By Chef Chris De La Rosa
Christmas ham is a must, in just about every pork-eating home in the Caribbean. There are many, who choose not to dine in the swine, but I refuse to be prejudiced against this wonderful meat. So, you know, I had to share this wicked recipe.
I fondly recall the ham sandwiches our mom would have ready for us at breakfast on Christmas morning, as she had other delectable goodies going in the oven and on the stove.
Speaking about ham, don’t forget to check out the chow chow recipe I shared a while back.
Ham (smoked/bone in) * about 8lbs
5 sprigs thyme
1 cup pineapple juice
1 table spoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1/2 cup brown sugar (golden)
2 table spoon honey
pinch of cinnamon
Dressing the ham when glazing…
5-8 slices of pineapple
tooth picks for securing the pineapple slices
Note: If using a shoulder ham with a fat cap on the top, be sure to place that side up when roasting. As the fat melts, it will keep the ham nice and juicy.
If your ham is encased in a cloth mesh, be sure to leave it on at this point, but you’ll have to remove it before you put it in the oven. Give the ham a rinse (btw, I used a smoked leg), then place it in a deep pot. Cover with water, add the scallions, cloves and fresh thyme.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle boil and cook for about 30 minutes. This will help remove some of the smoky impurities and infuse it with the herbal notes. Drain and get ready to finish cooking in the oven. Set your oven to 350F, and you’ll be using the lower rack. Remove the cloth mesh if your ham is covered in one, then wrap the entire ham in tin foil and place in a roasting tray. On average, you’ll need to cook for 20 minutes per pound.
*Please use a roasting pan with a rack, so you can add a couple cups of water to the pan without the ham sitting directly in it. If you find that the water dries out before it’s fully cooked, add a cup or 2 more. This will help keep the ham moist.
As we wait for the ham to roast evenly, let’s prepare the glaze. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients mentioned above, bring it to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Remember to whisk it, so that the sugar melts and everything is blended.
When your ham is fully cooked (use the 20 minutes per pound guide), it’s time to dress it up and start the glazing process. Trim off the skin and most of the fat (a little, good), then stick in the cloves, in a pattern, evenly. Attach slices of the pineapple with the toothpicks and hit it a good dose of the glaze (I used a brush). Then place back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Repeat the glaze a couple more times, brush and place in the oven for 10 minutes. You will start getting a lovely, shiny finish on the ham, the slices of pineapple will start getting lovely caramelized edges and the entire kitchen will have a lovely aroma. Remember to brush on the glaze evenly. For additional color I turned on my broiler (about 450 – 500 F) and allowed the ham to sit in there for about 5 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it as the high heat can burn it very fast.
*You’re free to add as many layers of glaze as you like. For me, 3 layers was enough. Allow the ham to rest (cover in tin foil) before slicing. I assure you this, will be the best ham you’ve ever had or serve. Don’t be surprised if your kids start giving you unexpected hugs and your “special” someone may even get frisky.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections globally every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource of Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.