Jamón a la Piña

Ham with Fresh Pineapple

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Preparation info

  • 20 to 25

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

During the Christmas holidays in Colombia, we typically serve pork dishes. Tamales of all sorts are filled with pork. When serving fresh pork, we prefer the whole hind leg (with bone) and bake it for hours at low temperatures. This yields a very crispy skin and a juicy meat that separates from the bone. The fat can be used to baste the meat while it cooks, and then be removed before eating it if desired. The fresh pineapple compliments the pork perfectly.


  • 1 fresh ham or leg of pork (about 12 pounds; see step 1)
  • 1 cup grated onion
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed

Pineapple Sauce

  • 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple slices in juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, packed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 bay leaves, ground
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime peel
  • ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • flour for the sauce


  1. Buy the whole leg of pork with the bone, fat, and skin included. Ask your butcher to make crisscross cuts, 1 inch apart, on the skin.
  2. Place the pork in a large nonreactive container; add the onion, mustard, garlic, thyme, 3 teaspoons of the salt, pepper, and crushed bay leaves and rub all over the pork leg. Cover and refrigerate until the next day.
  3. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours. Rub with the remaining teaspoon of salt. (If you bought the pork already boned, tie it with twine to hold it together while cooking. A leg with the bone will hold together on its own.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the leg on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour the leftover marinating juices in the bottom of the pan together with 1 cup of water. Roast pork for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the pineapple sauce: Purée all the sauce ingredients except flour in a blender. Transfer to a pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Set aside until needed.
  6. After the pork has roasted for 20 minutes, pour the pineapple sauce over the pork and loosely cover with foil. Continue to roast for 20 minutes per pound, about 4 hours. During cooking, check that the liquids on the bottom of the pan have not started to burn or evaporate and add extra ½ cups of water or stock as needed.
  7. Remove the pork leg when the internal temperature is 160°F to 180°F. Let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  8. To prepare the serving sauce, remove fat from pan drippings. Measure the remaining juices into a small pot and add 1½ teaspoons of flour per cup of liquid. Stir well and cook until thickened.
  9. Serve pork slices with the pan juices and enjoy!