Six Gourmet Upgrades for Your Favorite Holiday Dishes
This holiday season, serve your classic recipes with a flavor upgrade. From roasted Brussels sprouts to cranberry sauce, the tried-and-true are overdue for a shot of sophistication. Here are six ways to spin your family’s favorites into gourmet dishes by swapping in an inspired ingredient. Of course, don’t forget the wine. Each recipe is thoughtfully paired to a delicious bottle from Noble Vines.
Whether you grew up with an American grandma or Italian nonna, you’ll always remember her meatballs. Moist and savory comfort food. But an outdated reliance on Italian bread crumbs, high in sodium and flavored with dried herbs, deserves a modern upgrade. Try Japanese panko with fresh parsley and rosemary. Imported brand Sushi Chef or Trader Joe’s both make a great product.
Gourmet Upgrade: Japanese Panko and Fresh Herbs
Tip: Avoid overworking the meat. Mix until just combined to keep texture loose rather than dense.
Pairing: Try Noble Vines 181 Merlot. Supple tannins and generous cherry flavors layered with vanilla and oak, complement the richness of the meatballs.
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz ground beef
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ cup panko Japanese bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg, adding Parmesan, parsley, rosemary, salt, and black pepper to taste. With hands, gently mix meat thoroughly with egg. Add onions, garlic, panko and gently mix. Form into 1 1/2-inch wide balls. In a frying pan, warm olive oil over medium high. Add meatballs in batches, searing evenly on all sides. Transfer meatballs to a glass baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes until meatballs feel firm or register 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
The old way of preparing this reliable side dish, short of simmering a mold from a can, was to macerate fresh cranberries with sugar. Simple and effective. But a fresh vanilla bean and fragrant cardamom pods take this classic to next level delicious.
Gourmet Upgrade: Vanilla Bean and Cardamom Pods from Kalustyan’s Spice Shop NYC
Tip: Always buy the freshest cranberries available by checking the expiration date on the bag.
Wine Pairing: To mirror the vibrant flavors of the fruit sauce, pair with Noble Vines 515 Rose. This salmon-hued wine brims with strawberry and raspberry notes washed through on a backbone of acidity.
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 vanilla bean, fresh
Bring first five ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cardamom. Split vanilla bean lengthwise in half; scrape seeds into cranberry mixture and add bean. Simmer mixture until cranberries burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium bowl. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
As a fall veggie, Brussels Sprouts frequently appear at festive gatherings. But if you’ve got picky eaters to feed, these little cabbages can be an acquired taste. Classic steaming or simple roasting won’t cut it when it comes to adding flavor. A drizzle of Mike’s hot and spicy honey and crumbles of Benton’s smoky bacon will turn upturned noses into requests for seconds.
Gourmet Upgrade: Mike’s Hot Honey and Benton’s Bacon
Tip: Line your sheet tray with foil for easy cleanup — caramelizing leaves a dark residue.
Wine Pairing: 242 Sauvignon Blanc from Noble Vines is the go-to wine for green veggies. Plus, the fresh, crisp bite of the wine will cut the heat and sweet from the honey, and slash through the fat from the bacon.
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Mike’s Hot Honey
- 4 slices Benton’s Bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts, olive oil, honey, bacon, and pepper together. Spread on a baking dish or sheet tray and roast 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir sprouts, and roast another 15-25 minutes until fork tender. Taste and add salt if needed, as bacon will have already lent seasoning.
As more people move towards vegetable-friendly eating, carrots have fallen back in vogue. Roasted in olive oil, they’re also a crowd-pleaser for the caramelized sweetness acquired during cooking. Kick your traditional recipe up a notch with the punchy sweet and sour flavor of fig-based balsamic vinegar.
Gourmet Upgrade: Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Tip: If you don’t like the flavor of fig, swap in basic balsamic vinegar or go super-luxe with an aged version from Modena.
Wine Pairing: The 667 Pinot Noir from Noble Vines is a silky, full-bodied wine, making it a good match to the sweet character of balsamic and carrots. Bing cherry, juicy plum and delicate hints of soft, toasty oak round out the profile.
- 1 pound carrots, peeled
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup Fig Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a large baking sheet, drizzle carrots with oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Meanwhile, prepare balsamic glaze. In a saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Simmer until reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Let cool slightly. Drizzle carrots with balsamic glaze and garnish with parsley.
Every celebration deserves a decadent finale. For the busy cook, chocolate panna cotta delivers an easy yet satisfying recipe for serving a crowd. But rather than reach for supermarket bags of chocolate chips, lend your dessert the deep rich flavor of Valrhona. Using grand cru dark baking chocolate at 70% will push the complex flavors of cacao to the forefront of your dish.
Gourmet Upgrade: Valrhona Grand Cru Dark Baking Chocolate Guanaja 70%
Tip: Prepare the night before for easy day-of service.
Wine Pairing: Noble Vines TheOne Black. Though sweet desserts don’t typically pair with bold red wines, this recipe employs a heavy percentage of dark chocolate. Thus, it reflects rather than contrasts, the black cherry and blackberry notes of the wine.
- 2 tablespoons water for gelatin
- 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin, unflavored
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ ounces Valrhona Grand Cru Dark Baking Chocolate Guanaja 70%
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoon whipping cream
Place water in a small bowl, and sprinkle gelatin evenly over water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and seeds, salt, adding softened gelatin.
In a medium bowl, melt Valrhona chocolate over a bain marie. Don’t allow steam or water to mix with the chocolate. When melted, remove bowl and pour hot milk mixture over chocolate. Emulsify with a hand blender, being careful not to splash. Add cream and gently mix until just incorporated. Let cool, then pour into serving glasses or ramekins, and chill overnight.
A roast ham makes a perfect festive table centerpiece. While honey has traditionally been the secret to a sweet, crunchy exterior, this recipe dials up the flavor with bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup from New York state artisan Tree Juice.
Gourmet Upgrade: Tree Juice Maple Syrup
Tip: Can be made several days in advance. Warm for an hour or two at 250 degrees just before serving.
Wine Pairing: The bourbon and maple syrup in the glaze complement the dark fruit flavors of Noble Vine’s 337 Cabernet Sauvignon, while the wine’s firm tannins and classic structure offset the ham’s lusciousness.
- ½ cup of bourbon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup Tree Juice Bourbon-barrel Aged Maple Syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 bone-in half ham (about 6 pounds), fully cooked
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
In a small saucepan, combine bourbon, butter, maple syrup and cinnamon over medium heat. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and water until smooth, then stir it into saucepan. Heat and stir until mixture boils, cooking until glaze thickens. Set aside.
Score ham’s fat cap in diamond pattern. Place cut side down in roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and brush with maple-bourbon glaze, coating all surfaces. Raise temperature to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, until ham browns and glaze turns crusty, about 30 minutes. Slice and serve.
- 1Grandma’s Meatballs
- 2Cranberry Sauce
- 3Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- 4Glazed Carrots
- 5Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta
- 6Roasted Ham with Maple Bourbon Glaze