Bobby Williams, left, and Mike Davis, right, sit down at Terra in West Columbia to plan out Christmas Eve dinner together. Photo courtesy of Katie Alice Walker.

Every year, Chef Mike Davis of West Columbia's Terra, sits down with his father-in-law, Bobby Williams, CEO of the beloved Lizard's Thicket meat-and-three restaurants, to plan out their annual Christmas Eve dinner. Trained by the likes of James Beard Award-winning chefs Susan Spicer and Frank Stitt, Mike always prepares a signature beef cut that is accompanied by sides from the Williams' family recipes. Both are wine enthusiasts and, in a tradition that is now a decade in the making, they each reserve the most special bottles they come across each year for their Christmas Eve dinner.

They gave us a sneak peek at this year's menu, including recipes for Davis' Standing Rib Roast and Aunt Crystal's Congealed Salad, a Williams' family recipe.

Christmas Eve Dinner with the Williams-Davis Family

Pickled White Shrimp (Davis)

Standing Brasstown Beef Rib Roast (recipe below – Davis)

Haricots Vert with Tomatoes and Crispy Shallots (Williams)

Wild Mushroom Carolina Gold Rice (Williams)

Aunt Crystal's Congealed Christmas Salad (recipe below – Williams)

Standing Brasstown Beef Rib Roast

  • 1 three-bone ribeye roast
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic whole, smashed with knife to release oil
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season outside heavily with coarse kosher salt and coarse fresh ground black pepper. Sear roast on all sides in iron skillet, ensuring that you have good colorization on all sides. When seared, pull roast from skillet. Add 3 oz. butter to skillet until melted, add two crushed garlic cloves and two sprigs of rosemary. You should hear a popping sound when herbs are in skillet. Take spoon and baste all sides of roast with the flavored butter. Place roast on roasting rack and put in oven. Put probe thermometer into thickest part of roast. (I use a digital model with an alert.) Cook roast to internal temperature of 135 degrees for medium rare, 142 for medium, and 150 for medium well. Let roast rest for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Slice and enjoy!

If you do not have a skillet big enough for searing roast, set oven to 450 first and "oven sear" roast, then turn oven to 350 and cook. Baste roast with herb butter when done.


Aunt Crystal's Congealed Salad

  • 2 large boxes of cherry Jell-O (can substitute with any flavor)
  • 1 (20-oz.) can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup (drained)
  • 1 (8-oz.) block of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1+ cup of pecan halves (optional)

Follow directions for the speed set method on Jell-O box. Let Jell-O thicken enough to stir together. Add drained crushed pineapple (gently squeeze as much juice out as you can) and softened cream cheese. Mix on low with electric hand mixer until completely blended. Stir in pecans if desired. Pour mixture in a glass bowl or Bundt pan and return to refrigerator to congeal.