Savor: Southern Twist on Tradition

BY Barrie Cohen

Photography by Allison Potter

Among the wrapped gifts the fresh pine of the Christmas tree ropes of lights and garland the traditional holiday feast stands as the star of the season.

 Inspiration for our new twist on a traditional holiday dinner stems from Chef Eric Gepharts Southern roots and love for local fresh ingredients.

With this innovative gourmet menu we challenge home cooks to lose the ham and go for the goose. Gepharts affection for this fine-feathered fowl places the bird as the centerpiece of the meal. 

The majesty of a bird on the table is underestimated. For some families it is the only thing that can get them to sit together and have a meal even if just once or twice a year he says. 

A fatty and succulent bird a citrus-stuffed goose shines as the masterpiece of the feast. Normally fattier than turkey goose is best prepared by soaking the bird in boiling water to seal the pores and to preserve its rich flavor. Citrus fruit such as grapefruit lemons and limes are often stuffed into the goose to increase the flavor. A seven- to nine-pound goose generally cooks the easiest. Ordered directly from the farm or easily attainable at most supermarkets Gepharts appetite for the goose goes beyond the dinner table. Goose is great for leftovers especially for sandwiches he says.

Pairing the goose with a wide variety of down-home Southern eats this menus twist on tradition focuses on the freshness of locally grown food
including Stump Sound oysters served with corn chow chow (similar to relish) and bacon.

Stump Sound oysters were chosen for their brininess or saltiness. Bacon
provides the textural contrast a little crunch that we look for with the soft meaty oyster and the corn chow chow provides a bit of sweetness as well as acid to excite the pallet for the next bite Gephart says. 

To complement the Stump Sound oyster Gephart chose several other dishes to accompany the warm flavor of the goose. The menu includes chicken consomm grilled venison with a wilted cabbage salad sweet potato biscuits with maple butter parsnip whipped potatoes cranberry horseradish relish root roast and a country fair favorite dirt cake.

Dirt cake a Southern treat and a childhood favorite for Gephart adds the sweetness of chocolate to the meal.

Dirt cake is usually plated in a flower pot and served with a garden trowel. This dessert just makes a statement that says I grew up in the South and I am here for the party. The richness of this culinary delight is enough to put anyone over the edge and proves to be impossible to turn down seconds Gephart says.


Traditional Holiday Dinner with a Southern Twist

Prepared by Chef Eric Gephart



Stump Sound Oyster with crispy Bacon and Corn Chow Chow

Lemon Herb Chicken Consomm

Grilled Venison Salad with Wilted Cabbage Goat Cheese Corn Bread Crostini an Bourbon Dressing

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Maple butter

Parsnip Whipped Potatoes

Cranberry Horseradish Relish

Roasted Goose

Root Roast with Balsamic Drizzle

Dirt Cake


Stump Sound oyster with crispy Bacon and Corn Chow Chow

Serves 8


Oysters 16 Stump Sound or Topsails       

5 pieces Bacon                                           

Corn Chow Chow

1 cup Corn kernels                             

1 each Shallots chopped                    

1 each Red bell pepper chopped        

1/2 each Jalapenos chopped               

1/2 cup Cider vinegar                         

1/4 cup Sugar                                     

2 teaspoons Dry mustard                               

1 pinch Turmeric                                

Salt to taste


In a small pot combine corn shallots bell peppers jalapeos vinegar sugar salt mustard and turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes cool and reserve. Chop bacon to resemble thick match sticks cook bacon until crispy drain and reserve. Shuck oysters. Preserve as much liquid as possible. Top each oyster with the Corn Chow Chow then top with crispy bacon and enjoy.


Lemon Herb Chicken Consomm

Makes two quarts 8 servings


1/2 lb. Ground turkey                         

4 oz Onion                                         

2 oz Carrots                                        

2 oz Celery                                         

4 oz Egg whites                                  

4 oz Lemon juice                                

4 each Parsley stem                            

1 Pinch dried thyme                           

1 each Bay leaf                                   

2 each Cloves whole                          

1/2 tablespoon Peppercorns                           

2 1/2  quarts Chicken stock                                 


Combine ground turkey onions celery carrots lemon juice herbs spices and egg whites in a heavy stock pot. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the stock and let stand for 20 minutes. Be sure the stock is mixed well with the other ingredients. Set the pot on medium to low heat and let the liquid come to simmer very slowly stirring occasionally. When the liquid is almost to the simmering point stop stirring. Reduce heat and simmer very slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Do not disturb the raft that forms on top. Very carefully strain the consomm through a fine strainer lined with a coffee filter and degrease thoroughly. Season to taste.

Roasted Goose

Serves 8



Your choice of stuffing                                         


Remove the neck and giblets from the goose and snip off the tips of the wings. Reserve for gravy if youd like. Remove excess fat and skin from the cavity. Also pluck any remaining feathers or quills. With a skewer pierce the skin several times. Pour two pots of boiling water over the bird. Place it breast side up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Pat dry and let stand in the fridge for a couple of hours to get rid of any excess water. Stuff the bird loosely with your favorite stuffing and tie the cavities closed. Roast goose breast down for 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees in the center of the oven. (There will be a lot of fat drippings during this process. I like to place the cut vegetables for the root roast under the bird to begin the cooking process in the goose fat.) After 1 1/2  hours remove the bird and drain out the majority of the fat that has collected in the pan (also remove the roasted root vegetables to finish at your leisure). Place the bird back in the oven breast side up and finish roasting for another 1 1/2  hours or until the bird reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees. Remove from the oven remove the stuffing and let stand 30 minutes before carving. Remember your stuffing must reach 165 degrees to ensure no harmful bacteria.

