Noche Buena dish: Sweet Ham Recipe

sweet-ham-noche-buenaProcessed Ham these days are very expensive but you can surely prepare your very own Sweet Ham for Noche Buena. Here is a Sweet Ham recipe that has been tested many times in our kitchen. Though it is not free of preservatives, it uses very small doses of salitre. It tastes really good with the Pineapple Sauce, recipe is shown below the Sweet Ham preparation.


3 kilos (pigue or hita) pig’s leg without the bones; select one with the skin and fat intact
9 Tbsps sugar
8 tbsps salt
1-1/2 tsps msg or vetsin (optional)
2 tsps prague powder (instead of saltpeter or salitre) – In Manila, you can probably buy salitre at Chocolate Lover, a supplier of baking and cooking supplies

Address: Chocolate Lover Incorporated, 45 P.Tuazon Blvd, Quezon City 1109
Phone: 02 724 4964
Hours: Sunday hours 9:00 am–1:00 pm


1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Rub these seasonings well into the meat. Set aside the seasoned meat in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for one day.

3. Tie the ham tightly into a ball with string (I use cotton crochet string). Remove/Drain the meat juices that were left in the glass bowl and set aside for injecting.

4. Using a huge syringe (you can buy the largest syringe at Mercury drugstore for less than 20 pesos), inject the flavored meat juice all around the ham in small doses.

5. Set the ham aside in the glass bowl (covered) inside the refrigerator. Repeat the injecting process every day until no juices remain.

6. Keep the ham inside a plastic bag in the freezer for a month or more.

To cook the ham:

1. Add enough pineapple juice to cover the ham at about 3/4’s level (not quite to the top of the ham).

2. Add the following:

Brown sugar, just enough to sweeten the pineapple juice mixture
Bay leaves
Crushed garlic

3. Cook the mixture in a heavy, teflon-type pot over a low fire until the meat becomes tender. Watch out that the meat doesn’t get burned. You can prevent over-browning by turning the meat from time to time.

4. Cool the meat and slice into pieces.

If you want a drier ham, put the ham in a glass dish (pyrex) before cooling and slicing. The meat, however, will shrink considerably and will be a little tough (almost like beef jerky consistency).

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