Pan de Jamón
In Venezuela, traditional Christmas bread marries ham, raisins, and olives.
The name pan de jamón (“ham bread”) doesn’t do this Christmas pastry justice. Rather than imagining white bread topped with a piece of ham, picture a cinnamon roll. Swap the sticky glaze and cinnamon filling for a golden egg wash and thin slices of savory ham. Keep the raisins, but ditch the walnuts. Add pimento-stuffed olives. Feeling fancy? Layer in some bacon, too. That’s pan de jamón.
Every Venezuelan knows the aroma of hot, fresh bread, smoky ham, sweet raisins, and salty olives means the holidays have arrived. As soon as early November, commercial bakeries and home cooks start churning out these sweet and savory delights. They spiral the dough around the fillings to form logs, then bake and slice the giant loaf into thick rounds.
Venezuelans enjoy this stuffed bread throughout the holiday season, but there’s sure to be one gracing every dinner table on Christmas Eve. Complete the spread with chicken salad, roast pork, and tamales. Wash it all down with some eggnog, and have yourself a merry Venezuelan Christmas.