Root Roast With Balsamic Drizzle

Serves 8


1/2 cup Olive oil (or goose fat)           

8 oz Red-skinned potatoes                 

8 oz Celery root                                    

8 oz Beets                                           

4 oz Carrots                                        

4 oz Parsnips                          

1 Onion white                                    

1 Leek (white parts only)        

2 sprigs Fresh rosemary                     

5 each Garlic cloves peeled            

2 cups Balsamic vinegar                     

1/4 cup Sugar                                     


Cut all vegetables into similar size. Combine all vegetables except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat with oil/fat. Season generously with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes shaking and rotating as necessary. Add the garlic and roast for another 30 minutes until roasted and soft. In a pot combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar and reduce by half. This will make an excellent drizzle.


Grilled Venison Salad With Wilted Cabbage Goat Cheese Corn Bread Crostini and Bourbon Dressing

Serves 8 


10 strips Bacon          

2 oz Extra virgin olive oil        

6 oz Venison grilled/sliced thin

3 cloves Garlic

1 tablespoon Chili flakes        

1 head Cabbage sliced           

Salt/fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup Goat cheese      

1/4 cup Pecans toasted                       


In a saut pan cook bacon and add olive oil to the bacon grease. Remove bacon when crisp add garlic and chili flakes and then the cabbage. Cook until soft for 3 to 4 minutes add the bourbon dressing toss and mound on serving plate topped with bacon pecans and your favorite corn bread recipe; slice thin and spread goat cheese on top heat until warm. Place on top of the salad.


Bourbon Dressing


1/3 cup Cider vinegar                           

l tablespoon Light brown sugar                      

3 tablespoons Bourbon                                  

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard                             

3/4  teaspoon Salt                                           

1/2  teaspoon Freshly ground pepper             

2/3 cup Canola oil                              


Whisk together vinegar brown sugar bourbon Dijon mustard salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add canola oil in a slow steady stream whisking constantly until smooth.


Parsnip Whipped Potatoes

Serves 8


3 lbs Potatoes Yukon gold                 

3 oz Butter melted                              

1 cup Heavy cream                 

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb Parsnips                                          


Peel parsnips and cut into medium pieces simmer until soft and then process. Choose whether to peel potatoes cut into uniform size. Place potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer until done. Drain well. Pass the potatoes through a food mill ricer or bowl of a mixer and beat in butter then the cream then the parsnip and season. Do not over whip (the potatoes will become pasty). 


 Cranberry Horseradish Relish

Serves 8


2 cups Whole raw cranberries                       

1 Onion white                        

3/4 cup Sour cream                            

1/2 cup Sugar                                     

3 tablespoons Horseradish                             


Grind the onion and raw berries together combine this mixture with the rest of the ingredients and process.  Grind the raw berries and onion together combine this mixture with the rest of the ingredients and process. 


Sweet Potato Biscuits with Maple Butter

Serves 8


1 3/4 cups All-purpose flour              

2 tablespoons Light-brown sugar       

2 1/2  teaspoons Baking powder        

1 teaspoon Salt                                   

1/2  teaspoon Baking soda                 

6 tablespoons Chilled unsalted butter             

3/4 cup Sweet potato pure                 

1/3  cup Buttermilk                   


In a large bowl whisk together flour sugar baking powder salt and baking soda. With a fork cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal with some lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl whisk together sweet potato puree and buttermilk. Stir quickly into flour mixture until combined. Do not over mix.

Shape the biscuits

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy five or six times. (If dough is too sticky work in up to 1/4  cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps and repeat to cut out more biscuits. (Do not reuse scraps more than once.)

Bake the biscuits

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan (to help them stay upright). Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden rotating once 20 to 24 minutes.


Maple butter


1 lb Butter unsalted                

1/4 cup Brown sugar                          

1/2 cup Maple syrup                          


Bring butter to room temperature. Mix all ingredients and fill a pastry bag piping any shape or into any bowl.

Dirt Cake

Serves 8


1 package Oreo cookies         

12 oz Cream cheese    

6 tbsp Butter unsalted

4 packages (3.9 oz each)

   Instant chocolate pudding    

4 3/4 cups Milk                      

16 oz (1 tub thawed) Whipped topping                                


Process Oreos until mixture resembles dirt and reserve. In a bowl combine cream cheese and butter and stir until creamy reserve. In a separate bowl whisk instant-pudding mixes and milk; stir until well mixed. Using a rubber spatula fold pudding mixture into cream-cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream. In a flowerpot or bucket with a 5-quart capacity alternate layers of cookie dirt and pudding mixture starting and ending with cookie dirt. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Garnish with gummy worms/flowers and serve with a trowel.