I don’t even like ham all that much. But we hosted Grant’s family for Easter, and I wanted to go the traditional route.
Can I just say that I think I’ve been wrong about ham for my entire life? This stuff was amazing. I ordered a fresh 4-ish pound pastured, fresh ham from This Old Farm. We roasted a chicken too, so I didn’t need that big of a ham (and, since I had never prepared ham before, I didn’t want to screw up the entire main course).
I did quite a bit of research upfront because I quickly realized that most fresh ham recipes call for you to cure the ham for at least a few days prior to cooking it. I settled on modifying the epicurious version, which was a very, very good decision. We order a pig twice a year from a local farmer, and I typically just have the butcher grind up the typical ham meat into ground pork (or sausage or brats) because it’s cheaper and because of my aforementioned “eh” attitude towards ham; I can tell you right now that ham will be making regular appearances in our big bulk pork order. Find a local farmer with some fresh ham he/she wants to unload and make this. Soon.
- 1 4-pound fresh ham, bone-in
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (I used my freezer stash)
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 whole star anise (optional)
- 1 tbsp butter
- Using a sharp knife, carefully score skin of ham at one inch intervals in an x pattern, taking care to cut just through skin and fat, not into the meat.
- Whisk sage, salt, orange zest, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Rub salt mixture all over ham. Transfer ham and any excess salt mixture to a big plastic bag. Place ham in the fridge for at least two days, but up to four days.
- Remove ham from bag and let it come to room temperature (at least an hour).
- Arrange a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500°F. Place ham, bone up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Roast ham until skin turns dark brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F. Add 2 cups water to bottom of roasting pan. Scatter star anise around ham; continue to roast, rotating every hour or so until the skin in brown and crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of ham registers 140°F (about 2 hours, depending on the size of your ham). If skin doesn't crisp up, raise the oven temperature to about 450°F for five minutes.
- Remove ham from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. If desired, dump the remaining liquid from the roasting pan to a pan over medium high heat, bring to a low boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, add the butter, and some salt and pepper. Serve the sauce alongside the ham. (I preferred the ham without the sauce, but others liked it.)