Serves a Crowd

New Year's Day Fresh Ham

October 13, 2011
Author Notes

It wasn't until I reached legal age that I figured out why New Year's Day dinner in my family always consisted of a huge hunk of protein that went into the oven at about 3 p.m., following an early afternoon "breakfast" of Bloody Marys and scrambled eggs. (I didn't get to sample the Bloody Marys until I was 18. Actually, 17. But who's counting?) At any rate, making a roast remains to this day the easiest way to confront the inevitable family gathering on New Year's Day. The fresh ham requires minimal servicing through the three hours of roasting, allowing ample time to recline on the couch, bathing one's reddened eyes with Visine, attempting to watch football and regretting having ignored all one's resolutions. By the time it's done, you hopefully will have recuperated enough to make some awesome gravy. - wssmom —wssmom

Test Kitchen Notes

Wssmom is right when she says this ham is the perfect thing to make while hanging around on a cold holiday weekend. It's handsome and impressive, and we love the incorporation of roasted garlic into the rub. It turns out that pork fat and flour make a great roux, and the resulting gravy had a beautiful caramel color. Wssmom doesn't call for specific amounts of olive oil or salt and pepper -- we used about 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. We also opted to score the skin, which makes for a lovely presentation. We recommend that you remove the ham from the oven when the internal temperature reads 140 to 150 degrees -- it will cook further as it rests. - A&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Serves 12
  • One 14-16 pound fresh ham
  • one head roasted garlic, pulled apart and cloves mashed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 tablespoons flour
In This Recipe
  1. One hour before you begin, take the fresh ham out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you feel up to it, score the skin into a one-inch diamond pattern.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, mush together the roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil and rub it into the meat.
  3. Take that sullen hunk of protein and place into a roasting pan, with the skin side down, and thrust into the oven. An hour later, turn it skin side up, and every half hour, rouse yourself off the couch and baste with the fat.
  4. About three hours later, the internal temperature should reach 160 degrees. Take it out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. The temperature should eventually reach 170 degrees, which I am informed is the magic temperature for pork. (It supposedly is more tender at that temperature than 160 degrees, they say. Who am I to argue?).
  5. Pour off the fat from the pan into a fat separator, and pour 4 tablespoons back into the pan. (Alternatively, pour off all but four tablespoons fat). Put the roasting pan on the stove, turn up the heat to medium and stir in three tablespoons of flour, four if you like your gravy thick. Cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, a little at a time, and scrape up all those wonderful browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce until thickened. Strain into a saucepan and keep warm. If there's some nice juice in the fat separator, add that.
  6. Summon the Spouse to do the carving, nagging him to keep the slices really thin. Serve with the gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet-and-sour cabbage, and make everyone confess their New Year's resolutions. Don't forget to toast to another great year!
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