You know it’s Christmas season in the Philippines when several varieties of ham start appearing in the supermarkets.
There’s leg of Chinese ham, for example, jamon de bola, American-style ham, Fiesta ham, Festival ham, boneless ham, and bone-in ham, among others.
The hams vary in size from the 1-kilogram round ham to the heftier leg of ham. Some hams may have a smoky flavor, while others may taste fruity. Textures may also vary. There are lean hams as well as hams with glazed layers of fat.
Indeed, ham seems to be the crowning glory of every Noche Buena table. Aside from its stunning, appetizing look, a whole ham with a gleaming glaze invokes sweet nostalgia for those days of our lolos and lolas.
Although most hams are sold already cooked, you can do a lot to enhance their flavor. You can bake them with a sugar glaze, for instance, as well as add caramelized fruits. This is exactly what I did when we were gifted with a fully cooked whole round ham. Here, a recipe for pineapple-sugar-glazed ham you may want to try.
Baked Ham with Pineapple Sugar Glaze
1 fully cooked whole ham, about 1 to 2 kg
10-12 whole cloves (optional)
1½ c brown sugar
1½ c unsweetened pineapple juice
1½ c pineapple jam or preserves
5-6 canned pineapple slices (drained)
Maraschino cherries, drained (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Score the ham: Using a sharp knife, make shallow incisions in a diamond pattern on the surface of the ham. If desired, insert whole cloves into the ham at regular intervals.
Arrange the ham in an ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, pineapple juice, pineapple jam or preserves and pineapple slices. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pineapples soften and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven (after 25 to 30 minutes) but keep the oven on. Brush the ham with the pineapple sugar sauce, then reserve about one-half cup of the sauce to serve later. Pour the remaining sauce over the baked ham. Arrange the pineapple slices on the side. Return the ham to the oven and bake at the same temperature (350°F/180°C) for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.
After removing the ham from the oven, remove the cloves from the ham and decorate the top of the ham with Maraschino cherries, if desired.
Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Slice the ham into serving pieces and drizzle with the reserved sauce, or serve the sauce on the side. Arrange the ham slices on a platter with the pineapple slices and cherries on the side. INQ