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Florida's Top Alternative Christmas Dishes

December 20, 2023

Key Lime Butter Basted Turkey Voted Florida's Top Alternative Christmas Dish.

America's Christmas table is a vibrant variety of regional flavors, with each state bringing its own culinary traditions to the festive feast. For example, Maine's shores inspire a Hearty Seafood Chowder, Succulent Lobster, and a sweet finish of Blueberry Pie, made from its iconic berries. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the festive flavors of Scandinavia reign supreme with dishes like: Lutefisk, Lefse, and Swedish Meatballs taking center stage. Yet, America's essence lies in its ever-evolving cultural mix. As our nation's demographics shift, so do our holiday dishes, blending traditional flavors with fresh influences.

Consider Oregon: a state where the rich Mexican cultural influence weaves seamlessly into its culinary heritage. Imagine a Christmas dinner in Oregon where the star dish is Hazelnut-Crusted Venison with Molé Poblano!

Here's a glimpse into the recipe: Start with Gamey Venison and give it a crunchy exterior using Oregon's Renowned Hazelnuts. This Northwest specialty pairs beautifully with the depth of a Molé Poblano sauce, a tribute to Oregon's Mexican community. The aromatic blend of Chocolate and Chilies in the Molé elevates the Venison, making every bite a celebration of fusion.

Recipe website: has run a survey of 3,000 foodies to unearth what each state's preferred contemporary Christmas dishes would be, with some tantalizing results. Below are Florida's top 3 choices:

#1 Key Lime Butter Basted Turkey: A Florida-twist on the classic Christmas Turkey, basted with Butter infused with Key Lime Juice for a citrusy punch.

Butter-Basted Lemon and Key Lime Turkey
Serves 10-12

• 1 Lemon
• 1 Key Lime
• 3 Ounces of Softened Butter
• 12 Lb. Oven-Ready Turkey, thawed if frozen
• 1 Onion
• 8 Ounces of Streaky Bacon
• Bay Leaves and Thyme Sprigs, to garnish

Grate the Rind from the Citrus Fruits, reserving the Flesh. In a bowl, mix the Butter, the Lemon and the Lime Rinds and season them with the Salt and the Pepper. Spread the Butter over a sheet of foil big enough to cover the area of the Turkey Breast. Cover it with another sheet of foil and press down to make an even layer of Butter and Chill it until it is firm.

Preheat the oven to 180°F. Remove the Giblets from the Turkey and wash the Bird inside and out. Dry it well with a kitchen paper towel. Quarter the Lemon and the Lime, peel and halve the Onion. Put these in the cavity of the Bird.

Loosen the skin of the Breast by sliding your hands (take off rings first) between the Flesh and the Skin — not a pleasant job, but worth doing. Peel the foil from the Chilled Butter (keep one piece of foil for a later stage) then slide it between the Breast and Skin (it will break up a bit but this is easier than spreading Soft Butter). Smooth the Skin back over the Butter then season the Turkey generously inside and out. Tie the Legs together at the top of the Drumsticks to give the Turkey a neat shape.

Weigh the Bird to calculate the cooking time – allow 20 minutes per pound, plus an extra 20 minutes added on. Put the Turkey in a Dry Roasting Pan and loosely cover the Breast with a sheet of Buttered foil. Do not enclose the whole Turkey in foil.

Roast the Turkey for the calculated cooking time, basting with the Pan Juices every 30-40 minutes. Half an hour before the end of cooking, remove the foil to crisp the Skin, Baste with the Pan Juices and lay the Bacon in a Lattice shape over the Breast.

To test if the Turkey is cooked, pierce the Thigh with a skewer at the thickest part. If the Juices run clear, it’s done; if they are a little pink, give it 15 minutes more, and then test again. Transfer it to a serving platter and cover it tightly with foil; rest it for 15 minutes to make carving it easier.

#2 Citrus-Marinated Roast Pork (Lechón) with Mojo Criollo: Florida's substantial Cuban-American population has made Roast Pork a staple. Marinating the Pork in the Orange and the Lime Juices, the Garlic and the Spices, then roasting it until succulent and serving it with the Mojo Criollo Sauce (Garlic-Citrus Sauce) celebrates this influence.

Citrus-Marinated Roast Pork (Lechón)
Serves 6

• 3 Lb. of Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast, see notes
• 1/2 Cup of Orange Juice
• 1/4 Cup of Lime Juice approximately 1 ½ - 2 Limes
• 1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice approximately 1 Lemon
• 1 1/2 Teaspoons of dry Oregano
• 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
• 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Salt
• 8 Cloves of Crushed Garlic
• 1/2 Onion or 1 Whole if small - sliced
• Ground Pepper to taste

Pat dry the Pork Roast and prepare a plastic container or freezer bag, big enough to hold it plus some liquid.

