Thursday 23 December 2010


For as long as I can remember, my family always cooked our ham in pineapple juice, with lots of brown sugar and aromatic spices. I was assigned with the task at a very young age (several decades ago) and always happily obliged and quite mastered the skill. It always brought home the fact that Christmas IS indeed here. I love the smell it brings to the house, maybe even to the neighborhood. 

A few years back, I saw Nigella Lawson cook her ham in cola, tried it and was hooked. I still add pineapple juice and my usual spices, but the cola, aside from tenderizing the ham gives the flavour a new twist. This flavour blend and method of cooking gives an ordinary joint of ham an intense Christmas flavour.


1 uncooked joint of fresh ham
1 liter of pineapple juice
2 liters of cola
1/2 c. dry sherry
1 c. brown sugar
1 whole star anise
6 cloves
2 pcs. cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
light brown sugar for the glaze
whole cloves and glacé cherry halves for decoration (optional)


Wash the ham. Put it in a large pot and add all the ingredients except for the cola and light brown sugar. Top up the liquid with cola to nearly cover the joint of ham. You may not need the whole two litres of cola. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat until tender, topping up the liquid with more cola if needed. 

This 5.3 kg. joint took 3 1/2 hours to cook. Test the ham by poking with a long fork or skewer. If it reaches the middle of the ham easily, then your ham is tender. The tip of the fork should be hot to the touch. Do not over cook the ham because, aside from being dry, it will shred when you slice it. 

Take the ham joint out of the pot. Peel the skin off when cool enough to handle. Score the fat with intersecting diagonal lines to make diamond shapes.

Bake in a pre-heated 400° F/ 200° C oven to brown the fat, about 10-15 minutes. Take out and sprinkle liberally with light brown or demerara sugar. Return to the oven. The sugar will caramelize to form a glaze. 

Repeat this process twice or thrice to ensure that the whole ham has a thick, crisp sugar glaze.

Stud the middle of each diamond with whole cloves on glacé cherry halves as decoration if desired. 

Bring the ham sauce back to a rolling boil and reduce, on high heat, uncovered. It's ready when it has become syrupy, and the taste has the right balance of sweetness and saltiness. Strain and serve this delicious sauce with your ham. 

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  1. OMG this looks so festive, it screams PASKO NA! I haven't cooked ham yet and I was intending to when I get to Vegas, as my father in law cooks it similar to yours, except for the cola part.
    Merry Christmas Adora!

  2. Delicious, Adora! We haven't had a good Christmas Ham in a while, so thanks for the great recipe.

  3. Sounds wonderful, I'm making a ham on Sat. I will have to add some cola to it! Thanks for the idea. Wishing you Happy Holidays.


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