Michael Lomonaco's ultimate Christmas Eve dish

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Michael Lomonaco, owner and head chef of of the Porter House steakhouse in New York's famed Time Warner Center, stopped by "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" and brought a special Christmas Eve dish - a Lomonaco family favorite and his "ultimate dish" - Crown Roast of Pork.

For Lomanaco, the holiday is all about family. He comes from a large, Italian, family and meals are long, loud and full of delicious food. He says any dish is an ultimate dish as long as it is shared with family and friends, especially during holiday season. Traditions mean a lot to him and his family, and a big festive dinner, special times spent with friends and family are the traditions he remembers best.

Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner are usually filled with many dishes, each symbolizing something for the holiday and New Year.

The crown roast (or ham or some other large dish) is always the centerpiece. Bitter greens represent the bitterness of life and the sweetness of the acorn squash & maple sugar glaze the sweetness of life.

Croquembouche, another dish in the meal, is the perfect marriage of his past and present. He is a classically-trained French chef, and his mother always made Italian cream puffs during the holidays - the croque marries the two in perfect harmony and is the perfect way to end the meal. Procesco is very Italian and, according to Lomanaco, easy to drink during a long meal.

The Brooklyn-born Lomonaco started his career at Le Cirque, working with famed chefs Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud. In 1989, he took the helm at The 21 Club and turned the stuffy and (some say) out-of-date restaurant into a place to see and be seen.

Lomonaco's next stop was on top of the world - as executive chef at Windows on the World, in the World Trade Center.

Fate intervened on the morning of September. 11, 2001: Lomonaco stopped earlier than planned to get his glasses fixed at an optical shop on the concourse level of the World Trade Center a little after 8:00 in the morning. If he'd have arrived in the restaurant at this usual time, he would have been there, at the very top of the tower, when the plane piloted by terrorists flew into it.

He then co-founded the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, which gathered support for restaurant workers' families in the wake of the September 11 tragedy.

His bold approach to American Cuisine has made him one of the top chefs in his field. He's hosted the Travel Channel's "Epicurious," as well as his own "Michael's Place" on the Food Network (from 1995 - 2000). Leaving hosting behind, he returned to the kitchen when he opened Porter House in October 2006. Porter House is Chef Lomonaco's re-imagining of a classic steakhouse, and it's recevied rave reviews since opening its doors.

His cook books include: "The 21 Cookbook," which is considered a classic by many, and his recent "Nightly Specials."

Lomonaco is also a teaching chef. He lectures and teaches at the City University of New York, the Culinary Institute of America, and Institute of Culinary Education, among others. He's also appeared as a guest chef at the International Hotel Show and the Chicago Restaurant show.

On "THE Dish," a different famous chef each week reveals what he or she would have if they could have just one meal. That's because for us, "THE Dish" is about the moment, the place, and the person you would share it with. It's about the emotion behind the food, it's about the conversation and the meal itself. We want to get to know these chefs on a deeper level and hope our viewers do, as well.

Enjoy all our "Early Show" recipes!

For Lomonaco's recipes, go to Page 2.

RECIPES:

CROWN ROAST OF PORK with APPLE-CHESTNUT DRESSING

Serves 8-10

  • 1-7-8 pound center-cut loin of pork tied into a crown roast, bones facing outward
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, about 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme and rosemary, leaves picked
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Have your butcher tie the pork roast into the traditional crown roast shape, chine bone removed, split between the ribs to facilitate the formation of the crown shape.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1. In a bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic, oil, thyme and rosemary leaves

2. Sprinkle the seasoning on the pork loin and place the roast on a rack and into a heavy bottomed roasting pan.

3. Add the roughly cut vegetables, wine and broth to the roasting pan and place the roasting pan into the oven, roast for 20 minutes before turning the heat down to 350 degrees F.

4. Continue to roast the pork loin until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 60 minutes more.

5. Remove the roast from the pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving into individual servings, about 1/2 inch thick. Serve with the pan drippings.

