Christmas is truly one of the busiest but beautiful times of the year. Foremost, this was the joyous time of celebration such as; Christmas parties, holiday family reunions, renewing friendships, fond traditions to celebrate, gift-giving, mass community service, and of course, the celebration of the birth of Jesus that means to bring a message of peace and hope.
But this joyous time is sometimes overshadowed by the stress of preparing for Christmas. Today, most individuals are preoccupied with their jobs, and Christmas preparations are often put off until the last minute. That is why shops, department stores, malls, groceries, and supermarkets burst at the seams just a few days before Christmas with last-minute shoppers.
Noche Buena? Filipinos often hear this, especially during holiday seasons, since Filipinos refer to this as the special meal prepared and eaten with family on Christmas Eve. This custom is deep in tradition, having been observed since the advent of Christianity more than 300 years ago, during the Spanish occupation. After hearing mass, families would rush home to prepare their unique Christmas dishes, the majority of which had been cooking all day. Compared to Philippine fiestas, which are large gatherings of people in a neighborhood, Noche Buena is a more intimate feast. Whereas fiestas bring together old and new friends, Noche Buena is a celebration for just family, making it even more special.
We are starting to have a countdown for Christmas, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Christmas foods that will ensure your Noche Buena table is delicious and festive. This year’s collection of Christmas savory dishes is simple enough to prepare that they will make your holidays stress-free.
Morcon is a Filipino meat roll stuffed with sausage or hotdogs, carrots, pickles, cheese, and egg. This is considered a holiday dish and is usually served during Christmas and New Year’s eve. This is a Filipino-style roulade prepared from folded lean beef stuffed with a variety of contents such as hard-boiled eggs, sausages, sweet pickles, cheese, and carrots, among others. While beef is the most common ingredient in Morcon cuisine, poultry and pork can also be used. You’ll need a huge piece of meat cut thin, regardless of the meat you choose. You can either slice the meat yourself or have it sliced for Morcon by your butcher. It’s generally cooked with tomato sauce, although some recipes call for sweetened pineapple juice instead. Morcon is sliced and served with the sauce that comes with it.
Ground pig, chicken, or beef, shredded carrots, crushed pineapple or sweet pickle relish, and raisins are used to make this Filipino-style meatloaf. The meat mixture is rolled and firmly wrapped in foil around hard-boiled eggs and sausage. Due to its time-consuming preparation, embutido is usually reserved for special occasions such as festivals or fiestas. Not only can you double (or quadruple) the recipe, but the steamed loaves also store well for up to three months and can be quickly reheated. I roll up my sleeves once or twice a month, roll up a dozen or so meatloaves, and keep them in the freezer for when a craving strikes —having a continuous supply in the freezer has relieved me of the burden of having to worry about dinner on hectic weeknights or when I have unexpected visitors.
3. Crispy Pata
If Lechon is too expensive or too big for the celebration, crispy pork leg is a popular Filipino pork dish that will take the center stage. It can be eaten as a main dish along with rice and atchara papaya. Filipinos also partner it with beer as pulutan. It is also best when dipped in a spicy vinegar mixture.
Special occasions always call for a Kaldereta at the table. It is a goat meat stew specialty in the Philippines. Variations of the dish use beef, chicken, or pork. Commonly, the goat meat is stewed with vegetables and liver paste. Vegetables may include tomatoes, potatoes, olives, bell peppers, and hot peppers. Kaldereta sometimes includes tomato sauce.
5. Arroz Valenciana
Using sticky rice, chicken, pig, coconut milk, veggies, and spices, Arroz a la Valenciana is a rice-based cuisine. It’s similar to paella, except instead of mussels, prawns, squid, clams, and crabs, Arroz a la Valenciana focuses on pork and chicken, with some chorizos thrown in for good measure. This is a Latin American dish that is also served in Filipino restaurants.
Bibingka cooked in a stove that used charcoal is a type of rice cake native to the Philippines. This is traditionally made from galapong (milled glutinous rice), coconut milk, margarine, and sugar. During Simbang Gabi on Christmas season, side street vendors are common to prepare and sell this delicious rice cake along with “puto bumbong.”
7. Pancit Malabon
It is a Filipino noodle dish that is a type of pancit which originates from Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines. It uses thick rice noodles. Its sauce has a yellow-orange hue, attributable to achuete, shrimp broth, and a flavor seasoned with patis and taba ng talangka.
8. Leche Flan
Add extra sweetness in your celebration with this dessert made of eggs and milk with a soft caramel on top. It can be added or partnered to build other great-tasting dessert creations like eating it with ube or put it on top of halu-halo which makes it special.
9. Buko Salad
It’s one of the simplest sweets to create, and it doesn’t require any cooking. It’s a fruit salad with a Filipino twist. Mixed fruits, thickened cream, nata de coco, kaong (sugar palm), coconut, and condensed milk are commonly used. This dessert is a staple in every special occasion in the Philippines, including birthdays, fiestas, weddings, Christmas, and New Year’s dinner, so if you haven’t tried something similar before, you should prepare one this Christmas.
10. Fruit Salad
Another quick and easy dessert to prepare, in preparing this dish all you have to do is use canned fruit cocktails, table cream, and condensed milk. The mixture is chilled inside the fridge overnight before serving to get the best result.
And there you have it! Coming up with what food to preapre for Noche Buena will surely be easier when you select through this list.