A Taste of the Holidays

December 6, 2013
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The Two River Times™ is featuring recipes from Two River chefs to add to your holiday table. Each week, you can find a special dish to add to your holiday menu. This week three chefs offer Holiday Style entrée recipes. The Nov. 29 edition featured appetizers. The Dec. 13 issue will feature side dishes and Dec. 20 will feature desserts.



“It goes with the Feast of the Seven Fishes when the Italians celebrate on Christmas Eve. I’ve been eating this since I was a kid. We offer it all year long but we always include it in our holiday feast.”

– Chef/owner Ray Lena
Anjelica’s, 1070 Ocean Ave., Sea Bright, 732-842-2800


Stuffed Calamari

1 dozen calamari

1 ½ cups breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons oregano

5 tablespoons dried basil

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

olive oil

2 cans whole tomatoes

white wine

2 dozen cherrystone clams

1 tablespoon hot pepper seeds

1 clove garlic

1 bunch of parsley

1 bunch of basil


Have your fish monger select calamari tubes size 5 to 7 to a pound. Also have him include plenty of tentacles.


Wash tubes, set aside, and chop tentacles to add to the stuffing. Combine breadcrumbs, dried oregano and basil, grated Pecorino Romano cheese and olive oil to moisten. Add a small amount of crushed tomato to the breadcrumb mixture along with the chopped tentacles.

Stuff the calamari with mixture and fasten the open end with a toothpick.

In a deep pot, quickly sauté the calamari in olive oil until lightly browned.  Do not overcook.  Add white wine – a chablis will do – and cook off white wine until alcohol is evaporated.

When the wine is cooked off, add marinara sauce and clam sauce to the pot and cook at a low simmer for one hour.  Add fresh basil when finished.

The sauce should be a ratio of two to one, marinara to clam sauce, so the overall sauce is light not thick.

Best served over linguini.


For the clam sauce:  Shuck cherrystone clams, reserve liquid and roughly chop. (Clams can be bought already shucked.) In a pot, add olive oil, hot pepper seeds to taste and chopped garlic. Sauté until warm; do not brown garlic. Add white wine and liquid from clams.  Bring to a slight boil and add plenty of fresh Italian parsley.

For the marinara:  In a pot, add olive oil and garlic, sauté lightly and add your favorite tomatoes.  Cook quickly, salt to taste and at the end add plenty of fresh basil.

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“This recipe is a good one for the holidays, as it can be made a day or two in advance, and it’s easy to reheat to serve. It can also be easily halved or doubled depending on the amount of guests you are expecting. It can also be served with any sides, including grits, mashed potatoes, polenta or any rice dishes.

– Chef/owner Andrew Araneo,
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, 25 Church St., Keyport


Ancho Chile and Dried Fig Braised Pork Shoulder

4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder (cut in 8-ounce pieces)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

1 large onion diced

2 stalks celery diced

3 carrots diced

12 cloves of garlic

¼ cup tomato paste

16 dried figs (stems removed)

8 dried ancho chiles (stems and seeds removed)

2 bottles brown ale

4 cups chicken stock (or water)

fresh thyme and bay leaves


Season pork shoulder pieces heavily on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear pork in high-sided ovenproof Dutch oven over medium high heat or until all surfaces are caramelized.

Remove pork from Dutch oven, drain off fat leaving all browned bits and roughly 2 tablespoons of fat in pot. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic to pan. As moisture from vegetables is released, scrape bottom of pan to release all browned bits left behind from the pork. When vegetables begin to caramelize, add tomato paste. Stir continuously until it begins to stick. Add brown ale, dried figs and ancho chiles and bring to a simmer.

Return pork to the pot and add stock. Stock should just come up to the top of the pork, not completely cover it. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in a 325-degree oven. Let cook for about 2 to 2½ hours. Pork is done when a toothpick is inserted into the meat and pulls out with no resistance. Pork is best when left to cool in braising liquid overnight and finished the next day.

To finish, remove pork from braising liquid. Remove all visible (solidified) fat from top of pan. (If left to chill overnight, you may have to heat pot to release pork.) Place braising liquid, vegetables, figs and chiles in saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Remove fat that rises to the surface. Puree vegetables, using an emersion blender. (Can also be pureed in a conventional blender or food processor.)

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Optional: strain sauce through fine mesh strainer.

Return finished sauce to saucepan and reduce to desired consistency, or add more stock if pureed sauce is too thick.

To reheat pork, place in pan with finished sauce, cover and place in 325-degree oven, or simmer gently on the stovetop.






“The rib roast is a traditional favorite in my home. Nothing says Christmas like a beautiful cut of meat, potatoes and root vegetables.”

– Chef/owner Nicholas Harary
Nicholas, 160 Route 35, Middletown, 732-345-9977

Nicholas’ Rib Roast

Nicholas’ Rib Roast



Rib Roast

Serving: 4 to 6

1 bone-in, center-cut beef strip loin (approximately 2-3 pounds)

¼ cup grape-seed oil

½ head garlic, halved and skin intact

1 carrot, rough chopped

½ celery root, rough chopped

1 yellow onion, rough chopped

½ cup red wine

10-12 sprigs thyme, halved

coarse salt and black pepper


When purchasing a rib roast, have the butcher tie it for you.


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub the grape-seed oil into the meat with your hands, then liberally season it with salt and pepper.

Line the bottom of a roasting pan with the chopped vegetables, garlic and thyme. Sit the meat atop the vegetables and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the browned bits stuck to the bottom. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until desired temperature is reached.

For medium-rare, cook until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees (for medium, 125 degrees). Start to finish, this will take 45 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes. The internal temperature will rise as the meat rests.

Remove and discard the string and bone from the roast. Using a sharp carving knife, slice the meat to the desired thickness.


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