The Five Delicious Dishes for Your Noche Buena

Noche Buena has been one of the most significant celebrations globally, especially for Filipinos. Filipino families gather to celebrate Christ’s birth with their favorite dishes.

Noche Buena, which means “the Good Night” in Spanish, refers to Christmas Eve or the 24th of December celebrated every year.

It all started in the 16th century when the Spanish friars required churchgoers to practice fasting until Christmas morning. Since the natives feel hungry coming from the Christmas midnight mass (the first liturgy of Christmastide), they gather for a nocturnal feast before bed.

Here are five delicious dishes that you can add to your Noche Buena feast.

Christmas Ham

Traditionally known as Yule Ham, Christmas Ham’s history was adopted from other winter celebrations. It started when Germanic pagans considered Ham as part of their Yuletide celebrations, a ceremony honoring the mythical Wild Hunt along with praying for fertility, harvest and good weather. 

As Christianity spreads worldwide, Christmas trees, including Christmas Hams also influence us.

Today, Noche Buena wouldn’t be complete without Christmas Ham as the centerpiece. It is one of the classic dishes symbolizing festivity, thanksgiving, and warmth.

While you can serve the Christmas Ham straight to your table, you can also explore unique twists to feed your family and wow your holiday guests! Try Root Beer Glazed Ham, Ham and Cheese Frittata, Slow Cooker Ham, or Elevated Baked Ham.

Crispy Pata

Indulge the whole family with the mouthwatering deep-fried pork knuckles, Crispy Pata.

This culinary wonder was invented by Rodolfo Ongpauco, the son of the Barrio Fiesta owner in Caloocan back in the 1950s when he tried to deep fry discarded pork legs.

Since then, Filipino families have included this dish during Noche Buena, especially those who don’t have access to Lechon. This is beyond a great alternative! 

There’s no other key reason why Filipino families fell in love with Crispy Pata than its extraordinary taste – golden brown and nice crisp texture on the outside, tender meat on the inside, and the savory taste of combined seasoning (bay leaves, garlic, salt, and star anise). 

Pork Embutido

Embutido is another Christmas favorite with Spanish origins. While they refer to it as cured sausages, Filipino Embutido is not cured at all. It is a local version of meatloaf using ground pork with onion, bell pepper, carrots, hard-boiled egg, and raisins. Special recipes include longganisa, cheese or ham as well.

Embutido, also a classic Filipino comfort food, is wrapped in foil, and you can either fry or steam it before eating. 

To keep the table more appetizing, nutritious and bright, put some greens on Embutido as side dishes and place them between pure meat dishes such as Crispy Pata, Christmas Ham, or Lechon. 

Beef Caldereta

Noche Buena wouldn’t be the same without red meat on our plate, so cheers to this timeless Filipino stew, Beef Caldereta. 

Caldereta came from the Spanish word “caldera”, which means cauldron or a metal pot with a lid and handle used to cook in an open fire. It consists of chuck beef (with a nice amount of fat), beef brisket, ribs, shanks, carrots, bell peppers, and potatoes. If you have a robust palate for spice, you can also add chillies.

There’s no other way to make your Noche Buena even warmer than having this comforting food. 

Lumpiang Shanghai

Unarguably, Lumpiang Shanghai is everyone’s favorite party food from typical dining setups, weddings, fiestas, and of course, during Noche Buena. 

In fact, Lumpiang Shanghai was named the best Filipino Food according to TasteAtlas, the global map of local dishes and flavors.

Lumpiang Shanghai is a perfect appetizer to set in your Noche Buena main dishes with its crispy exterior and tasty filling. Hence, you can make this as your snack, too – a perfect pair with red wine, a cocktail, or even an ice-cold glass of soda.

Fresh Meat for Your Noche Buena

Hallowed not only by Christian tradition alone but also by life’s existence, Noche Buena is a meaningful meal and should be celebrated in any way with loved ones. 

To keep your meat dishes sumptuous, delectable and worth remembering, always consider fresh and high-quality meat from your trusted meat shop in the Philippines.

Do you have other Noche Buena recipes in mind? Feel free to share it in the comments section.