Techniques

Our Most Show-Stopping Holiday Roasts and Braises

This year, pull out all the stops with these decadent celebration dishes from around the globe.

BILL PHELPS

By SAVEUR Editors


Updated on December 2, 2022

The holidays call for big, bold roasts and braises. Whether you opt to stuff a bird, glaze a ham, or wrestle with an unwieldy leg of lamb, there’s no better time to splurge on a memorable main. Here are our favorite celebratory dishes from around the globe—from Georgian roast chicken to no-fuss beef stew to rib-sticking Hungarian goulash.

This festive lamb roast recipe from the late, great food writer Johnny Apple conjures up the era when people knew their butcher by name. Get the recipe >

This autumn stew recipe from Gage & Tollner chef Sohui Kim is a nod to classic kalbi-jjim (or galbi jjim) while also applying French technique, which often involves braising meat in wine to introduce depth of flavor. Says Kim, “I’ve come to firmly believe that red wine and soy sauce can and should coexist—just like the unexpected assortment of dishes and people that make their way to the table at Thanksgiving and somehow meld in the warmth of togetherness.” Get the recipe >

Vegetarians know better than anyone that Thanksgiving dinner is all about the accompaniments. This recipe from writer Julia Sherman is the marriage of two brilliantly simple but satisfying side dishes—crispy pan-fried polenta and cheesy roasted broccoli. Gild the lily by topping the dish with savory roasted mushrooms and you’ve got a plant-based main course that even the most hardened carnivores will love. Get the recipe >

Cookbook author Suzanne Zeidy cooks this juicy chicken—rubbed all over in bracing, floral sumac—in a rotisserie, but a grill or oven yields equally delicious results. Get the recipe >

Fresh uncured ham makes a wonderful holiday roast: tender and marbled but not fatty. Oranges, with their clean, citrusy spark, are an excellent foil for the pork’s richness. Get the recipe >

The recipe for this traditional Portuguese dish from the Vinho Verde region comes to us from winemaker Joana Santiago. The meaty dish was originally cooked in a wood-fired oven, then finished and served in a terra cotta “torto” roaster conveniently shaped in such a way that the leg rests directly over the rice. This allows heat to circulate all around it while still letting its flavorful juices drip into the saffron-scented rice below. Consider the old-school terra cotta roaster an optional flourish for this festive roast. Get the recipe >

This pork shoulder recipe is an adaptation of a celebratory Cuban dish made with a whole suckling pig. An overnight marinate in garlicky mojo and a generous fat cap ensures that the slow-roasted meat cooks up tender and juicy every time. Get the recipe >

Our chief content officer, Kate Berry, and her mother, Kim Nguyen, often make this comforting and aromatic stew to celebrate festive occasions. Over the years, Nguyen has adapted the traditional Vietnamese recipe to her own tastes and to the ingredients available to her in Orange County, California. Adaptations aside, the two women, both avid gardeners, never skimp on the classic accompaniments—a bountiful mix of fresh herbs, scallion, and lime. Get the recipe >

Bazhe is a velvety, coriander-scented walnut sauce that’s a staple of Georgian home cooking. In Georgia you’ll often find it served chilled as a sidekick to cold boiled chicken, but we love it even more alongside a freshly roasted bird. The heat draws out the spices’ bouquet and the walnuts’ fragrant oils. Dribble walnut oil over the sauce for extra decadence. Get the recipe >

Smoky red Kashmiri chile powder and ghee are the foundations of this festive lamb shank recipe from Ahdoos Hotel in Srinagar, Kashmir. Get the recipe >

Fred Morin and Dave McMillan of Joe Beef in Montreal cook a mix of birds over flames and embers, using hooks and chains to suspend and rotate them (different-size birds will cook at different speeds). “The spin, the way the fat drips down, all combines to make a wonderfully burnished bird,” says McMillan. Ambitious home cooks can hang birds using twine or wire over a backyard fire, or simply roast birds on a rack set in a roasting pan in the (indoor) oven. Get the recipe >

Dainty game birds cook to fall-off-the-bone perfection with sherry and aromatics in this lighter civet variation. Get the recipe >

Simmered with garlic and spices, pollo en salsa de almendras is one of Iberia’s great unsung comfort foods. The paprika oil drizzled on top at the very end adds not only gorgeous crimson color but a campfire-y smokiness that knits the flavors together. Get the recipe >

Good venison is buttery and beefy, hardly gamey at all. Because the loin is so lean, it is best cooked over a steady push of medium-high heat—not high heat, which creates a bull's-eye effect. To help the outside caramelize, chef and cookbook author Amy Thielen adds malted milk powder to the spice rub, which also adds a subtle, nutty richness to the final sauce. Get the recipe >

Normans use apples and cider in many savory preparations—with game, poultry, even fish. In this classic pork dish from Jean-François Guillouet-Huard, of Domaine Michel Huard, it's important to use a slightly tart variety so the end result isn't too sweet. Get the recipe >

Prime rib is a beloved steakhouse specialty. One of our favorite versions comes from the now-defunct Piccolo Pete’s, a Nebraska restaurant where the meat was rubbed with Italian spices and blasted with high heat to form a flavorful crust. Get the recipe >

Transport yourself to the Pyrenees by making this rustic Catalan game stew flavored with fruity red wine, chocolate, and fresh herbs. Get the recipe >

In the language of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria, efo riro means “stirred leaf,” referencing the bitter shoko leaf it’s often made with. (But don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it—spinach makes a suitable substitute.) Get the recipe >

Kharcho is a catch-all term for spicy Georgian beef stew. Some versions are brothy and flecked with rice, while others, like this one served at Salobie Bia in Tbilisi, are ultra-thick and all about the ground walnuts and spices. Get the recipe >

A silky garlic cream adds welcome zing to this dish that hails from Chile. We love spreading leftover sauce on sandwiches and wraps. Get the recipe >

Hungarian sweet paprika confers a singularly deep, rich color and flavor to this classic beef stew. We love serving it with rye bread, sour cream, and torn dill fronds. Get the recipe >

A sweet-and-sour pear-berry mostarda makes a perfect sidekick to this lean yet flavorful roast. Get the recipe >

Though spiral-cut ham comes fully cooked, a low, slow roast gets the juices flowing and caramelizes its sticky, spiced glaze. This recipe from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro scented with cinnamon and clove is a holiday family-meal favorite. Get the recipe >

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