Don Mahaney (owner at Scratch Food & Beverage in Troy Hill)
My favorite item to cook with my family over the holidays, or anytime really, is a very simple spaghetti squash dish. I try to keep things simple and clean when it comes to food.
One spaghetti squash, cut in half
Plugra (A higher fat content butter available in many stores. Its name is derived from the French plus gras “more fat.”)
Remove the seeds from the halved spaghetti squash. Place the two halves on a sheet tray with a half-inch of water. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Scoop out the innards of the squash, and see why it’s named after a pasta. Preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Brown a few tablespoons of plugra. Sautée the spaghetti squash. Salt and pepper to taste until you’re proud to serve.
Wyatt Lash (executive chef at The Commoner, Downtown)
The dish I enjoy making is veal scallopini. This dish is near and dear to me because as a child my parents didn’t take us out to eat and my mom saved a lot of money by cooking at home. We ate a lot of pasta, rice and chicken and never really got to enjoy the finer things in life except for during the holidays. For the holidays, my parents would splurge on the things they enjoyed, and my favorite dish was veal scallopini, typically served on New Year’s Day. Over the years, the price of veal skyrocketed and it became a tradition less often.
I remember the smell in the kitchen to this day; the veal was soaked in milk, dipped in egg and seasoned breadcrumbs and pan fried. In a separate pan, mushrooms, garlic, peppers and onions were caramelized with olive oil and a touch of sugar (a secret I didn’t learn for years), and everything was deglazed with marsala wine. It was served simply with angel hair pasta, salad with red wine vinegar and garlic bread—to this day I cannot recreate that garlic bread. I would eat until I couldn’t move; this was the meal I always looked forward to.
Stephen Lanzilotti (chef de cuisine at Vallozzi’s, Downtown)
The meal I make for my family every Christmas is a roast tenderloin with a gravy made from the pan drippings. I make a whipped potato and frequently change up the seasoning, but a family favorite is smoked gouda and chives. In addition, I make mini crab cakes and work together along with my mom preparing the vegetable sides. It’s a simple dinner but still very tasty. My grandma from my mother’s side would do something similar every Sunday with a pot roast and potatoes, so this is my take on her dinner that we enjoyed so much in the past.