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Five recipes for beautiful, tantalizing holiday roasts

5 Recipes
A platter of carved roast chicken on a table next to a bowl of rice
(Silvia Razgova / For the Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian; food styling by Ben Mims)

Make one of these magnificent roasts the centerpiece of your holiday dinner

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In my mother’s house, roasts were seasoned with table salt and ground black pepper and served, literally, au jus — with nothing but the pan juices, straight from the pan. A few slivers of garlic may have been tucked into a leg of lamb, but that was about as intricate as it got. Glazes, sauces and even gravy were deemed unnecessary — scorned as a cover-up for improperly cooked meat. While I appreciate my mom’s commitment to simplicity and proper technique, I must admit that I prefer more, especially at holiday time.

With nominal added effort, Pistachio-Crusted Beef Tenderloin has a little more pizazz — more texture and a nutty flavor to contrast with the smoothness of the meat. A Chipotle- and Orange-Glazed Ham requires a bit more attention but is still relatively effortless. Mix up the glaze, baste the ham with it every 10 minutes or so to develop a thick, shiny coat, and you’ll have an elegant, sumptuous entrée to present at the table.

The ultimate in elaborate preparations, I was well into adulthood when I first learned of Turducken — a turkey stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken (all boned, of course) that is roasted and then sliced so that each diner gets a little of each bird. Here too you have options regarding the level of complexity. Before cramming one bird into the other, fill each with a different stuffing, or with the same stuffing, or don’t use stuffing at all. Whichever way you do it, you will have a stunning centerpiece that will be talked about long after it is eaten and gone.

As sophisticated as it sounds, Spatchcocked Roast Duck with Vietnamese-Ish Herb Sauce is surprisingly easy to make. Spatchcocking is simply cutting the backbone out of the bird (with kitchen shears — no fancy knifework required), spreading it out and pressing it flat. The gives the breast and leg meat equal exposure to the heat and allows them to cook at the same rate, which requires less time in the oven and results in more even doneness. The herb sauce comes together in a flash while the duck is roasting. You will need to plan a bit in advance, as it needs 48 hours to dry out in the fridge, but that becomes a matter of making space more than anything else.

This spectacular Crown Roast of Pork Stuffed with Wild Rice And Dried Fruit is way less work than meets the eye. Prepare the rice stuffing and any other sides while the pork is roasting (approximately 2.5 hours) so the rest of your day is free for other preparations — or to relax and enjoy some family or alone time.

Whether you want to set it and forget it or gussy it up, any of these magnificent roasts will please the eye and the palate at your holiday table.

Crown roast of pork stuffed with wild rice and dried fruit

This pork is best cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees (rising to 155 after the rest).
Time3 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 12

Pistachio-crusted beef tenderloin

Beef doesn't need to be over-cured, over-brined or over-spiced. The simple toasted pistachios add a nice nutty flavor without doing anything else to the meat.
Time1 hour 45 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10

Chipotle- and orange-glazed ham

Sweet and spicy, this glazed ham is a perfect centerpiece for a holiday feast.
Time2 hours 10 minutes
YieldsServes 10 to 12

Turducken

This is a glorious monster of a roast, a guaranteed showstopper at any holiday dinner. Slice into it and there's layer after layer of meats and stuffings.
TimeTotal time: 2 to 4 hours, plus 6 to 7 hours roasting time (timing will vary depending on how quickly the birds are boned)
YieldsServes 25 to 30

Spatchcocked Roast Duck With Vietnamese-ish Herb Sauce

A Vietnamese-style herb sauce is ideal to cut the richness of a whole roast duck.
Time2 hours, largely unattended, plus 48 hours chilling
YieldsServes 4 to 6