Classic, fail-safe 'Noche Buena' recipes

Posted at 12/24/09 10:36 AM

Working Mom

MANILA, Philippines - "Noche Buena" is a traditional meal during Christmas Eve, when families typically feast on ham or roasted pork "lechon", cheese, and bread.

This holiday, you can try a couple of time-tested gourmet recipes with a mix of local of foreign flavors. These delightful and simple dishes are sure to impress your guests, family, and friends as you bond over food this Christmas.

Recipe 1: Lechon Paksiw. This pork stew is one of Filipinos' favorite dishes, with its vinegary taste and lightly spicy flavor. Lechon Paksiw is sure to brighten any Christmas Eve spread.


1 1/2 kg cooked lechon
4 cups lechon sauce
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1/2 cup sliced onions
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
2 pieces pork broth cubes
8 pieces peppercorns
3/4 cup sugar
2 pieces bay leaves
1/4 cup liquid seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)


1. Chop up "lechon" or roast pork into serving pieces and transfer to a pot.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil without stirring.
3. Continue simmering over low heat for another 20 minutes until sauce lightly thickens.
4. Serve piping hot in a casserole or bowl.

Recipe 2: Paella Valenciana. One of three known types of paella (or Spanish rice dish), Valencian paella typically consists of vegetables, white rice, meat, snails, and seasoning. Other key ingredients are saffron and olive oil. This pan-fried meal is a sumptious addition to your "Noche Buena."


1/4 cup pure olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup sliced onions
2 sliced chorizo de bilbao (a spicy semi-cured sausage)
150 grams cubed chicken fillet
150 grams cubed porkloin
1/2 cup sliced red bell peppers
2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups tomato sauce
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green peas
10 pieces cooked prawns
1/2 cup pitted green olives
20 pieces cooked half-shell mussels
1/4 cup chopped parsley
a pinch of saffron threads
lemon wedges
blanched asparagus spears


1. Heat olive oil in a large pan or paellera. Sautee garlic, onions and chorizo de bilbao until aromatic.
2. Add chicken and porkloin. Cook until meat turns brown. Add bell peppers and rice. Cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Pour tomato sauce, chicken broth and white wine. Stir and bring to a boil. Add saffron and salt. Stir well. Spread rice over the base of the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed by rice.
4. Stir in green peas, prawns, olives and mussels. Cover and allow rice to cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges and asparagus spears.

Recipe 3: Mushroom-Chicken Loaf with Gravy. As bright and cheery as traditional Christmas fruit cakes, these chicken meatloaf slices are perfect additions to light Noche Buena meals. If there are leftovers, you can even fry them into patties and eat them as burgers on Christmas day.


For meat loaf:

1 can (400 grams) drained and coarsely chopped mushrooms (pieces and stems)
1/2 kilograms ground chicken
1 chopped large onion
1 piece crumbled chicken bouillon cube
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 50-gram diced medium red bell pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 teaspoon iodized fine salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

For mushroom gravy:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 piece chopped medium-sized onion
1 can (198 grams) drained mushrooms
1 can (170 grams) cream of mushroom soup


1. Combine all ingredients for meat loaf. Press into a medium-sized loaf pan.
2. Bake at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool before slicing and set aside.
3. For the mushroom gravy, heat oil. Saute onion and mushrooms. Add cream of mushroom soup and 1/2 can of water. Season with pepper then simmer for 1 minute. Serve with meatloaf. This recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.

Recipe 4: Steamed Lapu-Lapu with Mayonnaise.
Want a hearty but fresh dish for your Noche Buena? Try this steamed fish recipe for you meal. This grouper fish has a silky texture and a light taste. Plus, it's a healthy break from all the fatty Christmas food.


1 1/2 kilograms whole lapu-lapu, cleaned and scaled
1 liter water
2 8-gram seasoning granules
1 cup sliced leeks
1/4 cup sliced ginger
1 teaspoon salt

For garnish:

2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/4 cup pickle relish
3 boiled and chopped eggs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
salt and pepper to taste


1. Boil lapu-lapu in water with seasoning granules, leeks, ginger, and salt. Cook for approximately 10 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. Remove cooked fish from stock.
2. Set aside cooked fish at room temperature until cold then keep in the chiller for at least 1 hour.
3. Remove skin off fish. Spread with mayonnaise on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Arrange choices of garnish in rainbow stripes on top of one side of the fish. Serve immediately.

Recipe 5: Herbed Roast Pork. As an alternative to store-bought ham, roast pork is a staple in any Filipino Noche Buena. The dish is sweet, salty and spicy and can be shredded and fried the next day for a truly hearty Christmas breakfast.


2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped marjoram
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup brown sugar or to taste
1/4 cup garlic liquid seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 kilogram whole kasim or pigue (pork cuts)


1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine rosemary, basil, marjoram, thyme, balsamic vinegar, red wine, brown sugar, liquid seasoning and olive oil. Mix well.
2. Rub and massage the pork with marinade.
3. Let stand at least overnight. Roll the pork into a ham-like shape and secure with kitchen strings to keep its form.
4. Bake for 80 minutes, basting occasionally with the marinade. Test if it is done by inserting a fork or skewer in the middle of the roast. Juices should be clear and not bloody. Report from Working Mom magazine. Photos from the Food Network.