Homemade Holiday Ham

Make Noche Buena extra special with your very own homemade holiday ham with delicious pineapple glaze. All you need are five ingredients and a little patience to turn out this Christmas masterpiece that’s sure to impress!

A Filipino Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without the star of the Noche Buena – the Christmas Ham! And wouldn’t it be more special if it was prepared and cooked from home?

Making homemade ham is very easy and way better than expensive store-bought ham. All you need are five ingredients,  some meat netting, and a little patience to turn out a Noche Buena centerpiece that’s sure to impress.

Homemade ham ingredients

  • Pork – ham is traditionally made from the hind leg (pigue) or shoulder (kasim) of the pork.  You can use either bone-in or boneless but make sure to choose one with a cap of skin.
  • Curing mixture – composed of rock salt, brown sugar, and Prague powder #1, or what is known as curing salt. This pink salt, NOT to be confused with Himalayan salt, is a preserving agent used to deter the growth of bacteria and recommended for meat that requires short cures and will be cooked and eaten relatively quickly.
  • Pineapple juice – infuses the cured ham with additional flavor

Christmas Ham or Hamon is produced by curing raw pork by salting (dry curing) or brining (wet curing). The curing process duration varies by the type of ham. It may be as short as a week, which is the usual curing process of holiday hams, or some take months, even years, to achieve the desired flavor characteristic.

After the curing process, the meat is then cooked in pineapple juice and brown sugar, which will be simmered into a beautiful thick sauce for serving.

The process

Curing – the pork ham is rubbed with the curing mixture, placed in an airtight container, and refrigerated for 5 to 7 days. Once cured, rinse the meat well and drain.

Shaping–  meat net, ham net, or butcher’s net is an elastic netting that can be used for all types of meats and cuts. It wraps the meat snuggly to hold it together when cooking. Alternatively, you can also use kitchen twine to tie and shape the ham.

Cooking – place the cured ham in a large pot, add pineapple juice and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until tender. Do not overcook the meat, or it will be too tender and might break when carving or slicing.

Broiling – remove ham from the pot and cut the netting. Let cool, generously rub with brown sugar, and broil to caramelize.

Making the glaze – continue to simmer the liquid until thickened into a sauce for the ham.

Helpful tips

  • Do not use more sugar than salt in the curing mixture lest the pork spoils during the curing process.
  • The pork will expel liquid during curing as the salt mixture will draw out moisture from the meat.
  • Make sure hands or implements are clean when turning the pork to prevent from introducing bacteria and contaminants.
  • While the ham is still hot, remove the net to prevent it from sticking too much to the meat.

How to serve

  • Homemade Holiday Ham is the perfect addition to your family dinners or special occasions. Serve with the pineapple glaze and enjoy with steamed rice, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and your favorite Christmas fixings.
  • Use in other dishes such as ham and cheese bread rollssipo egg, and chicken macaroni salad.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

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