This is the dish that symbolizes Christmas, the centerpiece of the Dominican Christmas feast. There are even Christmas carols that sing its praises.
Traditionally cooked “en puya”, that is crossed with a stick over a rotating base and cooked over coal-fire, here we present you with a recipe that can be prepared using a regular oven.
If you are wondering about the mistery behind this juicy, plump, flavorful dish, look no further than the seasoning that this dish is made with, half dry rub, half marinade.
If you are used to brining your hams, this works in a similar way, only better, as the pockets of seasoning carved into the meat infuses the pork with all its flavors.
Take your time to cook this dish, and impress your guests with it.
This is undoubtedly one of the most cherished traditions in Dominican cuisine, and the "pièce de résistance" at the Christmas dinner table.
I dare to predict that most Dominicans do not cook this at home, but buy it, but there's no doubt in my mind that homemade is always better.
Please keep in mind the type of oven you have. Convection oven (the type I have) cook foods 30% faster than regular ovens, so adjust your timing for it. I strongly advice that you acquire a meat thermometer, as this will guarantee that your pork is cooked safely and to perfection.
- 8 lbs of pork (leg of ham)
- 1 lime
- 1/2 cup of pitted olives
- 1/2 cup of capers
- 1 large onion
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon of parsley finely diced
- 4 tablespoons of oregano
- 2 tablespoons of pepper
- 2 bell peppers diced into small cubes
- 4 tablespoons of fruit vinegar
- 1/4 cup of salt
- Mix in all the ingredients for the seasoning.
- Carve deep holes in the meat on the opposite side of the skin (do not pierce the skin) following the muscle fiber. Keep a distance of about 3 inches between each hole.
- Scrub with the lime, getting the juice into the cuts.
- Using a teaspoon stuff the holes with the seasoning mixture, spread the remaining seasoning on the surface (the side opposite to the skin).
- Let it rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours before cooking (best overnight).
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place on a roast tray with rack, or else the bottom of the roast will just boil in its own juices.
- Roast until the thermometer reaches 71 °C (160 °F), start measuring at 3.5 hrs cooking time with the tip of the thermometer reaching the center of the ham.
- Cook for 4 hours. Turn around and inspect that the juices run clear.