We have detailed several times in the past about how difficult (and expensive) it is to find a good cured smoked ham here in Ecuador. The hams that are available are imported and therefore cost too much and, even if one does foot the cost, they do not have the taste Mary and I crave for holiday dinners. Some time ago Mary set out to solve this problem and learned how to cure/brine a pork leg and I learned how to smoke and glaze the cured meat to create a ham worthy of serving up to guests.
Well, we did it again!
About two weeks ago I went to Portoviejo to buy a half leg of pork (media pierna de cerdo). Mary mixed up the brine mixture and we placed the cooled brine mixture and the ham into a brining bag and arranged a spot in our fridge for the curing ham to sit for eight days.
You might not be able to tell from this photo, but that pot is our large lobster cooking pot and the brine bag and leg of pork is sticking out of the top of the pot! The leg of pork weighed in at about fifteen pounds and promised to produce a great deal of meat.
So, Mary and I started to invite guests to come to our home on Easter Sunday to share in our bounty. In all, we invited four couples to join us and then Mary got busy as the master planner making lists of appetizers, salads, hot dishes, and lots and lots of desserts. For almost a week our little kitchen was a production line preparing and freezing everything that could be done in advance. Our guests also brought along food and drinks to complement the food prepared by Mary.
One quick aside – One of Mary’s specialties for family dinners in Ohio was always a large platter of candied yams. On one of our first trips to the market at Charapotó more than four years ago we purchased some sweet potatoes (called camote in Spanish). Mary baked up these camotes for a dinner. But, when she cut into the baked sweet potatoes she discovered that they had all gone rotten! They were streaked with deep purple and one of them was almost entirely purple inside.
Although she threw those “rotten” camote away, we later learned that local sweet potatoes are naturally purple inside and are really quite tasty. So we were ready for the unusual color when Mary peeled these camote prior to baking them in brown sugar to make candied yams.
Shrimp dip, potato skins, cheese and vegetable trays, crackers, chips, deviled eggs, guacamole, Mary’s special cucumber filled with shrimp and cheese,
and much more filled our dining room table as appetizers by one o’clock when our guests arrived.
Mary’s work and planning came to fruition as she advised everyone about the selections.
It was a beautiful day, so we got our plates filled and then retired to the patio area to eat a meal we called, “appetizers.”
But, what about that ham?
Early Sunday morning I was at work organizing the patio area with chairs and tables and setting up the barbecue smoker. By nine-thirty the coals were getting hot and the smoke chips were soaking, so it was soon time to remove the ham from its briny mix and get it ready to smoke!
I positioned the leg of pork on the left side of the grill
closed the lid and let her smoke away at about 250 degrees for about two and a half hours.
After that I moved the ham into an aluminum platter and began basting the ham with a crushed pineapple glaze Mary whipped up and had cooling in the fridge.
We visited and frolicked in the pool as I made periodic trips to add glaze and keep the fire up to heat.
(Thanks to Laqueta for the above photo)
By five o’clock in the afternoon we knew we had done well when I moved this fully cooked pineapple glazed smoked ham into the kitchen to slice up for dinner.
I know it is bragging, but I do not believe the folks at Honey-Baked Hams ever created a more perfect ham!
The ham was only complimented by the twice-baked potatoes, steamed carrots, candied (purple) yams, sausages, pickled beets, coleslaw, cucumber and onion salad, and potato salad that filled our dinner table for dinner.
(Above photo thanks again to Laqueta!)
Darkness fell across the patio by the time Mary broke out the homemade cookies, jello, fresh fruit, and a huge assortment of homemade candies for dessert!
We were able to send all of our guests home pleasantly stuffed full of food – carrying plate loads of food and desserts for tomorrow!
We were honored to have so many friends join us as we celebrated the glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“He is Risen! Death is conquered, Man is free, Christ has won the victory!”
One other guest visited us to watch the smoking process.
This beautiful parrot’s-beak heliconia opened up Easter morning to further remind us of how blessed we are to live here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!