To honor the December 12th release of the newest of the holiday movies, Nothing Like the Holidays, we offer a collection of Puerto Rican-style recipes, some authentic enough to win approval from Mama Rodriguez.
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In Nothing Like the Holidays, Mauricio's wife (played by Debra Messing) tries to impress her mother-in-law by telling her that she made coquito for the office Christmas party. Coquito is an eggnog-like alcoholic beverage made with rum, eggs, coconut milk, and coconut cream. You could transform this plain eggnog into a more Latin version by using coconut milk in place of the regular milk and coconut cream in place of the whipping cream if you have a mother-in-law you need to impress.
Instead of the arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) that's featured in the movie, we offer the other immensely popular Puerto Rican dish: rice with chicken. This one features rice with chicken, onion, tomato, corn, and fresh mint.
5 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
Barbecue Pork Tenderloin
Another festive island dish is lechón asado, or barbecued pig, which is usually cooked for a party of 12 or 15. The pig is basted with sour orange juice and achiote coloring. Green plantains are peeled and roasted over hot stones, then served with the barbecued pig as a side dish. If it's just not practical for you to roast a whole pig this year, you might settle for barbecued pork tenderloin served with grilled plantains.
Mofongo Relleno de Pollo Guisado (Plantains and Pork Cracklings with Stewed Chicken)
Plaintains are used frequently in Puerto Rican cooking, and mofongo is mashed plantains with garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings that are shaped into individual balls or molded with a mortar and pestle into a bowl to hold meat or fish. The consistency of the stewed chicken is between simple roast chicken and asopao—the classic soupy Puerto-Rican stew.
Tres leches cake is extremely popular throughout Central and South America, though it probably originated in either Mexico or Nicaragua. It consists of a sponge or butter cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk or cream. Serve with whipped cream, melted chocolate, or dulce de leche.