Several days ago, I brined a piece of pork intending to make ham. Then, one night about four days since I started brining the meat, there was nothing else to cook for dinner so I took out the pork, removed it from the brine and decided I’d make hamonado instead.
In the Philippines, “hamonado” refers to a dish cooked liked ham but sweetened with fruit juice — pineapple juice, most often, although other juices may be substituted. Pork hamonado is a popular party dish especially during Christmas and New Year.
Some cooks like to braise the slab of pork in pineapple juice, others bake the meat in the juice. The fancy versions are filled and rolled — the pork is cut and shaped like a jelly roll, spread with filling like a jelly roll then rolled, tied and baked. Here’s how I made my hamonado.
It starts with a good cut of pork and a flavorful brine. Pork butt is meaty but it does not have enough fat to keep the hamonado moist. I used a special cut of pork ribs — perfectly cut into a rectangle. I found it at Unimart and what I could do with it — all the creative possibilities — flashed through my mind.
The brine is not just water and salt. I used unsweetened pineapple juice, rock salt, peppercorns, garlic and onions.
To make the brine, I poured about two cups of juice into a resealable bag (read: Ziploc). I added about 1/3 c. of rock salt. Yes, that much salt. I also threw in 3 cloves of garlic, lightly pounded; a whole onion, quartered; and a teaspoonful of peppercorns. Then, I put the pork inside the bag, sealed the bag and kept the pork in the fridge for four days. I turned the pork over and gave it a massage twice a day.
Then, I baked the pork. I made a bed of sliced onions in a baking dish, placed the pork on top of the onions and threw in a couple of cloves of garlic. I covered the baking dish with foil and baked the pork in a 300F oven for two and a half hours.
After baking, the pork was completely cooked and it has retained all of its juices because it was baked covered at a low temperature.
Next, I peeled off the skin, leaving the layer of fat underneath.
Using a small sharp knife, I scored the fat and inserted a whole clove whether the incisions intersected.
I placed the pork on a clean baking dish (I used my trusty pizza dish) lined with baking paper.
Then, I spread jam liberally on top of the pork — right on the fat layer which I had just scored.
And then, I baked the pork at 450F for about 15 minutes just until the top was nicely browned.
The sugar in the jam caramelized, creating a gold red crust on the layer of pork fat.
I let the pork rest for 30 minutes (if it were a larger piece of meat, I’d let it rest longer), placed it on a chopping board, turned it sideways and pulled out the bones. Twist and pull and the bones come off easily if the meat is very tender.
You can serve the pork whole so that the glaze is undisturbed as it reaches the dinner table. You can slice it right at the dinner table.
But since there were only Speedy and myself, I simplified everything for convenience.
I sliced the pork hamonado, arranged the pork slices on a platter alongside slices of cucumber, tomatoes and onions.
Then, I served the pork hamonado with home baked pandesal.
- Rolled pork loin stuffed with garlic, onion, basil and tomatoes
- Tequila pork loin
- Rolled porkloin with bacon, basil and rosemary
- Pork “morcon”
- Vegetable stuffed beef rolls
For more Holiday food ideas, click here.
Cooking time (duration): about 3 hours, excluding brining time
Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6 (for a kilo of meat)
Meal type: supper