Fresh ham is a delicious, cost-effective roast-pork option for a holiday meal. It does take a little more time to cook than a loin or shoulder of pork because it has less marbling, so the meat has a tighter and denser texture.
Your options when purchasing a fresh ham include a whole leg, which can weigh from 8 to 20 pounds (the smaller the pig, the more tender the meat will be). Or the ham can be sectioned in slices or as a steak from the rump end or the shank end. The rump end is leaner and meatier; the shank end is covered with a layer of fat and rind that keeps the meat moist and delicious.
The cut used in this recipe comes from the rump end of the ham.
The meat is best served the same day it is made.
- 1 8 1/2-pound fresh ham, whole or cut from the rump end or shank
- 5 medium cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 cups red or white wine, homemade chicken stock or water
- 1 large (12 ounces) sweet onion, cut into very thin slices
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 ounce sage leaves, minced (3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the ham on a rack inside a large roasting pan. (If using the shank end, use a sharp knife to score the rind/fat layer and place the ham on the rack with the fat side up.) Make 10 slits in the top and insert the 10 half-cloves of garlic. Season all over with the salt and pepper, then cover the top with the sliced onions.
Depending on the size of the roast, plan for 20 to 30 minutes' cooking time per pound, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees; baste every 20 minutes or so. (There will be few juices to baste with during the first hour of cooking).
After 1 hour, add the wine, stock or water to the bottom of the pan, which will make subsequent basting easier and create juices for the gravy.
When the ham has 30 minutes left to cook, scrape the onions down to the bottom of the roasting pan. Combine the molasses, mustard and sage in a liquid measuring cup to form a glaze, then brush it on the meat.
Once the ham is done, transfer it to a large serving platter; discard any string tied around it. Let the meat rest while you make the gravy: Combine the flour and water in a liquid measuring cup to form a slurry.
Place the roasting pan over a burner on the stove top and heat over medium-high heat, or pour the cooking liquid into a medium saucepan (strain out the onions, if desired); heat over medium-high heat until it just comes to a boil. Add the slurry, whisking constantly, both scraping the bottom of the pan and to form a smooth gravy. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Taste; it shouldn't need salt and pepper, but you can adjust as needed.
From chef Ris Lacoste.
Tested by Ris Lacoste.
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