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Of course my favorite thing about the holiday season is the food. Growing up, one essential treat my mother always made was pan de jamón. Of course while she was here over the holidays, I asked her to make it and actually made a loaf with my Dad one night.

Pan de jamón (Ham bread) is always served during the Venezuelan Christmas as well as hallaca (Venezuelan version of a tamale) and dulce de lechoza (a dessert made from papaya). I remember one year we went back to Venezuela during the holidays and all the women were in the kitchen making hallacas and pan de jamón. Watching my abuela (who is ALWAYS in the kitchen), tias, and primas stand around exchanging stories and making these two dishes is a fond memory.

My mom says pan de jamón was brought over from the Europeans but upon doing some internet research, most sources said it originated in an a Caracas bakery. Either way it is delicious and essential to my holiday meal.

This is a quick and easy appetizer you can add to your holiday meal or bring to your holiday party.

Ingredients:
1 tube Pillsbury French loaf
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 pound Ham, thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pimento stuffed (Spanish) olives, sliced
4-6 Swiss Cheese slices

Directions:
Preheat oven according to package.

Roll out the dough and brush the inside with some of the egg.

Lay the slices of ham around so it covers a majority of the dough. Add swiss cheese on top of ham. Sprinkle olives and raisins on top.

Begin rolling the dough on one side until it meets the other side. When it sliced, it will look like a swirl. Take up the ends of the dough and close it off. Brush the outside of the dough with the remaining beaten egg.

Cook dough according to package directions about 25 minutes.

Food for Thought:
-Traditionally a sugar glaze is added to the outside of the bread to sweeten and provide shine. My family prefers a more savory style.
-Feel free to add more olives or raisins. I am not a fan of raisins so I generally put less. When I was a little girl my mom would make a half the loaf with raisins and the other half without.
-Traditionally, the bread consists of ham, raisins, and green olives but my family added swiss cheese as a main ingredient years ago. Through the years, bacon has become a popular addition.
-You can make your own dough, which is what my mom did growing up but these days she goes the easy route and buys pre-made dough.

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