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8 Trini Christmas Recipes to Try

A true Trini Christmas is simply not complete without the traditional, flavourful food & drink that are made with care, and enjoyed by so many over the holiday season. Until the time is right to #visitTrinidad, here are eight recipes to celebrate Christmas wherever you are, Trini-style!

Recipes & Videos Credit: Foodie Nation

SORREL

This staple is made from Hibiscus sabdariffa, a shrub in which the calyx is boiled down with seasonings and sugar to create this sweet, signature Christmas drink. If you don’t have access to fresh sorrel, dried sorrel may be found at your local West Indian grocery.

INGREDIENTS

  • White Oak Rum – 1/2 Cup
  • Sorrel – 1 1/2 lbs
  • Water – 12 cups
  • Brown Sugar – 2 cups
  • White Sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Cinnamon – 2 sticks
  • Cloves – 10
  • Ginger – 2 tbsp

METHOD

  1. Wash and clean sorrel.
  2. Add sorrel, water, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to pot.
  3. Let boil for 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Strain and sweeten with sugar.
  6. Add White Oak Rum, mix and Enjoy!

PASTELLES

A seasonal dish made with meat and/or vegetarian filled cornmeal, wrapped in a banana leaf. Pastelles are reflective of our unique Amerindian heritage in Trinidad and Tobago.

INGREDIENTS Yield: 1 Dozen Pastelles

Yield: 1 Dozen Pastelles

  • 3/4 Lb Minced Meat
  • 1 Small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Green Seasoning
  • 1/2 Hot Pepper (finely chopped)
  • 2 Pimento Peppers (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Fine Thyme
  • 2 Scallions Finely Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Small Capers (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Olives (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Rasins
  • 2 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 2 Cups Corn Flour
  • 2 1/2 cups Warm Water
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 12 Pieces Fresh Banana Leaves (heat leaves to make them pliable)
  • Aluminum Foil

METHOD

1. Season meat with the first set of ingredients, mix well.

2. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

3. To a pot on medium heat, add oil.

4. Add meat and cook until brown.

5. Add second set of ingredients and cook for an additional 2 mins.

6. Adjust salt to taste, set aside to cool.

7. To make the dough add all ingredients to a bowl to form a soft dough.

8. Form dough into small dough balls 2” – 3”, keep covered with a damp tea towel.

9. On one leaf rub a thin layer of oil, open out one of the dough ball with your fingers to ¼” thickness.

10. Place 1 tbsp of filling in the middle.

11. Fold over, bringing edges together to close.

12. Wrap the pouches.

13. Steam in a colander covered over boiling water for 1 hour or boil for 30 mins.

HOPS BREAD

Soft and fluffy bread rolls, best served with freshly made ham, topped with chow chow!

INGREDIENTS Yield: 10 Hops

  • Flour – 4 cups (sifted)
  • Dried Yeast – 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Brown Sugar – 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Water – 10 to 12 oz (lukewarm)

METHOD

  1. Place flour in a bowl.
  2. Add yeast, sugar and salt (note: do not place yeast close to salt as it will kill the yeast if it makes contact)
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients.
  4. Make a well in the middle and add water.
  5. Knead for 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth.
  6. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hour.
  7. Uncover, punch air out of dough and form 10 balls.
  8. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover and let rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  9. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  10. Once preheated, place a pan no smaller than 9” by 6” halfway filled with hot water at the bottom of your oven (this will help to create the hard outer shell and soft fluffy inside Hops Bread is known for).
  11. Bake hops for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

HAM & TURKEY

INGREDIENTS

  • Ham – (8-12) lb
  • Cloves – (1-2) Packs
  • Brown Sugar – 1 cup
  • Honey Mustard – 1/4 cup
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 2 tbsp

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place ham into baking dish,
  3. Stick cloves into ham.
  4. Bake ham uncovered for 45 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, add sugar, mustard and apple cider and mix well.
  6. After 45 minutes, pour glaze over ham, cover with foil and return to oven to bake for an additional hour.

BRINE INGREDIENTS

  • Salt – 2 cups
  • Brown Sugar – 1 cup
  • Water – 7 liters
  • Garlic – 10 cloves
  • Rosemary – 4 sprigs
  • Oregano – 4 sprigs
  • Lemons – 2 (Quartered)

BRINE METHOD

  1. Dissolve salt and sugar in cold water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Add turkey breast side down.
  4. Let brine for up to 12 hours.

TURKEY INGREDIENTS

  • Turkey – (8-12) lb
  • Olive Oil – 1/2 Cup
  • Rosemary/Sage – 6 sprigs
  • Oregano/Thyme – 6 sprigs

TURKEY METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Remove from brine and pat dry.
  3. Fill turkey with stuffing.
  4. In a bowl mix oil and herbs.
  5. Massage herb mixture onto turkey.
  6. Bake turkey uncovered for 1 hour then covered for 2 hours.

CHOW CHOW

A tangy relish best served on freshly baked ham and a warm hops.

