In Peru, as in many other countries, the most important and therefore the most popular celebration is Christmas, due to the fact that most of the population is Christian. It is customary for people to gather with the closest family to wait for 12 o’clock at night and exchange gifts.
Christmas dinner is one of the main moments in this celebration where we remember the birth of Jesus. Thus, the Christmas dinner is a real banquet, which is usually the best of the year, prepared in the warmth of the home.
While it is true that the Christmas tradition is to eat stuffed turkey, this is a custom that was adopted in Peru and originated in the American tradition of Thanksgiving Day.
There are many people who think that turkey meat is not very tasty, but due to the famous stuffing and the different side dishes at dinner, they can enjoy it.
However, there are other people who prefer to replace turkey with the tasty baked pork. For this reason, turkey or pork are excellent options as a main course for the traditional Christmas dinner.
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Let’s discover what Christmas dinner is like in one of the countries with the best cuisine in the world:
Turkey stuffed in the oven
The whole turkey is marinated with a mixture containing orange juice, aji panca, ground garlic, salt, a little pisco, rosemary, blonde sugar, lemon juice and sillao.
It is baked for several hours with a filling composed of ground pork, ground beef, garlic, onion, bread crumbs, mint, pisco, nutmeg, salt and pepper. All these ingredients give the turkey meat a delicious flavor and a lot of juice.
Here we present a recipe in the Peruvian gastronomy style, with its respective stuffing. It can be accompanied with different kinds of mashed apples, potatoes or sweet potatoes, and different types of rice, salads, etc. according to different tastes and customs.
Important tips before preparation
- A key secret for the turkey meat to come out juicy is to prepare a mixture with the juice of 4 oranges, 1 glass of pisco and a spoonful of salt. Then, with a syringe, inject it all over the turkey, mainly in the breast.
- If the turkey is not fresh and is frozen, it is preferable to thaw it in the refrigerator for several days before baking.
- If you do not have time, you can thaw the turkey by placing it without removing the wrapping in a tank in which it is covered with water. For each kilo of turkey, leave it in the water for approximately 30 minutes.
- The stuffing should always be cooked before putting in the turkey.
Ingredients for the maceration of a 6 kg turkey (for 8 people)
- 2 cups of orange juice
- 4 tablespoons of aji panca bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons of ground garlic
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- ½ cup of pisco
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup of sillao
Preparation of the marinade
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Then macerate by rubbing the turkey inside and out with the mixture.
Ingredients for the stuffing
- ¼ kilo of butter
- ¼ kilo of ground pork meat
- 1 medium onion, diced into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon of ground garlic
- ¼ pound of ground beef
- 1 small can of peas
- 100 grs. bread crumbs
- 3 eggs
- 1 branch of coriander
- 1 sprig of mint
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 glass of pisco
Preparation of the stuffing
In a pot or wok prepare a dressing with the diced onion, minced garlic and butter. Season the ground meats with salt, pepper, the chopped coriander branch, and then add them to the dressing pot.
When the meats are half cooked, add the pisco and nutmeg, and wait until the meats are cooked. Add the breadcrumbs, the three beaten eggs, the peas, and mix everything well until a uniform dough is formed.
Place the mint branch inside the turkey belly, then add the stuffing, and then sew it. Also stuff the turkey’s belly and sew it.
Place the turkey in the oven preheated to 160 degrees Celsius, and leave it for approximately 3 hours.
Every 30 minutes the turkey should be sprayed with the juice that is in the roasting pan to prevent it from drying out. When the turkey is well browned and after making sure it is well cooked, remove it from the oven. It is ready to cut and serve.
Baked suckling pig
It uses a piglet leg seasoned with salt and marinated with garlic, onion, aji panca, aji mirasol, aji amarillo, vinegar, mustard and then baked in the oven for a few hours depending on the weight of the pork leg.
It is customary to use green apples because they are acidic, which after being peeled and put in a saucepan over low heat, with water, sugar, cinnamon and butter, are squeezed to the desired consistency.
Peru is a rice-growing country, that’s why it is essential in the most important dinner of the year. Arroz a la jardinera is a style of rice very popular in Peru. It has peas, chopped carrots, shelled corn, chopped beans, chopped peppers, tomato paste, and garlic.
This rice is very tasty and contains thin slices of bacon, chopped onion, ground garlic, cinnamon, almonds, toasted and chopped walnuts or pecans, julienned spinach leaves and bell bell pepper.
Salad is important at Christmas time to balance the dinner since a lot of meat is usually eaten. A tasty salad for the occasion is based on cabbage, apple, carrot, pineapple in syrup, grapes, walnut pieces, almonds and yogurt.
It is a deeply rooted custom in Peru for Christmas time, it was brought by the Italians in the 60’s and has become so popular that the paneton is not only consumed at Christmas, but all year round. It is common to see people walking around the city on Christmas Eve with their paneton.
As its name indicates, it is a large sweet bread, which contains raisins and candied fruit, usually purchased in bakeries and supermarkets, but some people use to prepare it at home. A variation of panetón is the quinoa-based quinuatón.
It is the traditional accompaniment to panetón at Christmas dinner. A hot cup of chocolate accompanied by a slice of paneton is a must. The tradition of chocolate and panettone continues on the morning of December 25.
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