Traditional and festive though turkey may be, there are times when one wants an alternative for Christmas dinner. Roast beef, ham, goose, and game birds all offer a welcome change.
But most spectacular of all is a crown roast of pork decked out with paper frills and filled with a delicious savory stuffing. This roast is royal indeed, and no one at its holiday table will miss Tom Turkey.
Begin the feast with a scallop ceviche that literally prepares itself while you attend to other parts of the dinner. In this dish, lime juice in a marinade ''cooks'' the scallops without heat and without bother.
Red caviar, either lumpfish or salmon, depending upon your financial state by that time, makes a beautiful garnish, especially at Christmas time.
Individual scallop shells, if you have them, present the ceviche attractively.
A wild rice stuffing is spooned into the center of the crown roast of pork before it finishes cooking. Diced apples, toasted pine nuts, currants, ham, and herbs add texture and contrast to the rice.
Apple cider as a basting liquid gives extra succulence to the meat. At serving time, surround the pork roast with sauteed apple rings or spiced crab apples and fresh watercress. Top the exposed ribs with paper frills, perhaps in red for this special occasion.
To complete the Christmas feast, here is a lemon sponge roulade, filled with fresh cranberry sauce, then rolled up and decorated to satisfy your fancy. Scallop Ceviche With Red Caviar 3/4 cup lime juice 3/8 cup olive oil 1 scallion, green part included, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 2 pounds bay scallops 1 tablespoon chives, minced 1 tablespoon parsley, minced 1 2-ounce jar red lumpfish or salmon caviar
In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, olive oil, scallion, and salt and pepper. Marinate scallops in liquid for several hours or overnight in refrigerator, stirring from time to time. When ''cooked'' they will turn opaque. Before serving, bring scallops to room temperature. Drain them and mix in chives and parsley. Put each serving on a piece of red leaf lettuce on scallop shells or small plates. Garnish each with a spoonful of red caviar. Makes 8 servings. Crown Roast of Pork Crown roast of pork, cut from the loin and tied together in a ring, allowing two ribs per person 1 garlic clove Freshly ground pepper A little flour 1 cup apple cider 2 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, minced 2 cups tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced 4 cups cooked rice, either wild or a combination of wild and white or brown 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, or other nuts 1/4 cup currants (or raisins), plumped in a little cider 1/4 cup finely diced ham 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried sage 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon coriander Salt and pepper to taste
Have butcher prepare and tie crown roast of pork, using one or two pieces of loin, depending on the size you need. Allow two chops per person. Either butcher or you can scrape ends of rib bones down to lean meat. Cover exposed bones with foil to prevent scorching during cooking.
Rub meat with cut clove of garlic and sprinkle with pepper. Dust a little flour on fat to make it crispier. Put roast in preheated 325 degrees F. oven and roast for 30 minutes per pound. When done, internal temperature should be 180 degrees F. During cooking, baste meat often with cider and pan juices.
Meanwhile, or ahead of time, prepare stuffing. Melt butter in large frying pan and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add diced apples and gently cook 5 minutes longer, stirring. Add cooked rice, then stir in remaining ingredients, mixing them evenly.
Thirty to 40 minutes before roast has completed cooking, spoon stuffing into cavity in middle and finish cooking.
If you have too much stuffing, put extra in oven-proof bowl and place it in oven as well. To serve, put paper frills on rib bones. Surround with spiced crab apples or apple rings and lots of watercress.
To make paper frills: take a piece of paper about 3 by 5 inches and fold it in half lengthwise. Cut parallel lines close together about halfway across. Roll paper up and tape inconspicuously. Make one for each rib. Lemon Cranberry Roulade 5 large eggs, separated 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 cups cranberries 3/4 cup water 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Line a jellyroll pan (16- by 11- by 1-inch) with waxed or parchment paper to extend about 1 inch over the end. Butter and flour it, then shake out excess flour. Set aside.
Beat together egg yolks and sugar until yolks turn pale yellow. Add grated lemon peel and juice. Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually stir dry ingredients into egg yolk mixture.
In a large, clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold a spoonful into batter, then quickly and deftly fold in rest of whites. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and smooth it out into corners with spatula. Bake in preheated 375 degrees F. oven for 15 minutes.
As soon as you remove cake from oven, loosen edges. After it has cooled 5 or 10 minutes, cover with tea towel and carefully turn cake over onto towel. Lift off pan, peel away paper, then roll cake up the long way in towel. Be sure to do this while the cake is still warm. Keep cake covered to retain moisture.
To make cranberry sauce, wash and drain berries, removing any stems. Put them in pot with water and sugar and bring just to boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a tablespoon or so of water and stir it into cranberry mixture. Simmer, stirring continually, until liquid thickens slightly. Take off heat and allow to cool.
Shortly before serving - not ahead of time - unroll cake and spread it with cranberry sauce. Roll cake up again, putting seam on bottom, and cut off two ends with serrated knife. Put cake on a serving plate and decorate with rosettes of sweetened whipped cream and a sprig of holly, or whatever you fancy. Makes 8 servings.