Italian Herbed Crown Roast of Pork /

Trendy twists for the holidays

It’s the same every year. I want to make the nostalgic holiday foods that the season inspires, yet I also want to branch out, jazz things up, and enjoy dishes other than the same-old, same-old.

According to the National Pork Board, I’m not alone. Their recent “Holiday Table Trends” survey revealed that, while tradition is important, it’s continuing to take a back seat in holiday cooking. The survey went on to identify six food trends for the season – and not too coincidentally, they asked me to develop a recipe to celebrate each of them.

So, my holiday gift to you: six food trends, plus a porkalicious recipe for reveling in each. (If you’d prefer it all wrapped up in a pretty package, complete with bigger, more mouth-watering photos, wine pairing tips, and other goodies, check out “Pork’s Perfect Pairings: 2011 Guide to the Holiday Table.”)

Bacon and Sweet Potato BiscuitsDIY Home cooks are enjoying more and more do-it-yourself edibles, and the survey showed that most were interested in baked goods. You can partake via Bacon and Sweet Potato Biscuits with Smoky Honey Butter (right). Perfect for Christmas morning, New Year’s Day, or a holiday brunch. The smoky honey butter is To. Die. For.

Small Plates Mini- and handheld  foods continue to be popular – did I mention that my “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates” book just went into a second printing?!? – particularly foods on a stick. Get in on the action with Buffalo Pork Skewers with Blue Cheese Sauce. Great as a holiday appetizer or for an all-small-plates New Years Eve.

Sausage and Deviled Egg Salad SlidersRetro foods Nostalgic foods will always be part of the holidays but, perhaps thanks to “Mad Men,” everything old is truly new again. Case in point: this riff on deviled eggs, Sausage and Deviled Egg Salad Sliders (right). A little chile sauce, plus cilantro sprigs, send them over the top.

Global flavors Home cooks are increasingly interested in sprinkling other cuisines’ flavors into their holidays. So say buon Natale with an Italian-Herbed Crown Roast of Pork with Sausage and Parmesan Dressing (pictured, above left). Could any Christmas dinner be more impressive than a crown roast? I think not. And this one’s super easy, too.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled HamStepped-up sides Most agreed that side dishes needed a sprucing up, but none more so than green veggies like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. And how better to do that than by adding ham or bacon? As in Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham (right). Serve them alongside the crown roast.

Brunch Brunch is hot and, perhaps not surprisingly, the way most like to enjoy it is with eggs. For that, try this Roast Pork Strata with Green Chiles and Goat Cheese. An amazing combination of flavors that’d be great on Christmas morning or New Year’s Day.

Tasty holidays to you and yours.

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