xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Ria's Simple "Trini Christmas is de Best" Holiday Ham

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ria's Simple "Trini Christmas is de Best" Holiday Ham

When I thought I finally had a strong grasp on 40, life went ahead and dealt me another wild card which, if I didn't play right, would result in permanent despair. I did some introspection. I realized that somewhere hidden in the challenges of the present year, I have actually accomplished every goal and dream I've ever set and dreamed of. The house by the beach, my family, the successful career, the exotic vacations, the dream Audi that waits in the parking lot for me everyday after a long day's work(I really really love my car), and so much more. I have become the woman in my dreams(well almost, there is always room for improvement). I had to stop for a moment (like a week) and appreciate and be grateful. Just be grateful for all the good and right in my life. I have learned that when we are grateful the universe gives us more to be grateful for.

I reminded myself that happiness is not only success or money or having a family it is being grateful for NOW. It's a decision I make to be happy despite the heartbreaks, disappointments, my possessions and achievements, or lack of. I will not and should not continue to depend on any person (OR THING) to be happy. Happiness is accepting the present for what it is and loving myself despite the fact that no human being is capable of loving me unconditionally, like they promise or will promise. Also, don't expect anyone to be perfect because I am not perfect either.

When life deals us blow after blow, we should accept the ephemeral defeats, scream, complain, cry, but rise, dust ourselves off and keep climbing. Keep moving forward. What we see as obstacles are meant to lead us on the path to the ideal life--our highest, best selves--and in my current situation, teach me the ultimate lesson in forgiveness. We must trust that the Universe is always working in our favor, aim for the ideal life, forgive it all and resolve to be happy. We truly are as happy as we make up our minds to be.

That's my advice to you and myself as we close 2014 and get ready to start chapter 2015 in our lives. Not only have I begun to be more grateful, accepting, forgiving, loving, but cooking is and has always been part of my therapy. This recipe is one of my favorites and I am happy to share it with you today!

Growing up in my mother's house I never ate pork, or so I proclaimed, but come Christmas time, I ate ham and bread like there was no tomorrow. Many of the most popular Trini Christmas Songs include a line or two about pork or ham, which confirms our love and passion for the delicacy. Undoubtedly, homemade bread and ham is one of the reasons why Trini Christmas is de best. Black cake(rum/fruit cake) and sorrel are two other reasons, but I have already posted about that here and here.
For many years it's been our family tradition to make homemade bread and ham on Thanksgiving Eve or Christmas Eve. This guarantees that the morning after there is a quick breakfast on the table as I'm usually too busy preparing our Thanksgiving Feast or Cinnamon Buns for the kids and neighbors on Christmas morning. When the Canadians used to visit, we'd have lots of laughs during the ham and bread making process, then we'd indulge in bread straight out of the oven, slathered with butter, with slices of ham and laced with pepper sauce, until midnight.

I've used this recipe for almost two decades. Once I was inspired to alter the recipe but the results weren't as good. I learned that simple was and still is de best. 

Many have mentioned boiling their ham, I did that once and realized that if your ham is not the traditional salted Trinidadian ham, boiling is not required. This is a no fuss, simple recipe that does not require basting or peering into the oven every 15 minutes to check on it(more like once per hour), plus the ingredients are simple. Some things need to be simple so you can concentrate on the other non-simple things in your life…like making the bread to go with the ham, wrapping presents, detangling Christmas lights and putting up the tree…Actually this bread recipe is rather fun to make and equally delicious. You should attempt it, you won't regret it.

Don't let the number of cloves deter you from trying this recipe. I guarantee you that it's not overpowering. It just sounds like a lot.

My family always look forward to our holiday ham and personally I couldn't keep myself away from this ham. I ate it for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. I even ate the pineapple. You know me.

I hope this recipe becomes a Tradition in your home too.

Ria's Holiday Ham

1 [5-7 pounds] smoked, bone-in fully cooked ham***
½-1 cup dark brown sugar (I use sugar in the raw brown sugar)
½ cup honey (if runny use 1/4 cup--some brands are thicker than others)
1-3 tablespoons dijon or yellow mustard (to your liking)
1 can pineapple rings, drained and patted dry
100 cloves (If you don't care to count, ask any kid to do so or use a scant 1 ½ tablespoons)
Reserved pineapple juice, optional

***7 pounds is ideal, but this recipe can be used for a ham that's up to 10 pounds. For this recipe, I used a 10 pound ham, because that's what the Hubbie brought home. Fore more than 7 pounds I increase the brown sugar to 1 cup and use 3 tbs mustard. 

Trinidadians like boiling their ham before baking, I would only do so if it is salty. Read the package instructions to make your decision. If it says boil first, then BOIL!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Remove ham from packaging and rinse well under running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Score the surface of the ham creating a diamond pattern and place cloves at each corner and/or center of the diamond.

3. In a medium bowl whisk honey, brown sugar and mustard and 1 tablespoon of the pineapple juice (You don't want it too runny-it has to stay on the ham!).

4. Rub or brush mixture over ham.

5. Place ham in a baking pan or roasting pan (not too wide or else the ham juices will evaporate too quickly and you will have no glaze) and top with the pineapple rings(secure with toothpicks if they do not wish to stay put). If all the pineapple rings don't fit on the surface of the ham, place in the pan. You may pour a few tablespoons of the remaining pineapple juice in the pan too.

6. Place the ham in the oven and bake uncovered @350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes per pound-until it is the color below-may take longer in your oven. Baste every 30 mins for about 3 minutes continuously each time. This is called the "ham love-making process". Give it love to get love.  During the last 30 minutes,  when the pan juices are thickening and hopefully becoming a syrup, baste every ten minutes to create a nice thick, fantastical, irresistible glaze. Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes or overnight. Remove pineapple slices and cloves. Sometimes I leave them on if I am not slicing it right away.

Slice thinly and serve with hot home-made bread slathered with butter and hot sauce aka Trini style peppah sauce. I usually strain the sauce from the bottom of the pan and drizzle it over the ham slices to kick it up another notch. It soaks back in over time and adds even more flavor.  I also use the pineapple in my sandwiches! Need I say more??

For your listening pleasure while you bake your ham and bread....and because there is no Trini Christmas without good music:
[Don't forget to come back to this page!]

Click here for my Christmas Music Playlist on YouTube

Trini Christmas Songs/Parang:
Trini Christmas is de best - Susan Macio
Bring out the ham - Marcia Miranda
Ah want a piece of Pork - Scrunter

You could also listen to Daisy Voisin, the Trini Queen of Parang, Lord Kitchener(Drink ah Rum), Baron(It's Christmas) or Machel Montano (Soca Santa)!

With love, 
and Christmas Blessings,

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Cooking with Ria said...

You are officially my go-to person for delicious recipes! My ham has a few minutes to go in the oven and my bread is in loaf pans almost completely risen. My kitchen smells insanely delicious!

Cooking with Ria said...

Love the blog page and the stories of your life!
Keep up the awesome recipes sissy!

Cooking with Ria said...

Love your blog page!

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