Hosts and diners sharpen knives and polish glassware, ready to sink their teeth into everything that is put on the tables, plates, trays, glasses … There are so many customs and culinary traditions of Christmas like provinces, towns and landscapes. Old-time cookbooks and innovation go hand in hand, but, in general, the usual menus, those of the grandmother, win by a landslide (not in vain, they are the quintessential family festivals and we must honor centuries of tradition).
One of the must, One of the essentials is the roasted lamb and kid. Castilla y León is famous, but in Zaragoza, at the Albarracín Grill (with a good handful of awards), they make a ternasco from Aragón IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) famous throughout the region. For Juanjo Banqueri Fernández, head chef and owner, there are hardly any arcana in grilling: “There are very few secrets. Javier Millán, our butcher, is in charge of choosing the best specimens for us, and little else. A sweetie who We give you a massage with a little olive oil from Bajo Aragón, some garlic and some herbs. We like to let it marinate a bit before roasting it with that mince, “he says.
“Our star dish? The roasted shoulder. We also really like to use what we call belly, the lower part of the ribs and which resembles what would be the fish. It is a very grateful cut in juiciness, but it must be de-greased well so that it is not heavy. We bone and press it. It is one of our hits”.
From lamb to bream, passing through elvers … who can
At this time of year – and many others – the oven also accepts suckling pigs, chickens, poulards, roast beef… Depends on the tastes. Fish, shellfish and other things from the sea are another of the factions that push strongly in the kitchen end of the year. Enrique Valentí is the alma mater de Marea Alta, a monothematic restaurant –a must-see in the capital city of Barcelona–, which overlooks the sea from the heights, and which opened with three partners three years ago, with fish as the flag. In that time, his customers have consumed more than 20 tons of the grill.
“Every day we receive jewels from the sea and they are not always the same, but at this time The sea bream, the turbot, the viceroy, the bream, the elvers cannot be missing … Seafood, boxes (enter here espadrille and razor clams), red shrimp, clam, Norway lobster and barnacles. “A feast at its finest. At his home, on Christmas Eve, they serve thistle with almonds, partridges and red cabbage. On New Year’s Eve,” a cold seafood dinner , smoked and roast beef. And in the New Year, Castilian roasts (lamb, suckling pig). “Good plan.
If we talk about fish, we cannot – nor do we want to – silence the three Michelin stars Ángel León: “For me, Christmas tastes like fire, heat, lifelong cuisine, family and tradition, chestnuts …”. He had been with the bug for some time to disembark in Madrid from his hometown, Cádiz, and bring the iconic dishes of Aponiente in a more informal format, more “rogue but sublime”, he points out. The result is Glass Mar. His favorites for Christmas banquets are prawns from Sanlúcar, prawns from Huelva, estuary fish, oysters … “I am a great defender of local products, discarding and pieces that are cooked with love. they detract at all to other famous fish. ” So, Angel, why don’t you prepare us an affordable New Year’s Eve menu for any pocket? “Sardines roasted on olive pits, some good red mullet, mackerel in a carrot smoothie, a good tuna stewed with tomato”. Blessed blue fish, how it saves our lives and doesn’t ruin our economy.
Another starry, ahem, solo He has 12 Michelin, he is Martín Berasategui, that nice and folksy guy that Real Sociedad carries in his veins and who has recently presented Agrucapers pickles with a cola flavor. At home, she will prepare a turbot menu with a clam vinaigrette: “It brings me back to memories of when I started in the kitchen.” As he slipped through that luminous tunnel that leads to childhood, the Basque chef recalls his family Christmas meals: “The first breads I saw, which my grandmother made, those hakes and those farm chickens, which there always was. Then, fried milk or French toast; and with the fruit trees of the garden they made compotes Awesome Christmas “.
And why not paella? Or paper?
Enrique Valentí has just inaugurated Baroz (Bar + Arroz) next to Marea Alta, in Barcelona. “Informal, where the classic tapas is combined with some fun 80s dishes (like a white prawn tartare inspired by the mythical seafood cocktail) and a special section dedicated to rice … My favorite? head and leg [versión local de los callos] and chickpeas. “As this grain is timeless, there are preparations for every season, and Christmas is no exception. rice with crust, typical on New Year’s Day in Murcia. And, precisely, in a small town in this community, in Moratalla, lives and works Firo Vázquez, owner and chef of El Olivar, which he opened in 2000 to show the benefits of extra virgin olive oil and its cuisine.
Self-taught, his stoves are filled with rice from Calasparra, marcona almonds (one of the most expensive), trout from the Mundo river, vegetables and, for now, mushrooms, truffles, pumpkins … His love for research has led him to create edible paper in collaboration with the University of Murcia and the Faculty of Dentistry of the Complutense University of Madrid. “We are finalizing a letter to wise men so that, in addition to making wishes, you can feed their majesties. “At your table, sweet almond soup, stuffed poularde, roast lamb, as much seafood as possible, Moratalla marzipan (very typical, with permission from Toledo) and the alajú (ground bread mixed with honey).
And, let’s not kid ourselves: the parties, always, are watered
Wine runs through all agape from beginning to end, and to investigate in other lesser-known DOs, our glasses travel to Menorca, to the Binifadet wineries, whose first samples were uncorked back in 2004. Luis Angles took the reins of those inherited barrels from his father, Don Carlos Andamientos, and in 2014 he carried out a small revolution. In whites they use chardonnay, moscatell, malvasía and macabeu; in reds, merlot, syrah, cabernet and monastrell, and “We are currently recovering varieties from the 18th and 19th centuries like callet, giro, escursach or gorgollasa “. Luis recommends the white Binifadet for seafood and fish; the Tanca 12 (barrel-fermented white) for the turkey; and the 2 Tancas (red)” for a good meat on New Year’s Day. “.
Others (many) prefer to start (and finish) with cava or champagne. Like Meritxell Juvé, CEO J&C Prime Brands, of Juvé & Camps. Although cava is for any time of the year, during these festivities it rises to the podium of the festive drinks that accompanies the culinary traditions of Catalonia like a faithful dog: “Christmas day is served bowl, which is soup pebbles with pot meat [pasta en forma de caracola con carne de cocido] and chicken with plums and pine nuts; the day of San Esteban, December 26, very celebrated here, cannelloni. For dessert, nougat, polvorones, candied fruit and Gran Juvé & Camps “. The sweet that melts you, Roscón de Reyes, a ritual that almost puts an end to Christmas: “A joyful and nostalgic closing.”
Let’s not get sad or melancholic, that’s what Horno de San Onofre from Madrid is for. Founded in 1972 by Daniel Guerrero and his wife Emilia, it is one of those places where on Three Kings Day people crowd to get their rounded buns with a hole in the center, like a large edible ring and a rosary of other Christmas ambrosias. . “I don’t think there are secrets, a lot of work and selection of top quality raw materials. Our roscones are made with clean flours, natural orange and lemon zest, good butter, Luca de Tena orange blossom water, and there are no antioxidants or preservatives. “With the raw material already prepared in the workshop (the settled flours, the design of the crowns, citrus fruits, sugar …), the miracle takes 24 hours to be at its peak. Daniel also defends good sugary sweets and candied fruits that, in addition, they have renewed, “incorporating limes, lychees, rambutans …” From the menu they have broth, almond soup, sirloin Wellington and nougat, polvorones, marzipan and a good Rioja wine.
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