The best part about the holidays is being with family, but food has an amazing way of keeping us connected even when we can’t all be together. My parents are both Cuban but as our family has grown, so have influences from around the world. On Noche Buena, we have delightful tastes of Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, France, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the US, which we enjoy before going to midnight mass.
Noche Buena staples include lechon, honey baked ham, yuca, moros, coquito, and loads of desserts including my guava pie, snowball cookies, turrones and Nick’s aunt’s delectable tres leches. We normally do a potluck style dinner so everyone brings their signature dish, but since this year is a bit different we will likely order a few sides (moros and yuca) from a neighborhood restaurant. I can’t think of a better time to support local restaurants, and if my tía isn’t the one making the moros, my version would certainly disappoint, so I’d prefer to leave it to the pros.
On December 25th, we get together again for a late lunch and the previous night’s lechon is transformed into pan con lechon—soft, fluffy Cuban bread, mayo, and shredded lechon with onions and lots of lime is my favorite. If we have leftover ham, we grind it and use it to make croquetas a few days later.
Here is my always-in-demand coquito recipe. Enjoy!
375ml Bacardi Gold rum (roughly ½ a bottle)
2 cans coco Lopez
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
Blend all ingredients in blender and chill until ready to serve in cortadito cups (3 ounce pour). Shake before serving as cinnamon tends to settle at the bottom.
And share with your neighbors!