Merry Christmas!

Our biggest celebration takes place on Christmas Eve or Noche Buena, as known in the Hispanic culture. There is a big dinner complete with slow-roasted pork, yucca, arroz con gandules and coquito. I was so busy running around prepping for dinner (which ended up being at 9pm!) that I regrettably have no pictures of last night. Also, the linked recipes are not the ones we used last night but it’s just to give you an idea of what each dish is like.

I was in charge of bringing the ham (for those who wouldn’t eat pork) and I headed out yesterday morning to Publix to buy fresh ham. I figured that with 2 pork shoulders my dad was grilling, a smaller ham would work just fine. I found a 10 lb. fresh shank that looked decent to my untrained eye (yes, my mom asked me to bring a ham for 20 people and I’ve never cooked a ham before) and grabbed a bottle of cola for cooking the ham.

Exhibit #1: Coca cola for seasoning the ham

Exhibit #2: 10 lb. shank 

After reading a few simple directions, I figured out that I needed to preheat the oven to 350F and add flour to the oven bag (to avoid bursting) before putting the shank inside the bag and closing it with a nylon tie. I took the liberty of rinsing the shank because it was looking really bloody and gross and I just have this thing where I have to rinse my meats before cooking them.

Exhibit #3: Roasting pan, oven bags, and coca cola
Exhibit #4: 1 tbsp. of flour added to oven bag to avoid bursting

Finally, I had my dear husband help me out by holding the bag open while I took the shank and stuffed it inside, making sure the bag stayed inside the pan. The last step was pouring in almost the entire liter of cola, sealing the bag with a nylon tie and cutting several 1/2 inch slits to let steam escape during cooking.

Exhibit #5: In the oven, ready to cook
Exhibit #6: Cooking at 325F
Exhibit #7: Roasting the shank for 5 hours

The funny part is that after the 5 hours passed and the smell of roasting meat was wafting throughout the house, I went to open the oven and there was the ham in all its glory. But as I was cutting it open to check if it was ready, I realized it wasn’t ham. It was a pork loin! I really don’t know what to say other than clearly, I had no idea what I was doing. Everyone at dinner last night wouldn’t have known but I went ahead and shared my embarrassing story and had some good laughs. Note to self – when in doubt, call my mother.

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