Venezuelan Ham Bread (Pan de Jamón Venezolano)
We are back at FoodieFoodMood with a ton of recipes we prepared during the holiday season. I didn't do as much as I planned as I also needed a lot of rest. I am officially in my third trimester, so the time for meeting baby is getting closer! We've had a lot of things to do as we are moving to a bigger place at the end of January so it's a very stressful time for me. I was also diagnosed with pregnancy high blood pressure (luckily it hasn't evolved to my worst fear, pre-eclampsia yet) so I'm being extra careful with what I eat and putting special emphasis on rest; I'm lucky enough to have a day job that allowed me to work from home since the pregnancy really is taking its toll on me.
But I won't bother you with the boring details of my pregnancy! Let's better talk about the one thing that brings us closer, food! I was having a rough time during the holidays as it was the first time in 7 years that I didn't travel to visit my family, so was a little bit sad. Was, however, the first Christmas I spent with my husband (the previous 2 went by myself to visit my family), so actually, I did spend the holidays with my family, my new family. I missed a lot the "tamales" that are a Costa Rican tradition and all the activities that we always have as a family, so I brought to the table what I could and we had Venezuelan Ham Bread to munch over the lazy holiday afternoons, and for dinner on Christmas Eve my husband prepared roast gammon with cherries, what a treat! Back at home we also have either turkey or pork roast for dinner on Christmas Eve, so in a way, we had our own traditional Christmas as well.
You may not know that my dad is from Venezuela, and to this day we still have family living there. Venezuela is very close to my heart as we spend the first years of my childhood there and I have nothing but good memories of that time, and since I can remember, we've always had "pan de jamón" during the Christmas time, which is now a time to celebrate both sides of our heritage. One tradition that didn't survive in our family is the "Reyes Magos": on January 6th kids would get even more presents because that is the day that the Wise Men showed up to visit Baby Jesus. We used to do it with my cousin and my aunt when we were in Venezuela, but it is not celebrated in Costa Rica; there it was either "Colacho" (Santa Claus") or Baby Jesus himself bringing the presents, which was very confusing for my 8-year-old mind: how on earth was a newborn travelling all over the world with this old man in this sledge? Wouldn't he be cold? How, just how? I guess that was the beginning of the end of my belief in the magic of Christmas. I think these days kids only believe in Santa, not the Niño Dios (Baby Jesus) anymore.
Tamales were out of the question because of the ingredients: I have given up trying to find corn-based ingredients in this country. The only way to get them is to import them and more often than not the prices are just ridiculous. Besides, it's not only the "masa" that we'd need: we also need to buy pork fat and banana leaves. No way I'll find that here, not even importing them! But Pan de Jamón can be made anywhere: it only needs bacon, ham, olives, raisins (or like I called them the one time we went grocery shopping and completely forgot their name "dehydrated grapes") and bread mix or if you are very talented (I am not!) you can make your own bread mix.
My dad makes this bread in a very traditional way: he prepares the dough very early in advance and let it sit for a while, then he comes back to knead it and let it sit for another while. After that, when the dough is ready, all the family gather around to help with the preparation. I have to say it is one of my favourite traditions, plus it's very delicious!
I went a little overboard with the ingredients and had a lot of leftovers, after all, we are only two at the moment and my husband is one of those people who uses food as fuel and nothing more, I have to learn so much from him! To me, food is a pleasure and a bonding experience. We decided to use those leftovers to make some delicious pizza bread, so it definitely didn't go to waste. Also, my cat Mozart had a feast: he looks super adorable asking for pieces of ham! Anyway, we made only 2 small pieces of bread which were enough for us, but I'll include all the ingredients we bought in case you have a large family and can make enough bread with no fear of waste. It was my first time making Pan de Jamón by myself, so I am satisfied with the end result, even though I cheated a little bit with the bread mix but baking is a skill that I am still working on mastering. The recipe calls for smoked bacon and smoked ham; we couldn't find any so we bought normal bacon and normal ham and just cooked it a little bit before assembling the bread.
How did you spend your holidays? Do please share with me your family recipes in the comments!
Venezuelan Ham Bread (Pan de Jamón Venezolano)
- 1 kg premade bread dough.
- 1 kg cooked ham.
- 400 grams smoked bacon.
- 200 grams olives with no bone.
Takes , serves 4 loaves.
- In a floured surface, roll out the premade dough.
- Preheat oven 200 C degrees.
- Assemble the bread: add ham, then bacon, then olives and raisins.
- Bake until golden brown (about 30-40 minutes).
- Let it cool for a bit before slicing and enjoy!
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