So, even though COVID is rampant, the one thing my family can still look forward to is Christmas. I will have Christmas, dammit! The nice clean house, the Christmas beats, the movies, and most importantly, the food. Of course, as Jamaicans, one of the bigger aspects of our culture is food. Christmas dinner to us is what Thanksgiving is to North America. There are some items that just scream ‘Jamaican Christmas’. Each family will mix and match according to preferences, budget, availability and other factors. Today, I’m sharing my Jamaican family’s Christmas Dinner Menu this year.
For my family, Christmas is rare time when a few of our immediate family members are in one place. Every year since adulthood, a few of us tend to be in different places, spaces and even countries, but it’s usually an intimate affair regardless (which is lucky for us due to Covid and everything). Also, the Christmas dinner must serve for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Otherwise, we will all be looking at each other wondering,
Ugh… what you gonna eat? Cuz…
If we really did eat it all, we’ll end up in KFC or something.
On Christmas Day, we typically finish up cooking in the morning which began with prepping the day before, eat in the late afternoon and hang around telling, jokes, stories laughing and drinking well into the night.
Jamaican Christmas Dinner Must-Haves
In Jamaica, there are some items that screams ‘A Jamaican Made Christmas‘, its;
- Gungo Peas and Rice: During the rest of the year, a very common, everyday side dish in Jamaica is red kidney beans and rice. We call it ‘Rice and Peas’ and even six days pass and we don’t have it, we tend to make it on Sunday to go along with our Protein. When the holiday season rolls around, however, the red kidney beans are replaced with green or dry gungo peas, also known as pigeon peas.
- Sorrel: A traditional holiday drink made from the sorrel flower, this beverage is stewed with ginger and spices like pimento. Sorrel is synonymous Jamaican Christmas. Even if you forego everything else, the sorrel is considered a must. Dinner isn’t truly complete without a glass of sorrel. The fruit bears just in time for the jolly season and Jamaicans have been known to imbibe on the “spiked” brew at this time of year.
- Black Cake: A traditional holiday cake made with fruits that have been soaked in wine or rum.
- Chicken: I’m adding chicken to this list because Jamaicans LOVE chicken. Prepared every which way you can possibly fathom (seasoned ways), even if there are other proteins at the table, it’s not uncommon to have chicken prepared at least two different ways.
What Is on My Family’s Menu This Year
For our family, each person will bring 2 or three dishes to help the meal come together.
- Honey Lemon Chicken: Baked chicken, well seasoned, marinated and glazed with honey lemon sauce.
- Oxtail and Beans
- Chicken + Pork Ham: Hubby doesn’t eat pork and I found Chicken ham, so I decided to try my hand at it, but we will have pork ham as well.
- Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese: This is my auntie’s special recipe, which uses three kinds of cheese (cream cheese, cheddar, and mozzarella), semi-heavy cream. Topped more cheese.
- Potato Salad: Made with Irish potatoes, corn, cheese, green peas, and carrots.
- Tossed Salad: Lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, cranberries. Topped with a homemade/bottle dressing.
- Gungo Peas and Rice
- Jamaican Black Christmas Cake
- Sorrel Drinks (Virgin, Alcoholic)
- Carrot Juice: Heavy on the ginger, please!
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