5 Perfect Recipes for a Caribbean Christmas
Five chefs show us how to throw a festive, island-inspired feast.
Celebrating Christmas is a totally unique and personal experience. Each and every person — no matter where they come from — has traditions and culinary dishes that are special just to them and their family. This means that no two Christmases are alike, which is a truly beautiful thing. For their latest issue, Food Network Magazine asked five Caribbean chefs to share how they pay homeage to their island heritage while celebrating the holidays. From rum-soaked Black Cake to a Trinidadian-take on Christmas tamales, here's how to add a touch of the Caribbean to your table this year. No passport or frequent fiyer miles required!
Crab-Stuffed Brown Fish Stew (pictured above)
This baked whole snapper is inspired by traditional Creole stew flavors, says former Chopped contestant, Shorne Benjamin, who features the dish on the Christmas menu at his New York City–based catering company. "It’s a great way to add something meat-free to your holiday plate," he says.
This rice dish gets its color from black mushrooms that are native to Haiti. They’re hard to find stateside, says Food Network Kitchen app host, Nahika Hillery so she also calls for djon-djon bouillon cubes, which have a similar flavor. “This rice is a perfect side to seafood and pairs well with any fish,” she says.
One of Roger’s Mooking's most beloved family traditions is making this Trinidadian take on tamales for the holidays. The banana leaves help the filling stay moist, like corn husks would, says the chef and host of Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food. "My family and I would spend half the day on pastelles duty!” he says. "They’re a true labor of love."
A Caribbean Christmas meal isn’t complete without a rum cake, says Brittney "Chef Stikxz" Williams, who teaches classes on the Food Network Kitchen app. In traditional recipes, the fruits are soaked in the liquor for months, but in this version, she soaks them for just two days. "It doesn’t sacrifice any of the flavor," she says.
Make sure you whip up enough of this coconut-based drink to share it with friends and family. "In Puerto Rico we always make large batches to bottle up and give out," says Yia Medina, a host on the Food Network Kitchen app. "It’s my favorite Christmas tradition."
Introduction paragraph written by Michelle Baricevic for FoodNetwork.com.
All recipe text written by Nora Horvath for Food Network Magazine.
All photographs by Mike Garten.