Christmas Eve Dinner in a Mexican Home
If you have decided to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Mexico, it is important that you know what to expect if you are going to be a guest at a home of a Mexican family.
Normally, Mexicans spend this holiday exclusively with family, but you know what they say, “the more people the better” so sometimes other relatives and friends, who otherwise would spend these days alone, are invited. In Mexico, it is just unforgivable to exclude anyone from the festivities.
Most average families in Mexico will have a mix of dishes with Spanish or American influence, as well as very traditional Mexican dishes; it all depends on which area of the country you are in, , but regardless of where in Mexico, let me assure you it would be a feast you will never forget.
This is a list with a small description of the most common dishes that you will find at a dinner table on Christmas Eve in Mexico. Everything is delicious, even if you are familiar with the ingredients or not, try to enjoy them because I can assure you this will be an unforgettable experience - good food and Mexican family are always an excellent combination.
Pozole y tostadas
Generally made with pork, Pozole is a stew with large grains of hominy, lettuce and radishes, topped with a combination of a few red chili sauce and drops of lime. It might seem like a soup with salad included- more or less, just the broth is rich and full of flavor. Many people say that a pozole without an horchata agua fresca does not taste the same; try it and make your own conclusion.
Roasted pork leg or loin
It is topped with a sauce made of plum and pineapple puree, wine, and pepper. This dish is an absolute delight, and for the next day's claim, it is the star!
Made of corn flour and lard, Tamales can be sweet or savory. The savory ones are filled with traditional stews, such as chicken or pork in red or green sauce, rajas which are sliced poblano peppers, chicharrones or pork rinds in green salsa, cheese, or corn. On the sweet side, there are strawberry, pineapple, or sweet corn; with a spoonful of hot red pepper sauce, you will find that Mexicans love a bitter sweetness on a lot of dishes. Different parts of the country have different shapes and sizes; they are generally wrapped in corn leaves, but in the south of Mexico, they are wrapped mostly with banana leaves.
It would bean atrocity to imagine not having a Tamale without a cup of hot Atole, one of the most comforting hot beverages in Mexico - besides hot chocolate. Atole, also known as Atolli and Atol de Elote, is a traditional hot corn- and masa-based beverage; the popular flavors are guayaba, nuez, fresa and canela(cinnamon).
In the Northern States, such as Nuevo Leon, people usually have Carne Asada for this holiday, which consists of generous thick cuts of beef accompanied by well-seasoned sausages. Most men are generally BBQ experts and are in charge ofthe cooking, always accompanied by a cold beer. The grill becomes a meeting point, all cooks around the fire.
Birria de Chivo
In states like Zacatecas, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí, having Birria on Christmas Eve is a tradition. Birria is a very traditional dish in Mexico, it is a stew made of goat, and sometimes beef or mutton in a sauce made of tomato and a few different red chilies. Always served with fresh handmade tortillas, topped with some diced onion and a few drops of lime, it is one of the best dishes in Mexican cuisine.
Bacalao ala Vizcaina
Now let us talk about one of my favorite dishes of all time -Bacalao a la Vizcaina or Viscayan cod. This dish is a fusion of Spanish cuisine with Mexican ingredients and is prepared using dried cod, tomatoes, "güeros" chili peppers, potatoes, almonds, raisins, and capers. Each family claims they have their own secret recipe for preparing this dish, and it really is difficult to get the complete recipe from anyone; this is how competitive we feel about having the best Bacalao for Christmas.
Another one of my favorite dishes, which has deep roots in Mexican cuisine, is undoubtedly our Romeritos en Mole. This is a complex dish because it has a good amount of ingredients, and I will do my best to explain it, ready?
Let us start with the first and most complex ingredient of this dish; Mole is a select mixture of various types of dried chili peppers and around 20 more ingredients that, when ground into a paste, is reduced with chicken or pork broth and (pilgrims or rosemary) are cleaned and added to the mole. Finally, the shrimp pancakes are made with ground dried shrimp, which is mixed with an egg on nougat point to be fried later. Mole with Romeritos and Shrimp Pancakes is a 100% Mexican dish that you will only find during the Christmas season.
The turkey is an animal originally from Mexico; the Mexicas called it guajolote, which could be translated as "water clown" or "jungle clown." The Spanish took it to Europe during the Colonial era, and later Henry VII was the first Monarch in England to have turkey for Christmas. Edward VII made it even more popular. The tradition reached North America with the settlers, presenting the turkey as apart of the Thanksgiving dinner. In Mexico, turkey is the most common choice at Christmas. We prepare it with fruit juices, wine and dry fruits, to give it a sweeter flavor rather than herbal.
This sweet apple salad is usually prepared with two types of apples, predominantly green apples due to their acidity and red sweet apples, as well as raisins, walnuts, pineapple, and grapes. Delicious!
Our traditional Mexican punch is a hot classic Christmas beverage that is made with hibiscus or tamarind, raw sugar canes cut in two-inch pieces, hawthorn, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, diced quince, and sugar. It is an amazing option for a cold night, full of flavor and aroma, but if you want to make it an adult beverage add one oz of tequila or mezcal. Enjoy!
When it comes to desserts, you are going to find a wide variety since we love sweets! There is the classic fruitcake, and of course the much-loved churros and buñuelos (both are a type of sugary wheat flour dough, which is fried in hot oil in the shape of a churro or rounded as a tortilla, which are the fritters), and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. The fritters are accompanied with a sweet syrup - a holiday specialty for sure.
You can tell by now that you will find yourself with a lot of choices. I recommend giving it a try and having a little of everything - you will not regret it. Everything you will see at dinner was made with love, from the table setting and decorations to the food and drinks. Your hosts will welcome you as soon as you arrive with a “Welcome, come in, this is your home, too.” making you feel part of the family instantly.