As soon as Peter and I had a contract on a house, we immediately claimed Christmas Eve! If you are Hispanic this will also be known to you as ‘Noche Buena’. Peter had always wanted to do the traditional Cuban lechon in the Caja China, or asador as our box where we cook our pig is called. Since 2011, for the past 10 years, we have done just that! I’ll never forget being a bit horrified the first year waking up the morning of Christmas Eve to a dead pig marinating on our kitchen counter. The whole house smelled of mojo. Over the years I have come to call this scent ‘the smell of noche buena’ and needless to say I have grown fond of it since Noche Buena is possibly my favorite night of the year! Even as an adult I remember the magic of expecting Santa to come by the house that night and drop off toys. Needless to say having kids of my own has brought that magic into our home!
Peter had told me at one point that I should learn how to make the side dishes. I laughed at this suggestion. There was no way I was learning to make moros and yuca! Until one Christmas a few years back when we paid an arm and a leg for moros and yuca from La Carreta and they were awful! By that point I had learned my way around a kitchen a bit more so I decided that we would in fact have a home made Noche Buena. WHO AM I?
in 2011 when we moved into our house a co-worker I had at the time gifted me with a book called ‘Cuban Chicks Can Cook‘. While I have not used it as much as I would like, it is a little beat up at this point!
If you have any interest in learning to cook Cuban food I highly recommend this book! It’s in English and she adds a personal touch to it telling stories of her own family and upbringing! Visit this link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0595408508?ref=exp_influencer-79a04da4_dp_vv_d
The first couple of years I followed the recipe to the tee! As much as I love this book though, one of my gripes with many of the recipes is that she does them on the stove top rather than in a pressure cooker and many of them literally take hours. I beleive the first year I attempted this I spent two days slaving away in the kitchen doing the moros in batches. Last year I decided I HAD to figure out how to do them on the Instant Pot. I could probably do a whole post on why I love my instant pot (hmmm potential future blog post idea haha). If you don’t have one, you should get one! Once you learn how to use it you won’t remember what life was without it! If you are interested in purchasing one visit this link to buy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FLYWNYQ?ref=exp_influencer-79a04da4_dp_vv_d&th=1
After doing some research, I figured out how to do the moros on the instant pot! Not only was it faster, easier and less mess but they came out better than when done on the stove top. I posted to my Instagram stories about it last year and had a few people ask for the recipe. Although I promised myself last Christmas that I would cook these more often and even figure out how to do them with brown rice, life got in the way. So I decided to do a test run since Christmas is coming up and take this opportunity to share how I do it with everyone in case you want a homemade Noche Buena too! Also, if I’m being honest, I need this written down because I had to think about it today and try to remember what I did last year.
1/2lb Black Beans (1 1/4 cup)
1 Green Bell Pepper
3 Garlic Cloves minced
1 Bay Leaf
2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
4 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2lb of uncooked bacon chopped
1 lb of white rice (2 1/2 cups)
- Ideally you should soak the beans in 5 cups water overnight. Fortunately with the Instant Pot you don’t need to soak them overnight. I did forget this time though and to be honest, I think it affected the flavor a bit especially since you should use the water the beans were soaked in to pressure cook them. If they are soaked it also cuts down on actual cooking time.
- When you are ready to start cooking, put the beans in the Instant Pot with the water they were soaked in. Add a bay leaf and any additional water to make sure they are submerged. If beans were soaked press manual and adjust cook time to 8 minutes. If beans were not soaked push manual and adjust time to 25 minutes. Once done, I like to allow for a natural pressure release. If you are new to the Instant Pot world, natural pressure release is when you allow the pressure to come down on it’s own vs. quick pressure release where you push the nob and force the pressure to come out.
- While the beans are cooking I take the time to chop the onions, green pepper and bacon. I don’t have any suggestions for chopping bacon, if you do please share, but I do have a tip for onions and peppers! I purchased cuisinart’s food chopper a few years back. It’s inexpensive and I honestly use it quite often! Here is a link to purchase if you do not already have one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000645YM?tag=onamzjen081df-20&linkCode=ic5&ascsubtag=amzn1.infl.us.product&creativeASIN=B0000645YM&ref=exp_influencer-79a04da4_dp_vv_d&th=1
- When Beans are done, make sure they are fork tender. If they are ready, drain the water with a colander in a bowl because you will need it later.
- Once the beans are out of the Instant Pot, put the pot on the sauté function and throw in the chopped bacon to start the bacon sofrito. Once it’s crisp discard half of the fat. You can do this on the stove top while the beans are pressure cooking but one of the things I like about the Instant Pot is that for the most part you can make everything in one pot and have less dishes to wash. This is a major plus!
- Add 1/8 cup of olive oil to the cooked bacon and saute the onions, green peppers and minced garlic until the onions are caramelized. This is your bacon sofrito!
- In the meantime mix 1 tsp of salt with 1/8 olive oil in the beans.
- Add the rice to the bacon sofrito along with the water that was reserved from when the beans were pressure cooked. Make sure to measure it and add any water necessary to make 5 cups.
- Add the remaining spices.
- Add back the beans
- Put the lid on your instant pot and make sure the nob is at sealing. Hit manual and set the time to 4 minutes.
- Once done I like to allow for natural pressure release. Unless you hear the sound of the pressure drop (it’s suttle so easy to miss), I give it about 15-25 minutes.
- Open your pot and enjoy!
I learned to make these for Christmas Eve but of course it can by enjoyed with anything else. In this case we had with palomilla steak and the next day I made chicken and a tomato salad. I may make ropa vieja next week (another blog post idea since I also figured out how to make this one on the Instant Pot!)
In the recipe book she tells you this serves 6-8 but I feel it serves more. I make 2 or 3 batches for our 30-40 person party and usually have some left over. To give an idea, we have had about 5 or 6 half cup servings and still have this much left over:
If you try this I would love to hear how it went and please share any tips!
Thanks for visiting!