2015 has been the “Dual Year” between Mexico and the United Kingdom in which both countries have expanded their social and cultural knowledge as well as business opportunities.
As the year winds down, that wintry chill settles in the air and people on both sides of the Atlantic are left to ponder the connections they’ve made over the last several months, why not celebrate the holidays with traditional recipes from Britain and Mexico?
It might surprise many Britons to learn that the central dish eaten by most Mexican families on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) is, in fact, roasted turkey! After all, this holiday favorite is indigenous to the Americas.
Instead of their annual mashed potatoes, gravy and green veggies, however, this particular turkey comes surrounded by romeritos in mole sauce, pozole soup with hominy and chicken, salted cod and tamales. It’s a symphony of color, flavor and cultural richness that reaches back hundreds of years.
So what’s on the menu for an internationally blended Christmas dinner? Cozumelian chef Hugo Alatorre and British home cooks Norman and Marie have collaborated to put together a tasty and festive meal that combines the best in Mexican and British modern traditions, and it centers around that iconic roasted turkey.
Our Christmas menu
- Mulled Wine
- Roasted Turkey
- Romeritos in Mole Sauce
- Ensalada de Nochebuena
- Broccoli with Pine Nuts
- Roast Potatoes
When it comes to preparing a whole turkey, chances are good that you’ve experimented a fair few times with oven roasting, deep-frying and even barbecuing. So let’s assume you’ve got the bird under control, and let our experts share their recipes for the rest of the meal.
Mulled wine is a festive favorite in the United Kingdom, especially since temperatures are low at this time of year. Not only does the wine naturally create a glow in your cheeks, but the spices and warmth of this stove-top drink will truly chase away the winter’s chill. For a simple mulled wine recipe we look to celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver.
Jamie’s Mulled Wine
- 2 clementines
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 200 grams of caster sugar
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 vanilla pod, halved
- 2 star anise
- 2 bottles of Chianti or other Italian red wine
Peel sections from the skin of the clementines, lemon and lime, and put them in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, squeeze in the juice from the clementines and add all the spices except star anise. Pour in just enough wine to cover the sugar. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and boil until the wine has thickened into a syrup. Finally add the star anise and the rest of the wine, turn the heat down low and in about five minutes your drinks are ready. Ladle into glasses and enjoy!
Hugo’s Mexican Dishes
Hugo Alatorre is the head chef and owner of HUVE, a catering service in Cozumel, Quintana Roo. He and his partner Veronica Mendoza create enticing, healthy meals that put an international spin on modern Mexican cuisine.
When it comes to the holidays, Hugo says there are all kinds of regional Mexican dishes to choose from, some he’s never even tried before — including armadillo and venison.
“Most people prefer the turkey,” he says laughingly, though he admits he would love to try some traditional Yucatecan armadillo.
Here are Hugo’s recipes for two classic Mexican Christmas dishes to be served alongside the turkey:
Romeritos in Mole Sauce
- 1 kg tender romeritos
- 250 grams mole paste
- 1 white potato
- 2 nopale paddles, chopped
- 250 grams dried shrimp, peeled
- ¼ white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Olive oil
Peel, chop and simmer the potato in salted water about 20 minutes until soft, then remove from the water and place in a large bowl. In another pot, simmer the romeritos (a southern Mexican plant that looks like rosemary and tastes like spinach) with the onion, garlic and salt for 20 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the water and add to the potatoes. Next, boil the nopales for about five minutes, then drain and add to the rest of the vegetables.
Mix the mole paste with the chicken stock and heat. Add the vegetables and shrimp to the hot pan and mix well, seasoning to taste. When the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat down and simmer five minutes, stirring constantly.
Put the finished dish in a deep plate to serve with white rice or tostadas.
Ensalada de Nochebuena
- 4 oranges, peeled and chopped
- 1 large red grapefruit, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups jícama, peeled and chopped
- 6 radishes, slivered
- 1 apple, chopped
- 2 prickly pears, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsps grated lime rind
- 3 tbs fresh lime juice
- ½ cup plain yoghurt
- 1 ½ tbs honey
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
Reserve the juices from the fruits as you chop them and set aside. Cover the oranges, grapefruit, jícama, radishes, apple and prickly pears and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the lime rind, lime juice, yoghurt, honey and reserved fruit juices until totally smooth.
To serve, line a large bowl with the romaine lettuce and fill with the fruits, pomegranate seeds and pecans. Drizzle the yoghurt dressing evenly over the entire salad.
Norman’s British Dish
Next up is the British side of Christmas dinner! Home cook Norman Smee lives in London and has become something of a dinner party guru among his friends and family.
Though he doesn’t always go in for traditional dishes during the holidays, he knows the value of presenting a classic with a twist, and many of his recipes are featured on the blog Cut Out and Keep. Here’s his amped-up veggie side dish:
Broccoli with Pine Nuts
- 200 g fresh broccoli
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- Parmesan, to serve
In a frying pan, gently toast the pine nuts for a few seconds to bring out the flavor. Put aside. Next, steam the broccoli (broccolini is ideal if you can find it) over boiling water for three to four minutes, until it is bright green. Once cooked, plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Fry for about 20 seconds before adding the cooled broccoli, and fry for a further one to two minutes until the greens are heated through.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan cheese before topping with lemon juice to serve.
Marie’s British Dish
Marie hosts her own culinary blog, The English Kitchen, where she dedicates her webspace to helping home cooks create classic English and U.K. favorites.
Adamant that anyone can cook her recipes, Marie focuses on simple ingredients, simple methods and great flavors. Here’s her recipe for a British holiday necessity:
Classic Roast Potatoes
- 6 to 9 Russet potatoes
- sea salt
- 2 cups melted goose fat
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour
Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut into quarters. Put the chunks into a large pot and cover with cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for five to six minutes.
Drain in a colander and let sit for about three minutes; then shake the colander to break up the edges of the potatoes. This will make them crispy after roasting.
In a large frying pan, heat up a layer of goose fat that is ¼-inch deep. You can use another type of fat, but oil won’t have the same effect. While the fat is heating, season the flour with salt and pepper, and roll the potatoes in the mixture. Fry them in the fat until they turn golden-brown.
Fill a roasting tray with another ¼-inch of goose fat, and add the potatoes. Make sure they are coated thoroughly in fat before putting them in the pre-heated 200 Celsius oven and roasting for 45 minutes. Keep them in the oven slightly longer for crispier edges.
Let the vendors take care of dessert
Finish off the meal with some delicious buñuelos in caramel sauce from your local panadería and a steaming mug of ron ponche navideño from a street vendor, and your blended culinary experience is complete.
Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!
Mandy Gardner is a freelance writer who lives in Mexico.