Merry Christmas! I hope you’ve all had a great day so far and are relaxing with loved ones!
Having grown up in New England, Christmas, to me, means a nip in the air, snow on the ground and spending the day huddled by a fire with a mug of hot chocolate in my hands. I am a little out of my element here in Miami, where palm trees replace pine trees & there is sand instead of snow!
I was having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit… until last night! Every year our family here in Miami hosts a traditional Cuban Christmas Eve celebration. The celebration is called Nochebuena, which translates to “Good Night!”
And let me tell you,it was a VERY good night!
The whole evening revolves around family & traditional Cuban dishes. One of the appetizers was bacon-wrapped dates. I’m not a date person normally, but these were so delicious – a perfect combination of salty & sweet flavors!
I loaded up on 3 of my favorite Cuban staples: arroz y frijoles, yuca and lechón.
I made my arroz y frijoles, or rice and beans, into “arroz moro” by mixing them!
Yuca con mojo, or yuca with garlic sauce, is one of my favorite Cuban sides. It’s a root of a plant from North & Central America and has a consistency of a stringy potato when cooked. It’s a starch that is boiled and drizzled with a sauce made from garlic, onion, lemon juice & olive oil. YUM.
The lechón is the feature dish at Nochebuena, it’s like our turkey at Thanksgiving! The pig is often cooked outside in a “Caja China,” a large box with hot coals, and the meat is shredded before serving.
This was my 2nd Nochebuena & it was so fun the festivities carried on until the wee hours of the morning! Everyone made us feel so welcome. I am recovering on the beach today and am off to Annapolis, Maryland tonight for one more week of winter vacation. I get sun, sandy beaches and snow all in one day, lucky me!
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy some good times with family & food today!