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Dec 14, 2007 06:28 AM

We doing a Cuban Christmas dinner - any suggestions?

Hi all. This is my first post! Love Chowhound and hope some of you can help me with our Cuban Christmas menu. Our guests are real foodies - as are we - so we really want to make this a special dinner. Right now, we are planning on serving Pernil (marinated roast pork shoulder), Cuban tamales made w/Yucca and piccadillo, a fresh tomato and avocado salad.

Can anyone suggest a fabulous first course, side dish, dessert item? Please don't say flan for dessert - my DH hates anything that tastes "eggy".

Thanks in advance - and happy holidays to everyone!


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  1. you need some rice - moros y christianos (white rice cooked together or stir fried up with black beans/onions/garlic/peppers) to go with your pernil and yuca. Fried sweet plantains (or if you prefer, tostones made with the green plantains) is a classic accompaniment, as well as yuca in garlic sauce, but you are already serving yuca, so Id omit that. Since your tamales have meat, maybe serve them, with your salad, as your first course?? If you dont do the plantains, you could consider a grilled or baked sweet banana/[plaintain dish, or even bananas foster, for dessert.

    1. Something with bananas or plaintains. And banana daqueris!

      1. rum cake for dessert, or a pineapple cake. those are the popular cakes from a cuban resto i just visited....

        1. I would add beef and or seafood.
          Roja Vieja and Camarones al Ajillo both would be so well recieved. I prefer a festive and flavorful yellow rice. And the black beans could be made into a hummus dip,or soup. The other must would be to have pastelitos both savory and sweet...which would help with your dessert request..

          6 Replies
          1. re: chef chicklet

            If you decide to make ropa vieja let me know. I have a recipe from a co-worker's cuban mother that is delicious and authentic....and very easy. I'm sure it doesn't vary much from any other recipe on the internet, but it's nice to know you are using a recipe that was actually used in cuba for many, many years and passed down the generations.

            1. re: kmills9408

              kmills, I think you were responding to the op, but even so, I would love your traditional recipe. I have made this dish (which is delicious as well) but not sure it is authentic.
              It is a wonderful party dish, and I have served it at my own International Christmas Party that I give every year. (I love the yellow rice-merely a personal preference!)

              1. re: kmills9408

                I don't think I'll be making ropa vieja for Christmas dinner but would love your recipe. My mom used to make it - and it was fabulous but she didn't write down the recipe.

                1. re: scudgal

                  I'll be happy to get it for you today a little later..hand written recipe that I got from a friend years ago, and also I have my changes.

                  1. re: scudgal

                    Sorry it took so long....but here's the recipe:

                    Put 1 to 2 pound fland steak in a large pot with lots of water.
                    add half an onion, half a green pepper, one tablespoon of salt, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, two dried bay leaves, and a dash of cumin.
                    boil until flank steak is very tender (2-3 hours).

                    Remove meat from water, let cool and shred with a fork.

                    in a large sauce pan, heat olive oil. add crushed garlic cloves (2-3 depending on taste, could be more) and sautee about one minute.
                    then add one medium green pepper-diced, one medium red bell pepper-diced, one large onion-diced and sautee another minute.
                    stir in a few cups of tomato sauce and white wine, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. simmer for a few minutes.
                    add shredded meat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until meat absorbs most of the liquid.
                    serve with rice...I like yellow.

                    hope you enjoy this, I always do!

                    1. re: scudgal

                      sorry thought you were talking to me! With my changes I don't know that it would of been considered "authentic".. but its still good!

                2. First course: a bright and citrusy ceviche or perhaps empanadas
                  Side: Of course moros y christianos is perfect but I prefer green cilantro rice and red beans for a more Christmasy look. Plus I love cilantro rice with pernil.
                  Dessert: I would've said tocino del cielo, but perhaps something based on turron? I'm thinking a Baked Alaska sort of trifle flecked with crushed turron instead of the usual strawberries. Or perhaps tres leches?