All I want for Christmas is food

Complete your Noche Buena spread with these special recipes by some of the most prolific chefs in the country

You know it’s Christmas because the invitations for brunch, lunch, dinner, and after dinner are pouring in. You know it’s Christmas because the table is groaning under the weight of family heirloom delicacies, each dish a part of the tradition and celebration. If not yet, then you are groaning under the pressure of coming up with such dishes by Christmas Eve, making sure each dish is worthy of your childhood memories.

Here are cherished recipes from some of the most respected Filipino chefs.

Baked chicken casserole

By Chef Myke Tatung

This treasure recipe is the birth child of chicken ala king and shepherd’s pie. It is a warm, hearty meal great for sharing and for special celebrations with the entire friends and family. The dish, whose recipe can be found in the award-winning Simpol The Cookbook by Chef Tatung, may be simple but it is a sure-fire crowdpleaser.


(Serves seven to eight portions)

Set A:

1 whole chicken, halved
1-1 1/2 kgs potatoes, peeled
1 pc large carrot, peeled
6 cups water
2 tbsps salt

Set B:

1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pc onion, minced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 can sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (from Set A)
Shredded chicken (from Set A)
Diced carrots (from Set A)
1 can corn kernels|
1 1/4 cups cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Set C:

Boiled potatoes (from Set A)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Quick-melt cheese, for topping


1. Place chicken, potatoes, carrots, and water in a pot, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until chicken, carrots, and potatoes are fully cooked and tender. Strain and keep chicken stock. Let chicken and vegetables cool down to room temperature. Remove chicken skin and bones, and shred meat. Dice carrots and add to shredded chicken.

2. Sauté garlic, onion, mushrooms, and celery in butter. Season with a pinch of salt, and add flour. Cook for three minutes or until a paste-like consistency is achieved. Slowly add chicken stock while stirring constantly to ensure there are no lumps. Add shredded chicken with carrots. Add corn and cook until mixture reaches a thick consistency, then add cream. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper. Pour into an 8×10-inch baking dish. Spread evenly and set aside.

3. In a saucepan, melt butter, add cream, and heat to a simmer, making sure the mixture does not boil. In a separate mixing bowl, mash potatoes well before adding the hot cream and melted butter mixture. Mix until smooth and well combined, then season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over the chicken mixture. Top with quick-melt cheese, and bake for 35 minutes in a 170°C oven.

Myke Sarthou, more known as Chef Tatung, is a multi-awarded chef-journalist, author of bestselling cookbooks, a culinary heritage advocate, host of cooking show Simpol Kitchen, and a restaurateur in charge of Lore, Tatung’s Private Dining, among others.



By Chef Jam Melchor

This Kapampangan festive staple pairs nicely with any stuffed dish—usually paired by Chef Jam with his classic chicken galantine. Similar to paella, it is cooked with different parts of chicken, including the liver, with turmeric, lined with banana leaves.


(Serves eight portions)

450 grams (about 2 heaping cups) of sticky rice (malagkit)
3 tbsps cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 inch fresh turmeric (luyang dilaw), peeled, grated, and soaked in 2 teaspoons of water
1 tbsp fish sauce
150 grams chicken, cut into  large cubes
80 grams chicken liver, cut into large cubes
500 ml coconut milk
1 pc banana leaf
1/3 cup carrot, sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
5 large hard-boiled egg, cut into wedges


1. Wash the rice very well, drain the water and set aside. In a medium pan, or a medium paellera, if available, heat cooking oil and add onions then cook until transparent. Add the garlic and cook until the aroma is released. Do not brown the garlic.

2. Squeeze grated turmeric to extract the juice and add it to the pan. Season with fish sauce.

3. Add the chicken pieces and allow them to brown, about three minutes.

4. Add the liver and sauté for about two minutes.

5. Add the rice and sauté for about a minute just until it turns transparent.

6. Add the coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes just until the rice is cooked.

Note: Traditionally, banana leaves are inserted at the bottom of the pan and the bringhe is allowed to cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed. For a simpler method, transfer the rice mixture to another bowl and line the same pan with banana leaves.

7. Place the mixture back in the pan and top it with carrots and bell pepper and allow to cook until all the liquid is gone.

Jose Antonio Miguel Melchor, more known as Jam Melchor, is the founder of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving local heirloom food.  A member of Slow Food International, he is also the first Filipino chef to present at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. He is the owner of food concepts Yes Plate and Gastro Grocer.


