Tis the season to be merry—and binge-eat. With Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve both falling on a Saturday, one would feel compelled to chow down to make up for the short holidays.
It’s a real challenge if you’re tasked to do all the prepping. Not every dish is easy to make; some can take hours of preparation while others require ingredients that can put a serious dent in your wallet.
But with a few food hacks, you can make your life easier. Here we’ve compiled tips on how you can spend less time worrying about noche buena/media noche and have more time just being awesome.
Mess-free crispy pata
There is no right or wrong time to cook crispy pata. This sinful, meaty, fatty, crispy, and just plain amazing dish is perfect for the holidays especially when all the titos come together for their annual Pale Pilsen-fueled convention.
However, it’s hard to prepare because of its size, especially if you got a bigger front leg.
To those who want the same goodness of crispy pata minus the weight and the bulkiness, try the boneless version for size.
Go to your favorite butcher and ask him to debone the front leg and have the deboned part rolled and fixed by butcher’s string. Once the meat has been secured to a roll, you can just cook it the same way you cook your crispy pata.
Since having the meat separated from the bone allows you to season the inner portion, you can stuff paprika, chopped garlic, salt, and black pepper inside the meat before having it tied. Smaller in size, yet packs all the same meaty, crispy goodness.
Better than store-bought glaze
They say the ham is the star of the noche buena, and it’s unfortunate that most grocery-bought hams include only a small sachet of its scrumptious glaze.
So to make your holidays extra sweeter, why not go the DIY route with your sauce?
To create your homemade glaze, you will need the following ingredients: pineapple juice, brown sugar, water, and some cinnamon powder.
In a small pot, combine the ingredients and base the measurements on the dominant flavor you want to achieve (for instance, if you want the glaze to be fruitier, add more pineapple juice to the mix).
Over low fire, keep on stirring until the sauce begins to thicken and the color becomes slightly golden brown. Indulge.
Nothing gets left behind
After the festivities, you’ll have to deal with the leftovers. And since throwing food away is a mortal sin, how about you transform them into something more exciting? You can let go of the bouillon cubes now.
Have kilos of leftover lechon? Why not go the extra mile and instead of turning it to lechong paksiw, turn it to sinigang with lots of vegetables? Or if you want a handy snack, maybe toss it with bread and some liver sauce and whip up a pulled lechon sandwich.
Meanwhile, you can use excess spaghetti sauce to create some vegetable lasagna or as a base for homemade sloppy joe. Experiment with your ingredients and learn how to mix and match.
Stock up on stock
When you’re done munching on your roasted chicken (or whatever big chunk of meat you have), you’ll be more than tempted to throw the bones away to clean up everything. Long story short: Don’t.
Did you know that you can use the bones along with other ingredients like onions, salt, pepper, and celery to make a basic stock?
Since the stock is one of the basic foundations of most dishes, it’s good to know how to make a good one. Fortunately, you can make a stock from scratch by bringing to boil the bones, some meat, select vegetables, and some spices until the flavors are out of your ingredients.
You can use it immediately for some dishes or freeze it until the day you require it to supercharge your dishes. Who knows, the bones left behind during your Christmas feast can make stock for your tasty macaroni soup on New Year?