Last Thanksgiving I decided to make a fresh ham for the upcoming (at the time) annual Willard Family Christmas gathering. I have to admit that I was nervous! I told everyone my plans and the most common reply was ” Why not just go to Honey Baked Ham and get one. It would be easier.” I was nonplussed about it all; however when I told a couple of my friends whom are accomplished cooks and they gave me a similar reply, that just increased my anxiety! The only thing I knew was this: I picked a recipe from a source that I love and trust, Bon Apetit; I’ve cooked many recipes from them before and the results were always excellent. I took a leap of faith, trusted the recipe and stuck to my guns about making the ham. The ham was a hit and an added bonus was the home made cracklins/pork rinds!
Roasted Fresh Ham with Citrus and Rye
- 1 12-pound fresh ham, cut from the shank end
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 cup kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 whole star anise
- 1/3 cup rye whiskey or bourbon
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter
Using a utility knife or a sharp knife, carefully score skin of ham at 3/4″-1″ intervals in a crosshatch pattern, taking care to cut just through skin and fat, not into the meat.
Whisk sage, 1/4 cup 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 jumbo (2-gallon) resealable plastic bag. Place ham in bag on a large rimmed baking sheet and chill, turning ham every day to ensure even curing, for 4 days.
Remove ham from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Let ham stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Arrange a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500°F. Place ham, shank bone up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Roast ham until skin turns deep golden brown and starts to puff, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F. Carefully add 1 cup water to pan (it may spatter) and roast, rotating pan once, for 1 hour.
Add 2 cups water to pan. Scatter star anise around ham; continue to roast, rotating pan every 45 minutes and adding more water if needed to maintain 1/4″ liquid in bottom of pan, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of ham registers 140°F, 1 1/2-2 hours more. If skin does not crisp within last 30 minutes of cooking, increase heat to 450°F and roast about 5 minutes longer (watch closely).
Transfer ham to a carving board; let rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours (the ham’s internal temperature will increase as it rests to about 150°F). Pour juices from roasting pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup; set juices aside and discard solids in strainer.
Set roasting pan over two burners; add rye. Cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, until rye is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Pour rye through same sieve into the measuring cup with ham juices. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes (this will make skimming the fat from the surface much easier).
Skim fat from surface of juices; discard. Transfer juices (you should have about 1 cup) to a medium saucepan. Add orange juice and broth or 1 cup water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat; stir in butter. Season sauce with salt, if needed. Carve ham. Pass sauce alongside.