Cook the Book: Molly Stevens’ Roasted Whole Fresh Ham

Roasted Fresh Ham- Headnote Image

We searched high and low for pastured, grass-fed and -finished pork. If you’ve never had pastured, grass-fed and -finished pork, it is truly a revelation. I had grand plans for the hams that came off the whole pig we bought from Frank Silva of Natural Homestead Beef. We were going to cure and smoke them ourselves. Only, when we actually looked into it, we discovered that you need to soak the hams in a bucket full of curing liquid for 30 days in your refrigerator. Do you know how big a 17-pound ham is? Yeah, no way that was going to fit in my fridge without hogging up all of the space inside. So, I needed to cook them fresh and, as it just so happened, I came across this recipe. Perfect. When you make this roasted ham, you’d better be prepared to throw a party because it makes a lot of meat.

What worked: Roasting the meat at a high temperature briefly before going low and slow creates a nice crusty exterior.

What didn’t: So simple and so good. This is true fool-proof cooking.

Suggested tweaks: I swapped in cider for the beer called for in this recipe. I bet hard cider would be really tasty too. You can also substitute your preferred rub for pork and I am sure it would delicious.

Roasted Whole Fresh Ham
From: All About Roasting by Molly Stevens
Spice rub
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika, preferably sweet
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 whole fresh ham
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 oz hard or regular apple cider
  1. Combine the cumin, coriander, and allspice in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool. Tear up the bay leaves and add them to the toasted spices. Grind to a coarse powder. Add to the salt and pepper.
  2. If the pork has a rind, use a razor sharp knife to score the run so the lines are ¾-to-1-inch apart. If the rind has been removed, score the fat being careful not to cut into the meat. Sprinkle rub mixture all over the pork, being sure to season inside the score marks. Arrange the roast on a wire rack set above a roasting pan to catch any drips and refrigerate, preferably uncovered, for 2 to 3 days.
  3. Set the roast skin or fattiest side up. Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before you plan to roast. Position a rack on the lowest or second lowest setting in the oven and heat to 475F.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Pour enough cider into the roasting pan (not over the pork) to cover the bottom by ¼ to ½ inch. Continue to roast, rotating the pan if one side seems to brown more quickly than the other, and adding more cider if the pan dries up, until the juices run clear when you pierce the meat and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers about 145F, about 4 to 4½ hours.
  5. Rest roast for at least 45 minutes up to 2 hours. Scrape drippings from pan and pour into a liquid measuring cup. If the drippings are too salty, add a little water. Set drippings aside and warm before serving.
  6. Carve and serve.


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