The Joy of the Christmas Table

The Hamilton’s Smokehouse Ham with the sweetness of a pineapple ginger glaze, dressed with pineapple, star fruit and maraschino cherries (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

‘Tis the season to gather — the time to set a welcoming table and return to the tradition of the Jamaican Christmas dinner. At the centre, there will be a Best Dressed Chicken Roaster, presented here, spatchcocked with crispy skin and, of course, Hamilton’s Smokehouse Ham with the added delight of sweet pineapple. Because this is a celebration, there will also be roast beef, lots of sides, and sorrel to toast.

And while this table was created exclusively for Thursday Food, it was in line with the expectations (and memories) of a few people we polled.

My Christmas dinner will have four types of meat: Orange Ginger Glazed Hamilton’s Smokehouse Ham; Herb Roasted Best Dressed Chicken; curry goat; braised oxtail; and rice and peas and potato salad.

— Kieron Burey, marketing coordinator, The Best Dressed Chicken

This year, we’ll be having Best Dressed Chicken Roaster, Hamilton’s Smokehouse Pineapple Glazed Pork Ham, curry goat, roast beef, served with gungo rice and peas, tossed salad, mac and cheese, potato salad and yam salad. My favourite food memory is waking up to the aroma of Christmas cakes and sorrel prepared the night before. Seeing the stuffed chicken in the oven, the coal pots outside with the mannish water and curry goat cooking for the evening feast. The kids wash the vegetables, peel the potatoes, and cut them up for the salad. We would also get involved in preparing the Christmas cakes; we couldn’t wait for Mummy to pour out the batter so we could get the pudding pan to eat what was left inside. Those were the days!

— Karen Grant, import export coordinator, The Best Dressed Chicken

My favourite Christmas memory is the anticipation you feel on Christmas Eve. We’re focusing on making sure everything is perfectly seasoned and timed. Do we have enough dishes? Are there enough plates? We fuss over the details, but at the heart of it, spending time with the people you love is most important.

— Lorraine Kemble, brand manager, The Best Dressed Chicken

The tradition in my family is for my mom to cook Christmas lunch for her co-workers. It’s an act of gratitude that she deeply enjoys. At the heart of it, that’s what Christmas is; — no matter what is on the menu, it’s about giving thanks to the people who help give your life meaning.

— Lackesha Pitter, brand manager, Hamilton’s Smokehouse

Designing Your Christmas Table

The centrepeice

Always start with the centrepiece of your Christmas table if you want it to be truly memorable. Start with a table runner as the foundation and add gorgeous elements to your table arrangement. Add garlands, pine cones and candles for a more classic vibe, and use flowers for a more contemporary appearance.

Coordinate the colours

Select a colour palette for your festive dining table. In a perfect world, it would coordinate with the décor of the room or even the tree. Metallics are trendy because they give a space for coveted shimmer and shine. If you want the traditional look, go for berry reds and deep greens for the full Christmas mood.

Select the right tableware

Make sure each course is served on the appropriate tableware. Use various textures and finishes to provide interest, using a charger or placemat as the base to stack the elements by course. Try out novelty glasses for added interest, or tie a ribbon to the bottom of a wine glass or Champagne flute to give simpler or more traditional glassware a festive edge. With forks to the left, knives to the right, and a dessert spoon and fork at the top, arrange your silverware in dramatic detail. For added refinement, add a napkin with a napkin ring made of twine.

The Best Dressed Chicken Roaster


1/4 cup unsalted butter softened

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)

2 minced garlic cloves

4 1/2 pound whole chicken

1 teaspoon minced thyme


Preheat the oven to 450˚F.

Place butter, salt, pepper, lemon zest, minced thyme, and garlic into a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Set aside.

Turn chicken breast-side down on a clean cutting board. Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone of the chicken.

Turn the chicken over and open the back, so the legs are facing inward.

Place palms over the centre of the breastbone and firmly press down to crack (this will allow the chicken to lay flat).

Using fingers, gently pull the skin away from the meat throughout the chicken. Then carefully and evenly spread half of the butter mixture under the skin of the chicken.

Rub the remaining butter evenly over the entire skin of the chicken.

Tuck wing tips behind the chicken.

Place prepared chicken into a 12″ cast iron skillet, turning the legs inward.

Transfer skillet to a preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 400˚F and continue to roast for 50 to 55 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165˚F when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the leg and the juices run clear.

Remove skillet from the oven and allow the chicken to rest, for about 10 minutes.

Top chicken with thyme leaves.

Hamilton’s Smokehouse Ham with Pineapple Ginger Glaze


1 Hamilton’s smokehouse leg ham or picnic ham

2 tins of pineapple juice

2 cups brown sugar

2 tbsp ginger


A picnic ham is roughly 5-6 lbs. A bone-in-leg ham is approximately 8-12 pounds. Baking time is dependent on weight.

Thaw ham in the refrigerator. Wrap ham in foil and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes per pound.

Once the thermometer inserted reads 145°F or higher, remove the ham from the oven and with steady hands, gently remove the skin and place it aside on a baking tray.

Using a sharp knife, score the ham (making diagonal lines, horizontal and vertical) along the ham’s surface.

Pineapple Ginger Basting Sauce

Combine 1 cup of brown sugar, a handful of cloves, ginger and pineapple juice in a saucepan.

Allow to simmer and reduce over medium heat for roughly 20-30 minutes until thick and syrupy.

Brush the ham with the sauce.

Sprinkle and pack brown sugar on the ham’s entire surface and return it to the oven at 375°F until it has caramelised, roughly 30-45 minutes. Decorate with pineapples slices, star fruit and maraschino cherries.

Remove the ham and let it cool for 20 minutes.

Serve with your choices of condiments — honey mustard, sorrel chutney or pineapple ginger chutney.

Editor’s Note

Win! Win! Win!

The Best Dressed Chicken is giving away a Christmas hamper. Here’s how you can win. Read the article carefully then share your response:


The FIRST answer sent to [email protected] will be gifted with a Christmas hamper.

A Spatchcoked Best Dressed Chicken Roaster. Spatchcocking results in faster cooking times and crispier skin all around. (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

Kieron Burey, marketing coordinator (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

Karen Grant, import export coordinator (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

Lorraine Kemble, brand manager, The Best Dressed Chicken

Lackesha Pitter, brand manager, Hamilton’s Smokehouse.

A Christmas table with texture and surprise at every angle. (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

Traditional sides include mac and cheese, roasted green beans, plantain, rice, and peas. (Photo: TheThe Best Dressed Chicken)

The Jamaican tradition: The Best Dressed Chicken Roaster, Hamilton’s Smokehouse Ham, rice and peas, mac and cheese, plantain and roasted green beans (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

The centrepiece is the focal point of the Christmas table. These artisan wooded trees make an elegant anchor for pine cones, garlands and silver ornaments. (Photo: The Best Dressed Chicken)

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