On Christmas Eve it is customary serving chicken soup and various meat dishes at family gatherings. In addition, home-made tangerine, orange or aniseed liquors or a good glass of Madeira wine are also drunk.
On Christmas Day generally people eat pork in wine and garlic or stuffed turkey. Furthermore the most common sweets for this season are "Bolo de Família" (Family Cake), "Bolo de Mel" (Honey Cake), and popular sweets like "rosquilhas de manteiga" (butter biscuits) "broas de mel" e "broas de manteiga" (honey and butter biscuits) and "palitos de cerveja" (beer finger biscuits).

Meat in Wine and Garlic

1 kg porkloin (with some fat)
2 cups of wine vinegar
Rock salt, to taste
10 garlic cloves
Bread slices, as needed
Bay leaves
Pepper, marjoram, savory

Cut the meat in cubes and season with salt. On the following day, make a marinade with the vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper and herbs. Place the meat in the marinade for at least three days, in a clay pot. Fry with the marinade and serve with the bread, fried in the grease, baked sweet potatoes, fried cornmeal and orange slices.

Family or Black Cake

500 g flour
500 g sugar
250 g butter
125 g lard
6 teaspoons of sugar cane molasses
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Lemon zest
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 L milk
1 wine glass of Sweet Madeira wine
6 eggs
Dried fruit (raisins, nuts, etc.)

Mix well all the ingredients. Pour in a greased pan and bake in a very hot oven.

Secret: the drier the fruit, the longer the cake lasts, up to 5 days. This cake is initially beaten vigorously by hand.

Madeira Honey Cake

Ingredients for the leavening:

500 g unleavened flour
30 g leavening (baker's yeast)
about 3 dl water

Knead the flour with the yeast, make a ball, cover with plastic and let rise for 2 to 3 hours.

Remaining ingredients:

1000 g unleavened flour
350 g sugar
300 g butter
150 g lard
clove (about 1.5 g)
fennel (about 1.5g)
15 g cinnamon
50 g nuts
50 g chopped almonds
lemon zest
400 g mixed crystallised fruit
150 g sultanas
15 g baking soda
juice of 1 orange
8 dl Madeira molasses
2 dl Madeira wine

Baking instructions:

Mix the butter with the sugar until creamy, add spices and juice of an orange and a little lemon zest. Melt the molasses and lard together and add to mixture. Add the flour and baking soda and mix for about five minutes. Add to this dough the leaven previously kneaded and continue to mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Lastly, add the crystallised fruit and mix for an additional five minutes. Let rise for 24 hours. Place the dough in greased and wax paper-lined pans (only the bottom of the pan) and decorate the cakes with almonds and nuts on top. Bake them in a 190o degree oven, for 25 minutes. Honey cake is broken by hand.

NOTE: Use pans with removable bottoms, with a diameter of 15 cm and a height of 4 cm and placedough 3 cm high.

Tangerine Liqueur


1 l sugar cane rum
1 l water
1kg sugar
Rinds of 6/7 tangerines (large and ripe)


Finely cut the tangerine rind, with no white so as to not be bitter. Steep the rinds in thesugar cane rum for 15 days. Once the steeping time has passed, add water and sugar and heat to make simple syrup. Add simple syrup to the sugar cane rum, removing rinds andfiltering the liqueur. It is now ready to serve.

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