Bobby and I have the epitome of a Modern Family. Mine alone consists of cousins that hail from five different counties, including China, Uganda, Jamaica, Scotland, Italy, and our own U.S.A. My own siblings and half siblings range in age from early 30s to 6 years old. Our parents are all divorced and remarried, which means we’ve inherited an amazing extended brood of characters. Simply put, life is always interesting. The best part? Holiday feasts are multiplied, and sometimes celebrated early.

And so, the feasts of ravishing birds and sides, and mounds of desserts and libations begins!

The first: we spent last weekend in D.C. with Bobby’s dad and stepmom Alice. By a twist of fate, my twin sister Dimity was visiting her friend Neema, and our cousin Lucas was visiting from Jamaica and staying with his Uncle twenty minutes away. We converged on Bobby’s home and were merry withΒ gluvein, TWO crispy roasted chickens, apple-caraway cabbage and apple pie with ice cream.

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First, to warm up the chefs, and keep the guests merry…

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From left (not the whole gang): Neema, Bobby, Dan (Bobby's dad), Paul (Bobby's step-brother), Lucas (my cuz!).
From left (not the whole gang): Neema, Bobby, Dan (Bobby’s dad), Paul (Bobby’s step-brother), Lucas (my cuz!).

Coping with leftovers? Shred the chicken and sautΓ© in a pan unit crispy. Re-heat the gravy and add a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of honey, and 1/2 cup grated parmesan. Serve together!

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Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken, with Braised Apple-Caraway Cabbage

Yield: 10-12 mugs

An eastern European staple in the Christmas markets, this steaming mug of mulled spices, wine and brandy will put you in the most festive of moods. The bonus: the house acquires the most delicious of scents. Dimity and I first discovered this in Prague during our first Christmas away from home. Luckily, Bobby's step-sister Laura just spent a semester in Germany; our hosts were also familiar with drink!

Double this recipe for two birds. We adapted this from a recipe we found on youtube. I would suggest watchingthis recipe first, and then scanning our ingredients for the additions. I will bold anything new!

Ingredients

    Gluhwein
  • 2 bottles red wine
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 orange, thinly slivered into wheels
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau liquor
  • Roasted Chicken
  • 1 free-range chicken, cleaned and ready to stuff
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 lemons
  • 2-3 sprigs each thyme & rosemary
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Instructions

    Gluhwein:
  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the brandy and cointreau, to a pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer, and continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the brandy and cointreau before serving.
  2. Roasted Chicken:
  3. Preheat the oven to 400.
  4. Coarsely chop the onions, potatoes, and carrots and line the bottom of a baking dish.
  5. Follow the directions in the video for preparing the bird: peel and smash the garlic and add to a big bowl. Squeeze the lemons and add to the juice and peels to the bowl along with the spices.
  6. Bath the bird liberally in the bowl. Stuff the bird with the garlic and lemon peels - tuck in as many spices as you can. Place the bird on top of the vegetables.
  7. Tie the legs together with butchers string. Tuck the nubbins under (see video). Drizzle with olive oil and cover with slivers of butter.
  8. Roast in the oven for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken (about 165 degrees), or slice to check for the right color (not pink!).
  9. Remove the vegetables while the gravy is still hot and transfer to a separate bowl. Pour the gravy into a small pan and add the white wine. Simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly reduced. Transfer to a bowl for serving over chicken.
  10. Carve the chicken, and voila! Serve with Apple-Caraway Cabbage. Incredible!
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