Noche Buena preparations usually starts around the first week of December, in my house, but for one reason or another (and probably because I scaled down entertaining way down this year!), I really didn’t do a lot of prep at all this year. The menu was a mix of new and traditional: I didn’t go extremely overboard with the nosh part of the evening, deciding to present a few different cheeses (cow, sheep and goat), some grapes, nuts, and a couple of dips (artichoke/parmesan and guacamole).
I served it with plenty of cold, creamy, coquito to wash it all down and we had a great beginning to our Noche Buena celebration.
I decided the rest of the menu, with the exception of the soup first course, would be served buffet style. I broke down the ducks for the Pato con Peras early in the day, saving the trimmings and the bones (along with some aromatics) to make stock, which in turn serve as the foundation for the sauce.
The kids all joined in to help in the preparations, in and out of the kitchen, and being that we weren’t expecting a crowd of 50 (the usual!), stress was relatively low.
By 6PM, I had everything well in hand. I put the finishing touches on my lobster bisque (I shelled the lobsters and made the stock the night before),assembled the guacamole, and double checked the decorations.
After about an hour of coquito toasts and little bites of artichoke/parmesan dip, nuts and cheese, we were ready for the main event. The buffet table looked very inviting, and my guests were eager to sample its wares. It featured a lovely Christmas salad of green lettuce, endive, fennel, English cucumber, feta cheese and pomegrante seed, dressed in a citrus/ginger scented olive oil with champagne vinegar vinagrette.
The pernil was done perfectly. I took it out of the oven when the center read 150 degrees F, and I set it to rest for about 30 minutes. The skin was roasted to a lovely mahogany lacquer and the meat was garlicky and moist….paradise on a plate!
The pernil was accompanied by arroz con gandules,
and Pato con Peras (a Catalan Christmas must).
After much oohing and ahhing, second and third helpings, we retired back to the living room to open gifts and catch our breaths before dessert: cherry cheese cake, cookies, canolis, and Recchiuti chocolates. Everyone mutually agreed that Noche Buena 2006 was very much a solid success!!