APPLE-CHESTNUT DRESSING

  • 3 cups cubed French bread, fresh or day-old
  • 2 onion, peeled, and diced
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3 apples unpeeled, cored, cut in medium dice
  • 1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Saute the onions in butter until translucent, add the apples and chestnuts, add the sage, cooking until the apples have just begun to soften (about 7 to 8 minutes). Remove from the heat and cool before combining the onion and apple mixture with the bread cubes.

3. Add the chicken broth, egg, and milk to the bread mixture, let sit for a few minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

4. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart ovenproof dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot in the baking dish or may be scooped into the center of the pork roast for a festive presentation.

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Garlic and Chili Flakes

  • 1 2-1/2 pound bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional : 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes to garnish

1. Clean broccoli rabe by cutting off thick and woody bottom stems, about one inch

2. wash broccoli rabe in colander under cold running water, allow to drain

3. heat olive oil in a large pot over low heat for 1 minute before adding drained broccoli rabe, seal tightly with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes to steam till tender

4. remove lid, add garlic and chili flakes, turn heat up to medium high and continue to cook till the garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally

5. season with salt and pepper, remove from pot and serve with a drizzle of additional olive oil if desired

For more of Lomonaco's recipes, go to Page 3.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

  • 4 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • » cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • » cup raisins
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

1. Pre-heat oven to 375»F. Wash outer skin acorn squash, cut through from top to bottom and split into 2 pieces, place cut side down on baking sheet with a little water on the bottom , place into hot oven and bake till tender when pierced, about 35 minutes. Remove and cool slightly

2. in a small saucepan heat butter, syrup, pine nuts, raisins and cinnamon over low heat to combine

3. Turn cooled squash over onto the skin side, drizzle with maple syrup glaze and return to the oven for 10 minutes to caramelize

4. Remove and serve hot

CROQUEMBOUCHE

Cream puff ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 8 eggs + 2

Pastry Cream:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Caramel:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cream Puffs

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the saucepan off the heat. Working on a countertop, stir with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir vigorously until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Scrape the flour mixture into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mixing at medium speed, and working 1 egg at a time, add the eggs , stopping after each addition to allow the egg to be absorbed, until all the eggs have been added. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.

3. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe the cream puff dough in one inch mounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Whisk 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the surface of the dough mounds with the egg wash, just until coated. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375-degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 20-22 minutes more.

4. Remove and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Poke a small hole in the side of each to allow steam to escape.

Pastry Cream Filling:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside.

2. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth.

3. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, while keeping the empty saucepan handy.

4. Pour the egg mixture through a wire mesh strainer back into the same saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and simmering slowly, 2-3 minutes

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly.

6. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic into contact with the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.

7. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to use.

8. Poke a hole with a plain pastry tip in the bottom of each cream puff and using a pastry bag fill the puffs full of the pastry cream.

Caramel:

1. Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan with the water over medium heat,

2. allow to boil to make a light golden caramel color remove and cool slightly

3. Working one cream puff at a time, dip the sides of the puffs in the caramel and begin to form a circle on a platter, sticking them together with the caramel

4. With tops facing out work towards the center filling the circle to make it a stable base for the rows to come on top.

5. Make a second row on top of the first but a bit smaller forming the circle inward to create a tower of cream puffs.

6. Check it occasionally to ensure the tower is straight.

7. When it's finished, drizzle it with caramel all over.

PROSECCO POMEGRANATE CRUSH
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 drops orange bitters
  • 2 ounce Pomegranate Juice
  • 5 ounces Chilled Prosecco
  • 1 orange peel twist

Put 2-3 drops of bitters on sugar cube, place at bottom of champagne glass

Add chilled Pomegranate Juice

Pour Chilled Prosecco over sugar cube and juice in glass

Add orange peel twist

Enjoy!!!

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