Christmas ham

Christmas ham


7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

My Australian father and Filipino mother grew up worlds apart, but they shared a Christmas tradition, which included a centrepiece ham. In those days, hams were hard and heavily salted, and required several days of soaking. For lack of an oven, Lola Lita, my maternal grandmother, would use an iron spatula heated in the fire to caramelise the glazed fat. The next day, leftover ham was eaten in pandesal rolls. My dad’s family had a similar tradition with white bread.

The city of Cagayan de Oro is famous for its pineapples and hams. This recipe is inspired by Del Monte Clubhouse’s glazed ham, which combines the province’s two specialties in one. Here, ham is boiled before baking to moisten and infuse a delicate pineapple flavour. Reserve any remaining glaze to baste on thick slices of leftover ham and fry until warm and caramelised in a pan.


Quantity Ingredient
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and thickly sliced into rounds
5kg cooked smoked leg ham

Pineapple-rum glaze

Quantity Ingredient
500ml unsweetened pineapple juice
125g american-style mustard
220g muscovado or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated


  1. Place the pineapple rounds in the base of a large stockpot that will be big enough to fit the ham. Add the ham, bone side up, then pour in enough water to cover. Alternatively, arrange the pineapple in the base of a large roasting tin. Place the ham on top, fill the pan three-quarters full with water, then cover tightly with foil. Place the pot or roasting tin on the stovetop and bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours, turning the ham occasionally to ensure it cooks evenly, until moist and tender. Remove the ham and set aside until cool enough to handle. Discard the cooking liquid and pineapple.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, put the pineapple juice, mustard and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium–high heat, whisking until the mustard is combined and the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the rum and ginger, reduce the heat to medium, then cook for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Cut through the skin around the shank end of the ham. Using your hands and starting at the rounded end, gently peel back the skin to the shank, leaving the fat intact. Remove the skin in a single piece and reserve. Using a sharp knife, score the fat in a crosshatch pattern, 4 cm apart. Place the ham on a wire rack in a large roasting tin.
  4. Brush the ham generously with the glaze, then pour half of the glaze into the base of the tin and bake for 50–60 minutes, brushing the ham frequently with the reserved glaze and tin juices, until glazed and golden (you may need to add water to the tin during cooking). Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature. The ham will keep, refrigerated in a ham bag, for up to 7 days. Cover with the reserved skin to keep the meat moist.

What is it?

  • Care of the Spanish, who brought Catholicism to the Philippines, Christmas is as central to Filipino life as it is in the West. The Filipino Yuletide season kicks off on 16 December with nine days of pre-dawn Masses and culminates with Three Kings Day (Epiphany) on 6 January. The main event and family feast, known as Noche Buena, is celebrated on Christmas Eve following a late-night Mass. Here, ham is often accompanied by queso de bola (edam cheese), lechon (whole roast suckling pig), bibingka and puto bumbong (native rice treats), tsokolate (hot chocolate) and salabat (ginger tea).
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again