Nathalie Dupree’s Treasured Holiday Recipes

Known for her upscale Southern cooking, the television show host and restaurateur makes favorites from culinary school for her Christmas dinner.
By Addie Ladner | Photographs by Eamon Queeney

Nathalie Dupree is a legendary Southern chef who has traveled the globe, published 14 cookbooks and received multiple James Beard and lifestyle achievement awards. And while her holiday celebrations over the years have been anything but traditional, these days for Christmas she prefers to keep it simple in her Raleigh home. This year, she and her husband Jack Bass plan to enjoy a standing rib roast, turnip gratin (”I always make this during the holidays, as soon as turnips are in season!“) and Potatoes Anna on their holiday table.

These recipes are adapted from her Dupree’s awarding winning cookbook, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, which she co-authored with Cynthia Grauhart. They make for a fuss-free yet elegant Christmas meal, and also delicious leftovers.

Standing Rib Roast

“I love doing a basic roast like this to have to make decadent sandwiches afterwards for leftovers,” says Dupree.

1 (3 to 5 pound) rib roast, trimmed, with cap removed
Vegetable oil
1 garlic clove per pound, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary leaves per pound
Freshly ground pepper 

Directions: Remove from the refrigerator up to 3 hours before cooking. Sprinkle salt on the surface area of the meat and let sit, lightly covered, until at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Rub the ends with the oil and rub the meat with the garlic, rosemary and pepper. Place the meat, bone side down, into a low sided roasting pan large enough to hold the meat with an inch of room all around.Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350. Continue to roast, about 20 minutes per pound, checking temperature after half an hour, until meat registers 120 on a meat thermometer. For a more rare roast, do 20 degrees below desired temperature. Remove from oven, tent it with foil and let stand at least 30 minutes (it will continue to cook while resting) before carving and serving. 

Turnip Gratin

Dupree says blanching the turnips tones down their harshness but keeps the earthy flavor. “This is a different gratin with a little more oomph. I always make this during the holidays as soon as turnips are in season. You can make it in advance and people like to have something unusual.”

3 pounds white turnips, peeled and sliced inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, thyme and/or oregano
3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the sliced turnips and return to a slow boil. Simmer 3 minutes for young, small turnips, or up to 10 minutes for larger ones; you want to remove excess sharpness but still leave a bit of pep in them. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Butter a long casserole dish that will accommodate three layers of sliced turnips and the cheese — preferably no more than 3 inches deep. Spread a layer of parboiled turnips to cover the dish (they may overlap slightly) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the herbs with the garlic and sprinkle a third over the turnips. Combine with cheeses and sprinkle the turnips with a third of the mixture. Dot with a third of the butter. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned. Serve hot. This freezes well for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost then reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Potatoes Anna

“I learned this at cooking school. It’s such an easy and elegant way to serve potatoes. You essentially just slice them, then layer them with butter and salt.”

1 1/2 to 1 1/3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and sliced inch thick
Black pepper
5 to 8 tablespoons butter

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Thickly butter a 6-inch heavy, nonstick or well-seasoned frying pan or cake tin. Arrange the potatoes in overlapping circles to cover the base of the pan, making a pretty design. Add a second layer, continuing to overlap, and season with salt and pepper; dot with 4 to 5 pieces of butter. Continue to fill the pan with layers of potatoes (the first two and the last are the only ones that need to be pretty; the rest can be haphazard), seasoning and butter every other layer. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and cover the potatoes and the pan. Put an ovenproof plate or heavy saucepan on top of the foil to press down on the potatoes. Cook the potatoes on the stove over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes to brown the bottom, checking to be sure it is not burning. When medium brown — the color of light caramel — move the pan to the oven, leaving the ovenproof plate on if it fits. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, depending on the number of potatoes. Using oven mitts, turn out upside down on a serving dish, To serve, cut with a knife or scissors. This may be made ahead to this point and set aside if necessary, but it will suffer a bit. Reheat for 10 minutes, then serve as above.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Dupree says,“people got a bad impression of Brussels sprouts because their mothers cooked them until they were soggy. Now we know to halve them and crisp them up. They’re so tasty, and when cooked right they’re so delicious.”

1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 to 4 tablespoons butter or oil
Salt and pepper
Cranberries, bacon and/or pecans for garnish

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the halved or quartered sprouts in the oil and spread in one layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp but tender. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cranberries, chopped bacon or pecans.

Chocolate Yule Log

“This is such an elegant dessert that’s not too fussy. And one you don’t have to worry about since it’s supposed to be cracked and log-like!”

Ingredients for log 

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chips or chopped
1/4 cup water
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Ingredients for the filling 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or bourbon, optional

Directions” Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 15 ½ x 10 ½-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, slightly extending over the edges. If using waxed paper, oil the pan and the paper or spray with nonstick spray. Melt the chocolate with the water in a heavy pan over low heat or in the microwave. Beat the egg yolks vigorously with the sugar until light. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer or wire whisk until they form stiff peaks. Fold the melted chocolate into the yolk mixture. Add a dollop of the white mixture to the yolks to soften and then fold the heavier chocolate mixture into the lighter whites until incorporated. Spread out in the pan, smooth the top and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool thoroughly. 

Meanwhile, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla or bourbon into stiff peaks, taking care not to overbeat. Sprinkle another sheet of waxed paper with confectioners’ sugar. Flip the pan over so the lightly browned surface is on the sugared paper, and remove the pan. Tear off the baked-on paper in strips. Trim off any dark or crisp edges. Spread the whipped cream over the entire chocolate soufflé. Lift up the squared paper and use the paper to roll the soufflé into a spiraled, filled roll. The dessert may be rolled vertically or horizontally. A horizontal roll will result in a thicker roll for six larger servings. A vertical roll will serve eight people with smaller servings. Roll as tightly as possible. Move the edge of the paper onto the platter and lift up for the final roll, centering the roll with hands if necessary. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Slice into 1-inch thick pieces and serve. This may be made ahead, filled and served up to 8 hours later. 

These recipes originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of WALTER magazine.