In all fairness, Cuban-Rican Christmas is sort of a misnomer – it only refers to the Nochebuena dinner. Como nadie se puede quedar fuera, least of all Alan, we have a Chilean lunch: Empanadas. That is the start of all our Nochebuenas since we’ve been married. We are a diverse bunch so we have to be inclusive! 😉
Don’t they look yummy???? And it is a great way to hold off the hunger while the pork roasting in the oven aromatiza la casa entera.
Aside from the obvious religious and family reasons to love Christmas, there is one more reason why I love Christmas: I get to cook Cuban food.
*Sigh*, no I do not cook Cuban food year round. I know, hard to believe right? But, it is just not efficient. First, I only know how to cook for four or more people. Leftovers, you scream. Not so fast. Alan, as Papi (q.e.p.d.), will not eat leftovers. New day, fresh meal…and I will not throw away food. So, gasp! I cook mainly American – bistés and chicken with some rice, vegetables, or mashed potatoes.
So back to the joys of making Cuban food. I make the frijoles negros in advance either the night before or that very morning (frijoles taste sooo much better after they sit for awhile!), and I have to admit this year I made my best frijoles yet (and man, I make kickass frijoles negros).
Although I know el puerco tastes great with just sal y pimienta, I’m sorry I like my lechon seasoned with mojo – naranjas agrias, ajo, cebolla, comino, sal y pimienta. It’s just not Nochebuena otherwise.
So while the puerco roasts, and the frijoles rest, Marisol gets to work on the arroz con gandules. Hey, I was raised in Puerto Rico but my house was a vacuum sealed Cuban enclave. I have never cooked with recao in all my life and have no clue where to start. To each his own and since she is the original PuertoRican, she makes the arroz con gandules. She is also in charge of supplying the pasteles (Puerto Rican tamales if you will).
Once the puerco hits those cherished 155 degrees, I turn the oven off and cook the Yuca. I also make the mojo at this time – naranja agría, some limón, ajo, cebolla, aceite de oliva (very HOT), and some of the puerco juices. Yum, I’m getting hungry just writing this.
Puerco, frijoles negros, yuca, pasteles and arroz con gandules…you put that all together and what do you get?