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« Christmas Eve in Jamaica Weekly Rap-up December 11-17, 2005 »

Traditional Jamaican Christmas Ham

12/20/05

Permalink 08:51:13 pm, by Melba
Categories: Culture

Traditional Jamaican Christmas Ham

One of the highlights of Christmas in Jamaica is Christmas dinner. This is the one time of the year when all family members are expected to get together at the house of the head of the family usually after Christmas service. The menu will vary with each family usually including most Jamaican favourites such as baked chicken, roast port, curry goat, or oxtail. However Christmas dinner is not complete without the traditional Christmas ham. With that there must also be rice and gungo peas, sorrel drink and Christmas cake or Christmas pudding for desert.

Follow up:

Baked ham was a traditional Christmas dish that started during the days of slavery. The ham was then cured in a large bucket called kreng-kreng. It was smoked over a slow fire using lots of pimento to spice up the meat which was then scarce. Cured ham remains a major part of the Christmas dinner in Jamaica today. Most people however simple purchase a commercial ham already cured from the supermarket. Some persons still prefer to cure the pork themselves at home.
Commercially this is now done by mixing several ingredients such as sodium tripoliphosphate, zesty spice, salt and sugar, among others, to form a solution. A meat pump or syringe is then used to inject the mixture into the muscle tissues and joints of the pork leg or shoulder. It is then placed in the cooling section of the refrigerator for 12 hours. Afterwards, it is cooked for 12 hours in a smoke house.
At home the mixture is made of brown sugar, salt petre or nitre, powdered nutmeg mace and grated nutmeg. The mixture is then divided into 3 parts. The first third is rubbed into the meat until it dissolved. The meat is then wrapped in brown paper and place it in the refrigerator for four days. After the fourth day the second third of mixture is added and the meat once again left for another four days in the refrigerator wrapped in brown paper. The final portion of mixture is then added and this time the meat is left for a further 20 days (each pound of meat is left two days). When ready to cook, the ham must be washed and left to soak in cold water overnight. Some individuals who cure their own ham at home use a gadget which is designed to smoke meat after adding all the mixture.
The cured ham is then baked for several hours (15 minutes for each pound). Before it is completely baked the skin is removed and cloves are added. The ham is then based with a dressing of your choice and garnished with pineapple slices and cherries.
Rice and peas is a favourite with most Jamaicans. Throughout the year, red peas are cooked with the rice, but gungo peas which ripens in December are substituted during the Christmas season. Gungo peas may also be made into soup, oftentimes with the bone left over from the Christmas ham. Of course a Jamaican Christmas meal is never complete without sorrel drink and Christmas cake or Christmas pudding.
I hope you all plan to be with your families for this Christmas dinner. I know there is no other place I would rather be. And in the spirit of Christmas don’t forget to invite that friend or acquaintance with no family to be with.
Nuff Love

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Reasons why I love my Jamaican Mom

1. My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait till we get home."

2. My Mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You going get a ass'n when we get home!"

3. My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE.
"What di backside yu thinkin'? Answer me when me talk to you...Don't talk back to me!"

4. My Mother taught me CONSEQUENCES.
"If yu run cross de road an' cyar lick yu dung, a goin' kill yu wid lick."

5. My Mother taught me THE VALUE OF EDUCATION.
"If yu no go a school, yu a go tun tief or walk an' pick up bottle."

6. My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If yu tun over yu eye lid an fly pitch pan it, it a go stay so fi evva."

7. My Mother taught me to THINK AHEAD.
"Is not one time monkey goin' wan' wife"

8. My Mother taught me ESP.
"Yu tink a don't know what yu up to nuh?"

9. My Mother taught me HUMOR.
"If yu don' eat food, breeze goin' blow yu 'way."

10. My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT.
"Come an' tek yu beatin' like man."

11. My Mother taught me about SEX.
"Yu tink say yu drop from sky?"

12. My Mother taught me about GENETICS.
"Yu jus' like yu faada."

13. My Mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Yu tink mi come from "Back A Wall?"

14. My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE.
"When yu get to be as ol' as me, yu wi understan'."

15. And my all time favorite... JUSTICE.
"One day wen yu have pickney, a hope dem treat yu same way."

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