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.
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
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.
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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