James and Isabel Eckrosh of The Dog & Pig Show share holiday traditions with a dash of nostalgia.
The holidays are as much about tradition as they are spreading good cheer. We like to think that at the end of the day, a good meal is more about who you have sitting around the table rather than what you’re eating, but everyone always has that one dish they look forward to every holiday season. For our friends James and Isabel Eckrosh from The Dog and Pig Show, the simplicity of good food combined with the merriment of gathering together is at the heart of what they do best. James and Isabel prepared their favorite holiday dish — a family tradition of James’ that makes for a great “green bean casserole” substitute — and a cocktail that will truly invoke a sense of youthful nostalgia.
JAMES’ GRANDMA’S YAHNEH
My great grandmother, who came to the US from Syria in the early 1900s, passed this dish on from generation to generation. We had this dish at nearly every holiday family meal that my grandmother prepared, probably because it was my grandfather’s favorite. I think it’s a great replacement dish for the good ol’ “Green Bean Casserole.” The cinnamon and allspice flavors create a warm holiday connection that everyone can enjoy.
2 Lbs. Lamb – stew meat or loin chops
3 lbs. Fresh Green Beans – ends removed, snapped in half
16 Medium fresh tomatoes
2 28 oz. cans tomatoes
2 Medium red onions, finely diced
2 tbsp. Minced garlic
4 oz. olive oil, divided into 2 oz portions
Salt, Allspice, Cinnamon, Moroccan or Turkish Seasoning
1. Blanch and peel the tomatoes.
2. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 oz. of olive oil at medium heat, then add the diced onion, garlic and 2 tsp. salt. Sautée until lightly browned, stirring regularly.
3. Reduce heat, then add the peeled tomatoes to the pot, crushing with your hand before adding. Add in the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
4. Season lamb well with Moroccan or Turkish seasoning, or just salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then add in the lamb. Brown very well on all sides, then add the oil/scrapings into the stock pot with the simmering tomatoes.
5. Add the green beans, 2 tsp. allspice and 2 tsp. cinnamon
6. Bring everything back to a simmer, cover lightly and stir occasionally.
7. Stew down for 1-2 hours until the sauce thickens and the green beans are cooked well.
8. Serve as a side vegetable dish, or over white rice as a main course.
ISABEL’S ADULT SNOW CREAM
1 cup butter pecan infused bourbon — recipe below
2 cups half & half
4 tbsp. holiday spiced syrup (more to taste if a sweeter drink is preferred) — recipe below
MIX ALL INGREDIENTS IN GLASS JAR. PUT IN FREEZER 4 HOURS OR OVERNIGHT UNTIL NEARLY FROZEN. SHAKE TO BREAK UP MIXTURE, POUR IN ROCKS GLASS AND TOP WITH FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG. TRY EVER SO HARD NOT TO DRINK MORE THAN 3 IN ONE SITTING.
HOLIDAY SPICED SYRUP
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup nutmeg seeds
4 cardamom pods
HEAT SUGAR, MOLASSES AND WATER UNTIL SUGAR IS DISSOLVED. ADD CLOVES, NUTMEG, CARDAMOM AND COOK ON LOW HEAT FOR APPROXIMATELY 30 MIN. USE CHEESE CLOTH TO STRAIN SPICES, OR LEAVE AS IS.
BUTTER PECAN INFUSED BOURBON
1 1/2 cups Pecans
2 tsp. Coarse salt
30 oz. Bourbon
6 tbsp. Butter
ADD ALL INGREDIENTS TO CAST IRON SKILLET. HEAT OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT, CONSTANTLY STIRRING FOR 15- 20 MINUTES. TAKE OFF HEAT AND ALLOW TO COOL BEFORE ADDING TO BOURBON.