Okay, it is not Christmas any more. But, some of us look for presents. Football presents. It is the playoff season and we have seven games left, including the Super Bowl. Millions of us will gather around our big screens, cheering, jeering, and surely eating.

A delicious ham is the ideal centerpiece for these long afternoons. You can bring it out as the game starts, hot and spicy. Slice it as each football quarter goes by. By the end of the game, it may have cooled down enough for sandwiches, so a supply of good bread and better mustard.

This is the ideal party and buffet dish for fans and family. Here pineapple juice, onion, carrots, celery, a Scotch bonnet chili, cinnamon, star anise and all spice are employed to drive the flavor to super heights. Just what we need.

I would say “Go Giants” and “Go Jets” but that will have to wait until next year.

Spiced Pineapple Christmas Ham

Yield: serves 12-15


For the ham:

  • 1 9-pound bone and rolled smoked gammon ham, soaked overnight in loads of water
  • 6 pints pineapple juice
  • 2 onions peeled and quartered
  • 3 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 3 sticks of celery, laved lengthways and widthways
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chili
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 black pepper corns
  • A few good sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

For the glaze:

  • 4 ounces pineapple juice
  • 4 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spices of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves


Find the biggest pot you can in which the ham will fit.

Put the ham in the pot, pour in the pineapple juice and top up with water so that the ham is covered. Add the onions, carrots, celery, the chili, spices and herbs to the pan. Slowly bring the liquid to the boil, removing any scum as it appears until the surface appears clear.

Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to a fast simmer and allow it to bubble away for 1 ¼ hours, topping up the water level regularly to ensure the ham is fully covered at all times, and removing scum from the surface every time you do so. Once the ham is cooked, remove it from the pan very carefully so as not to tear any of the meat. You may find this easier if you let the ham cool a little in the cooking liquor, then allow it to drain and cool in a colander for 10 minutes. Place the ham in a large roasting tin. Very carefully, carve the skin away to reveal the thick layer of white fat – if you’re lucky it will peel away easily – then score the fat so you make loads of slashes all over it, or crossways in both directions to make little diamond shapes if you prefer.

Heat the oven to 475°F.

Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and simmer until reduced to a syrupy glaze that will stick to the ham. Rub the glaze all over the ham and into the corner of each diamond.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until sticky and caramelized.

Leave the ham to rest for 15 minutes if you want to eat it warm, or let it cool completely.

Source: Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings by Gizzi Erskine [Mitchell Beazley, 2016]