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A Christmas Feast in Spain

Christmas in SpainIn Spain the celebratory Christmas dinner, is held on Christmas Eve which is called Noche Buena or “The Good Night”. On the evening of December 24, most families will hear Mass in the evening or at midnight. Whichever service they attend, they will make sure there is time for a sumptuous Christmas feast.

In About.com’s  Spanish Christmas Menu – Menú de Noche Buena, Lisa and Tony Sierra write, “In Spain it is celebrated with a large family feast, which is eaten late in the evening and can last a couple hours. Some families attend midnight mass before or after, although many families are still finishing dinner around the table at midnight! In Spain, Christmas Eve is a time for celebrating in neighborhood bars and cafes, and around the table with family and friends.” With this introduction, they introduce a delicious Spanish feast that includes everything from tapas (appetizers) to soup, main dishes, dessert, and Cava, Spanish sparkling wine.

Tapas to Start the Feast

For starters, a Christmas meal among Spanish families will include appetizers or tapas. Among the most popular tapas are ham, Spanish chorizo, and cheese which can all be served with red wines such as La Rioja. Apart from these, a selection of seafood appetizers is quite common. The Sierras specifically mention Langostinos con Salsa Rosa (large prawns with pink sauce) when they talk about tidbits to start a meal.

Langostinos con Salsa Rosa is a fairly simple dish to prepare. According to the Sierras, “The langostinos or prawns are boiled, then served with a slightly spicy salsa rosa or pink sauce, made with mayonnaise, catsup and Tabasco. If you prefer a sauce without mayonnaise, try Spanish Romesco sauce, made with roasted red peppers, garlic, oil and vinegar. Either sauce goes well with shrimp or any seafood.”

The First Course (Primer Plato)

The Sierras present five options for a first course: Fish and Shellfish Soup, Creamy Spanish Prawn Soup, White Asparagus, Endive Salad with Vinaigrette, and Seafood Pasta Salad with roasted red peppers and almonds.

Their Fish and Shellfish Soup is a feast in itself with a dozen clams, a pound of shrimp, and fish head for flavor. To this mix, you add a carrot, a tomato, and an onion. Four cups of water, a cup of white wine, and a cup of rice provide the broth and the carbohydrates for this dish.

The Main Dish (Plato Principal)

The Spanish Christmas feast can include a wide variety of dishes as the main course. Roast lamb with fried potatoes and a mixed green salad will make an appearance after the soup, but other types of meat are just as frequently shared.

Cochinillo Asado or roast Suckling pig is a holiday dish that restaurants make available throughout the year, and many families like to have this treat when they gather for their Noche Buena. Escabeche de Pollo de Navidad (Marinated Christmas Chicken) consists of egg coated chicken fried and s with a sauce made from almonds, saffron, and garlic.

Dessert (Postre)

Almond cookies (polvorones), Spanish almond in nougat (turron), and crumble cake (mantecados) are typical Spanish desserts that are served throughout the year, but they are particularly abundant at Christmas.

In Polvorones – Recipe, Lisa and Tony Sierra share a recipe for crumbly and light almond cookies that provide the right ending to a rich meal. Describing the cookies, the Sierras say, “Rich, crumbly “polvorones” or “Dusty” Almond Cookies are a delicious cookie, especially popular in Spain during the Christmas season…”  An interesting tip they let their public know: to achieve that rich taste both the almonds and the flour have to be roasted before the whole cookie mixture is mixed together.

Spanish Cava, Brandy and More

The Sierras say, “No Spanish Christmas would be complete without several toasts and a few glasses of cava, Spanish sparkling wine. Spanish cava is generally good quality and priced right. After the dinner dishes are cleared, a hot cup of espresso coffee and/or a small glass of Spanish sherry brandy like Cardenal Mendoza or Lepanto brands, anise liqueur or Licor 43 can be raised. Besides, you need something to wash all those cookies down!”

A Spanish feast for Christmas is a truly good option, especially if you are expecting many visitors and you want to say good bye to hohumm. The next time you try to put together a delicious dinner for Christmas, explore the foods mentioned by the Sierras and your guests will be sighing with satisfaction.

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