|center cut roast fresh from the freezer|
As I learned early on in pig farming, there's traditionally a lot of work in taking a ham from lean, neutral meat to that state of caramelized, cured succulence. The crucial step, curing and smoking, is nearly impossible for the small farmer to do legally for retail. I'll save the full story of local butchers & smokehouses for another post and say, our hams are fresh (not smoked) and ready to take your culinary direction. To me, this was a daunting discovery. How do you make a ham into a ham when you have to do it all yourself? I did a lot of reading and found two keys: brining and creating a caramel rind. Both are simple if you give the whole project some time. Below is the least confusing and most appetizing recipe I found at Cooks Illustrated.
Roast Fresh Ham
1. Carefully slice the outside of the meat in a cross-hatch pattern with a serrated knife (I used a bread knife).
2. In 1 gallon of water, combine the following:
2 cups salt
1.5 cups packed brown sugar
10 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
5-8 bay leaves
fresh ground black peppercorns
3. Submerge the ham and let soak, refrigerated for 8-24 hours
|the finished product|
2. Remove the ham from the brine, rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and place on roasting pan, rind (or fatty side) up. Massage all over with herb rub, making sure to get it in all those nooks and crannies.
3. Roast in the oven on the lowest rack at 500 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the glaze:
1 cup apple cider
2 cups packed brown sugar
Bring to a boil, simmer 5-7 minutes and let cool.
4. After 20 mins at 500, turn the oven down to 350 and baste the ham with the glaze. Roast for an additional 15 mins/lb and glaze when removed from the oven. It may smoke a little as the glaze caramelizes, just tell your smoke detector to chill out.
5. Carve and enjoy!!