Unlocking Tradition: A Guide to Cooking the Iconic Excelente Christmas Ham

For many Filipino families, Christmas just isn’t complete without Excelente ham on the table. This artisanal ham from the iconic Quiapo, Manila shop is beloved for its deep, woodsy flavor and tender yet firm texture. Made using time-honored curing techniques, Excelente ham represents tradition and quality.

But cooking this special ham can seem intimidating, especially if you’re used to basic supermarket hams Have no fear! In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to cook your Excelente ham to perfection You’ll learn foolproof techniques for oven baking as well as tips for slicing, glazing, pairing sides, and more. Let’s unlock the secrets of Excelente ham so you can impress guests with this festive centerpiece.

Why Excelente Ham is Special

Before we get cooking let’s look at what makes Excelente ham so special

  • Artisanal production: Made in small batches using careful old-world style dry curing rather than mass production.

  • Wood smoking: Gives the ham its distinctive smoky, rustic flavor. You can smell it through the packaging!

  • Minimally processed: Much less sugar added compared to commercial hams. Focused on highlighting pork’s natural umami.

  • Firm yet tender: Thanks to slow curing, the ham has a pleasant chew but is never tough.

  • Melt-in-your-mouth fat: The intramuscular fat has a refined mouthfeel compared to commercial ham.

  • Subtle, clean taste: Flavors like smoke and pork shine thanks to restrained sweetness.

Step-by-Step Oven Baking Method

Oven baking is a foolproof way to cook your Excelente ham and achieve tender, juicy results. Follow these simple steps:

  • Let the ham sit out for 2 hours before cooking so it warms up closer to room temp.

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Place ham cut-side down in a foil-lined baking dish.

  • For bone-in ham, bake 18-24 minutes per pound until 140°F internal temperature.

  • For boneless, bake 10-15 minutes per pound until 135°F internal temperature.

  • In the last 30 minutes, glaze ham every 10 minutes (see glazing tips below).

  • Once done cooking, let rest 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

The low and slow oven heat gently brings out the ham’s complex flavors while keeping it tender. Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.

Must-Try Glazing Suggestions

A sweet and sticky glaze takes Excelente ham’s subtle flavors to the next level. Try these tasty glazes:

  • Honey apricot glaze: Simmer apricot preserves, honey, brown sugar, mustard, and butter then brush on ham.

  • Pineapple brown sugar glaze: Cook pineapple juice, brown sugar, honey, and spices into a thick, sticky glaze.

  • Coca-cola glaze: Boil Coca-cola, brown sugar, mustard, and spices down to a syrupy glaze.

  • Marmalade glaze: Heat orange or other fruit marmalade with spices for a tangy glaze.

Apply glaze during the last 30 minutes of cooking so it caramelizes but doesn’t burn. Spoon extra glaze over slices for even more flavor!

Slicing and Serving the Ham

After hours of slow cooking, it’s finally time to dig into that incredible Excelente ham! Here are some serving tips:

  • Let ham rest at least 15-20 minutes before slicing so juices redistribute.

  • Use a sharp knife to slice across the grain for tender, thin slices.

  • Arrange slices neatly on a platter and garnish with pineapple, maraschino cherries or fresh herbs.

  • Offer a bowl of extra glaze for guests to drizzle over their ham if desired.

  • Pair with classic side dishes like garlic mashed potatoes, baked mac and cheese, biscuits, etc.

  • Send guests home with leftover ham slices and glaze so they can enjoy Excelente flavor all week long!

Proper slicing and plating does your ham justice after all the love put into cooking it. Now relax and soak up the Christmas spirit!

Alternative Cooking Methods

While oven baking is foolproof, you can also try these cooking methods:

  • Grill: Get smoky flavor by grilling over indirect heat, glazing during last 10 minutes.

  • Slow cooker: Cook on low 6-8 hours until tender. Great for set-it-and-forget it ease.

  • Stovetop: Brown ham in a skillet before adding liquid and simmering covered on low heat.

  • Sous vide: Cook 1-2 hours in 135°F water bath for precise, moist results.

No matter which technique you use, adhere to recipe cook times and always verify internal temperature for food safety.

With its deep, refined flavor and tender texture, Excelente ham is the ultimate star of any Filipino holiday table. Now that you’re armed with expert cooking tips, you can continue the cherished tradition of enjoying this specialty artisanal ham. Bring comfort and nostalgia to your next Christmas celebration with juicy, glazed Excelente ham made right in your own kitchen. Maligayang Pasko!



What is the best way to cook a precooked ham?

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the ham on a rack in a large baking pan and add about 1/4- to 1/2 inch of water to the pan. If the ham is labeled “fully cooked” (does not require heating), heat it in the oven for about 10 minutes per pound, or to an internal temperature of 140 F.

How do you heat up a precooked ham without drying it out?

Reheating ham via skillet is an easy way to get a few slices nice and hot in a flash. To reheat ham slices on the stove, add a few slices at a time to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add up to ½ cup of chicken broth to keep the meat moist or opt for a couple of tablespoons of butter or oil to give the ham a nice sear.

How to reheat excelente ham?

The goal is to reheat the ham without drying it out. The best way to do this is to place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan. Add water to the bottom of the pan and cover the whole thing tightly with foil. Bake at 325F for 16-20 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer registers 135F.

What is the best cooking method for ham?

Step 1Preheat oven to 325º. Place ham on a rack set in a roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, score outside of ham in a crosshatch pattern, spacing about 1/2″ apart. Cover with foil and bake until warmed through, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

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