A culinary pioneer himself, Dean Fearing of Dallas’s Mansion on Turtle Creek sought inspiration from other pioneers when he set out to create the ultimate Christmas dinner. From his own repertoire and his sizable collection of antique cookbooks, Fearing gleaned some “great little ideas” about Texas’ traditional holiday foods. Updating the vintage recipes to clarify hit-or-miss measurements and puzzling caveats (“Add enough flour to make a thin batter”; “Do not make this when the wind is coming out of the north”), Fearing has transformed Old West staples-cornmeal, beef, molasses, dried fruit-into a fresh and filling feast.

Fearing’s appetizer, Deviled oysters, takes that South Texas delicacy to angelic heights. Sweet-potato confetti and dried-cherry dressing enhance a salad of warm squab, and Indian griddle cakes recall the nineteenth century’s ubiquitous corn pone. For the main course of beef tenderloin, a marinade of molasses and black pepper gives the meat an intense, almost gamy flavor. To finish, Fearing offers two favorites from his own childhood: apple-cranberry pie with cheddar cheese crust (“a Granny Fearing recipe”) and date-nut chews (“a tin of those was Christmas”).

The final result is timeless food with modern panache. Says Fearing, best known for his inventive Southwestern cuisine: “At the restaurant, we get real traditional for Christmas; that’s what people want. With this meal, I want a sense of the old and the new. I want people to leave the table thinking, ‘Now that was Christmas dinner.’ ”


Warm Squab Salad with Dried-Cherry Dressing recipe
Indian Griddle Cakes and Corn Relish recipe
Deviled Oysters recipe
Beef Tenderloin with Smoked-Bacon Compote recipe
Date-Nut Chews recipe
Apple-Cranberry Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust recipe