Bibingka cupcakes

By Chef Miko Aspiras

Bibingka cupcakes (Ben Halcomb for 7Chairs)

Fun and easy to bake, the traditional Filipino rice cake treat in bite size, created by Chef Miko Aspiras for a recently concluded cooking demonstration at Paddy’s Markets Haymarket in Australia, is a must-try merienda or dessert this season. Smaller than your regular bibingka, it packs the same glutinous punch.


57 grams butter
210 grams sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
237 ml coconut milk
79 ml evaporated milk
168 grams glutinous rice flour
65 grams rice flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Banana leaves for lining muffin pan


1. Brown the butter in a pan, cool down.

2. Pour over sugar, whisk until well mixed.

3. Add in eggs, then whisk one at a time.

4. Whisk in salt and vanilla extract.

5. Add in milk and coconut milk

6. Sift together rice flour, glutinous rice flour, and baking powder. Fold it in together with the rest of the mixture until smooth.

7. Line cupcake pans with bananas leaves or cupcake liners.

8. Bake at 170°C.

Miko Aspiras (Miguel Nacianceno)

Michael Llamanzares Aspiras, more known as Chef Miko, is an Australia-based Filipino pastry chef, celebrated for winning gold at the the 2011 Hong Kong Food Exposition, becoming the first Filipino representative to compete at both the SIGEP Gelato Convention and Valrhona Chocolate Chef Championship, as well as being included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 in recognition of his business, the Tasteless Food Group. He is the executive pastry chef of brands like Visum Ventures and Don’t Doughnuts.


Beef morcon

By Chef Jester Arellano

As inextricable from the Christmas celebration as the Christmas tree or Jose Mari Chan blaring out of the speakers everywhere, beef morcon is not only a staple on the holiday table, this special meat roll is also considered an all-time favorite. Stuffed with sausage or hotdogs, carrots, pickles, cheese, and egg, this roulade is a roll of delight and everyone is looking forward to having it for Noche Buena.


(Serves three to four portions)


55 ml soy sauce
55 ml calamansi juice
10 grams McCormick Paprika Salt
5 grams McCormick Crushed
Black Pepper
3 grams McCormick Sea Salt
200 grams beef brisket or top round (2 pcs, cut thinly about 1/3 inch)


40 grams cheddar cheese (batonnet/sticks)
25 grams pickled cucumber (batonnet/sticks)
30 grams hotdog (cut into half, lengthwise)
20 grams carrots (battonet/sticks)
20 grams pork ham

Braising liquid

50 grams onions, finely chopped
15 grams garlic, finely chopped
75 grams tomato, finely chopped
75 grams chorizo, sliced
50 grams tomato paste
110 ml red wine
500 ml water
1/2 pc bouillon beef cubes


Flattening and marinating the beef

1. Pound each of the beef with a mallet to flatten and tenderize. 
2. Marinate the beef with soy sauce, calamansi juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover and let it set for 30 minutes to an hour.
3. Remove the beef from the marinade and reserve the liquid for the sauce or braising liquid.

Filling and rolling the beef

1. Place a piece of beef flat on a plate or chopping board. 
2. Arrange each of the filling on tip of the meat on the end near you. 
3. Roll the meat to the other end, enclosing the filling inside. 
4. Using a butcher’s twine, secure the roll at around one-inch intervals. 
5. Repeat the filling, rolling, and tying with the remaining of the beef.

Braising the beef 

1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat. Sear the beef rolls until brown on all sides. 
2. Remove the beef then add the onions and garlic in the same pot. Sauté until fragrant and soft. 
3. Add the chorizo, diced tomato and tomato paste. Sauté for two to three minutes.
4. Deglaze it with red wine. Let it simmer for two to three minutes or until the alcohol smell is gone.
5. Add the reserved marinade and the beef stock. 
6. Bring to a boil and add the beef rolls. Turn the heat low and cover the pot with a lid. 
7. Braise for two to three hours or until the beef is tender. Make sure to turn and stir the roll and braising liquid from time to time to avoid any bottom scorching. 

Finishing the sauce and serving

1. Transfer and reserve the beef rolls on a plate or container. Remove the twine and cut into round slices.
2. Simmer and reduce the sauce until thick and flavorful. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
3. Pour the reduced sauce with the sliced beef rolls.
Serve while hot.

Jester G. Arellano is a chef, expert culinarian, and full-time professional faculty at the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management (SHRIM) of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.