The Christmas Ham

Growing up in the Philippines, a country where Christmas season officially starts on September 1st and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, there are so many beautiful traditions that now I would like to pass on to my children.  Since we don’t have the same 4 or so months of celebration here in the United States, I try to make December 24th and 25th as special as possible.Noche Buena or the Christmas Eve Meal is the highlight of the Filipino celebration.  This festive meal which usually takes place at exactly midnight, according to my late grandmother is a birthday party for Jesus Christ.  I remember family members would gather around the table, say grace and enjoy each others company (or not! Well, one has no choice because the elders require your attendance) while eating what seems to look like more than a week’s worth of food.

For this year, I still continued the midnight feast.  However, I have to change the menu since most of the almost all the traditional food are not allergy friendly. Goodbye to the cheese platter, Buco Fruit Salad, Chicken Macaroni Salad, Embutido, Morcon etc.

christmas-ham gluten free

I was about to scrap the idea of having the star of the Noche Buena which is the Christmas Ham since most of the pre-made hams aren’t allergy friendly or if so, it’s crazy expensive.  Come on, it’s not Christmas without the ham!

While doing last minute grocery shopping at the local Asian store, I came across this nice sized fresh pork shoulder labeled as  Pork Ham.  Call it a light bulb moment but I was inspired to make my very own Christmas Ham.  Though I forgo the curing and the drying steps necessary for regular hams, this version is so easy to follow and delicious you’ll come back for more.

What Christmas traditional food do you wish are allergy safe?



3 1/4 to 4 lbs of fresh bone in pork shoulder
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
3 1/2 Tbs. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp cloves
1 pc. sliced pineapple

1. In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the pork shoulder.  Make sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
2. Score the skin of the pork shoulder and put in the bowl with the seasoning mixture.
3. Cover the bowl and let the pork marinate for at least 2 hours.
4. Transfer the pork and marinade to an oven proof dish and bake at 400 degrees for an hour.
5. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, cover with foil and bake for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Baste the pork with the marinade every 30 minutes.
6. Once cooked, slowly remove the skin and glaze the ham with the sauce collected in the pan. Let the ham rest in the pan for 20 minutes.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and top with a sliced pineapple.
8. Slice thinly and enjoy!


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