the remaining butter along with 3 tablespoons of water. Serve immediately.

Chestnut Notes:
Fresh chestnuts are available every winter and are especially festive during the holiday season. And while the canned or jarred chestnuts are usually quite good, it is very easy and delicious to roast them fresh to use for this recipe. A pound fresh chestnuts will typically yield you about 1 cup after roasting and peeling.

Heat an oven to 450º F with a medium pan of water (about 3 cups)
Using a sharp pointed paring knife, make a cross hatch on the flat side of each chestnut and lay then out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the chestnuts until tender and fragrant, about 20 to 25 minutes stirring the pan halfway through the cooking process. Peel and enjoy!

For more recipes, go to Page 2.