Squeeze the juice from the Orange, the Lime and the Lemon. Crush or finely chop the Garlic and thinly slice the Onion. Mix the Juices with the rest of the ingredients: Dry or fresh Oregano, Cumin, Salt, Garlic, Onion and Pepper in the container/bag.

Add the Pork into the Marinade and turn or seal the bag and shake it a little to cover it all over. Leave the Pork to marinate overnight in the fridge, ideally turning at least once.

When ready to cook it, take the Pork out of the fridge ahead of time - around 30 -60 minutes - to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Place the Pork in a roasting dish with the Skin side up, sitting in a little of the Citrus Marinade Juice. Save the rest of the Marinade, including all of the Onions. Baste the Pork with the Juice in the dish after 1-2 hours and continue cooking it. Roast it for 3 hours, or a little more if needed, covering it with the foil if the top gets too brown. You should get an internal temperature of at least 170°F to be able to slice, or 190°F - 200°F to be able to shred when it's ready.

While the Pork is cooking, bring the remaining Marinade to a gentle simmer and cook it for around 5 minutes to soften the Onions. Serve this as a sauce over the Pork when serving it.

#3 Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew): With a growing Brazilian population, a festive Seafood Stew with Coconut Milk, Peppers, Tomatoes and Dendê Oil brings tropical warmth to the holiday table.

Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)
Serves 4

Ingredients - Soup
• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of Fillets of Firm White Fish such as Halibut, Swordfish, or Cod, rinsed in Cold Water, Pin Bones removed, cut into large portions
• 3 Cloves of Minced Garlic
• 4 Tablespoons of Lime or Lemon Juice
• Salt to taste
• Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 Cup of chopped Spring Onion, or 1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped or sliced
• 1/4 Cup of Green Onion Greens, chopped
• 1/2 Yellow and 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded, De-Stemmed, chopped or sliced
• 2 Cups of chopped or sliced Tomatoes
• 1 Tablespoon of Paprika, Hungarian Sweet
• Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
• 1 Large bunch of Cilantro, chopped with some set aside for Garnish
• 1 14-Ounce Can of Coconut Milk

Ingredients - Rice
• 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 Onion, chopped
• 1 Clove of Minced Garlic
• 1 Cup of White Rice
• 1 3/4 Cups of Boiling Water (check your Rice package for the appropriate ratio of liquid to Rice for the type of rice you are using)
• 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Coat the Fish with the Garlic and the Lime Juice, place the Fish pieces in a bowl, add the Minced Garlic and the Lime Juice so that the pieces are well coated. Sprinkle it generously all over with the Salt and the Pepper.

If you are planning on serving the Soup with the Rice, start with the Rice.

Bring a couple Cups of Water to a boil. Heat one Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a medium saucepan on Medium High Heat. Add the Chopped 1/2 Onion and cook, stirring, until the Onion is translucent. Add the Garlic and cook it for 30 seconds more, until the Garlic is fragrant. Add the raw White Rice and stir to coat completely with the Oil, the Onions, and the Garlic.

Add the Boiling Water. (The amount depends on your brand of Rice, check the package. If no amounts are given, add 1 3/4 Cup of Water for every Cup of Rice.) Stir in 1 Teaspoon of Salt.

Bring it to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and let it cook for 15 minutes, after which, remove from heat until ready to serve with the Soup.

Start cooking the Onion, the Bell Pepper, the Tomatoes and the Onion Greens. In a large covered pan (such as a Dutch oven), coat the bottom with about 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and heat it on Medium Heat.

Add the chopped Onion and cook it for a few minutes until it is softened. Add the Bell Pepper, the Paprika, and the Red Pepper Flakes. Sprinkle them generously with the Salt and the Pepper. (At least a teaspoon of Salt.) Cook them for a few minutes longer, until the Bell Pepper begins to soften. Stir in the Chopped Tomatoes and the Onion Greens. Bring them to a simmer and cook them for 5 minutes, uncovered and stir in the Chopped Cilantro.

Layer the Vegetables with the Fish, add the Coconut Milk. Use a large spoon to remove about half of the Vegetables (you'll put them right back in). Spread the remaining Vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the Fish.

Arrange the Fish pieces on the Vegetables. Sprinkle them with the Salt and the Pepper. Then add back the previously removed Vegetables, covering the fish.

Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables.

Simmer, cook and adjust the seasonings. Bring the soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover it and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste it and adjust the seasonings.

You may need to add more Salt (likely), Lime or Lemon Juice, Paprika, Pepper, or Chili Flakes to get the soup to the desired seasoning for your taste.

Garnish it with the Cilantro and serve it with the Rice.

Miss Wish
‘Every Christmas table unfolds a story — a rich narrative of heritage, community, and creativity. The survey of foodies paints a portrait of America's diverse and vibrant culinary scene’ says Anna Young from Miss Wish.

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