INGREDIENTS Yield – 3 (10 oz) Bottles

*FC – Finely Chopped

  • Carrots – 3 cups diced
  • Bodi – 2 cups diced
  • Sweet Peppers – 3 cups diced
  • Pimento – 6 (seeded & FC)
  • Garlic – 14 cloves FC
  • Onion – 1/2 cup FC
  • Granulated Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric – 2 tbsp
  • White Vinegar – 3 cups
  • Mustard – 2 1/2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Fresh Ginger – 1 1/2 tbsp (grated)
  • Cornstarch – 2 1/2 tbsp

METHOD

  1. Soak carrots, bodi, sweet pepper, pimento, garlic and onion in brine (2 tbsp of salt & enough water to cover) for 24 hours.
  2. Strain and set aside.
  3. Add sugar, turmeric, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, cornstarch and ginger to a medium size pot over medium heat and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Strain into another pot, add veggies and let cook over medium to low heat until it thickens (15-20 minutes).
  5. Immediately pour into bottles.
  6. Cover & let cool.

BLACK CAKE

A rum fruit cake made with soaked fruits, rich browning and of course, rum! With so many variations, this recipe can be altered to suit.

INGREDIENTS Yield: 1 (9 Inch) Cake

  • ¼ Cup Prunes, deseeded
  • ¼ Cup Cherries
  • ¼ Cup Raisins or Currants
  • ¼ Cup Mixed Peel
  • ¾ Cup Dark Rum
  • ½ Cup Cherry Brandy
  • 8 Oz Butter (Room Temperature)
  • 1 1/3 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Almond Essence
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 ¼ Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • ¾ Tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • ½ Tsp Elychee Powder (Cardamom)
  • Zest of an Orange
  • 1/3 Cup Browning
  • ¼ Cup Chopped Almonds

To Soak Cake:

  • ½ Cup Dark Rum
  • ¼ Cup Cherry Brandy

METHOD

  1. In a deep medium bowl, add in the prunes, cherries, raisins, mixed peel and pour in the dark rum and cherry brandy. Mix well and allow fruit to soak in alcohol for a minimum of three days straight up to many months. (If soaking for numerous months, be sure to top up with more alcohol as fruits will absorb it as time goes by). Cover bowl and place to soak for your selected period of time.
  2. Place fruits and its liquor into a food processor and process until semi coarse in texture, somewhat similar to a liquid paste consistency. Set aside.
  3. Place either the beater or paddle attachment onto your stand mixer and in the mixing bowl; add in the softened butter, and sugar. On high speed, cream ingredients until light, fluffy and batter has increased in volume. (About five minutes)
  4. On medium speed, add in the eggs one at a time just until they are all incorporated evenly into batter.
  5. Switch machine off and using a rubber spatula, clean the sides of the bowl to allow all ingredients to thoroughly combine.
  6. Into a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients such as the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and elychee in. Set aside.
  7. Place mixer back on to low speed and add in almond and vanilla essences as well as the addition of the sifted flour in two or three portions simultaneously as the machine runs.
  8. Turn machine off and add in the orange zest, processed fruits and the browning. Place machine back onto low speed and allow ingredients to mix well ensuring to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do not mix batter too much, just until fruits are evenly combined then turn off mixer.
  9. Preheat oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by greasing with some softened butter then dusting lightly with flour. Cut a circular piece of grease proof paper that fits the circumference of pan’s base and carefully lay inside. Pour fruit cake batter into the pan, then tap gently against the counter to settle the batter evenly.
  11. Place cake pan into the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer, inserted in the cake, comes out clean. If still gooey, return cake back into oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes and monitor so it doesn’t burn.
  12. Meanwhile, in a small bowl; mix the ingredients to soak the cake.
  13. When cake is done, let sit for 10 minutes to cool. Using a skewer, pierce the surface area of cake to create minute holes. Drizzle or brush the alcohol mixture all over the cake to allow the alcohol to soak in.
  14. Allow cake to rest until completely cool, then slice and enjoy.

15. You can also continue to soak the cake a few more times over the course of the next few days to allow it absorb more alcohol and truly become stronger in flavour before slicing. This I recommend fully. Be sure to keep cake tightly covered in the pan as to prevent it from drying up.

PONCHE DE CREME

A popular Christmas drink similar to eggnog.

INGREDIENTS

  • White Oak Rum – 1 Cup
  • Eggs – 4 Large
  • Condensed Milk – 1 (390g)
  • Evaporated Milk – 1 (250ml)
  • Bitters – 1 Dash
  • Nutmeg – 1 Tsp
  • Lemon Zest – 1 Tsp

METHOD

  1. Pasteurize eggs over a double boiler. (140°F for 3 minutes)
  2. Blend eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, nutmeg, bitters and lemon zest.
  3. Add White Oak Rum, blend and Enjoy!

GARLIC PORK

INGREDIENTS Yield (12-15 Servings)

  • Pork Shoulder – 3 lb (3/4 inch cubes)
  • Garlic – 20 cloves
  • Chadon Beni – 40 leaves
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper – 2
  • Fine Thyme – 1/2 cup
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 1/2 cups
  • Salt – 1 tbsp
  • Oil – 1/3 cup

METHOD

  1. Wash cubed pork in 1/4 cup of white vinegar and water. Set aside and allow to drain.
  2. Peel garlic, chadon beni and thyme.
  3. Blend garlic, chadon beni, thyme and pepper in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and add salt and remaining apple cider vinegar.
  5. Pour a few spoonfuls of the apple cider mixture into a container. Enough to cover the entire surface of the container.
  6. Add a layer of pork.
  7. Repeat the process until all the pork is in the container.
  8. Make sure pork is fully submerged.
  9. Cover and let sit for 4 days.
  10. Drain and squeeze out all the excess moisture.
  11. Add 1/3 cup of oil to a medium size pot over high heat.
  12. Once oil is heated add pork and cook until golden brown.