Serves a Crowd

New Year's Day Fresh Ham

October 13, 2011
8 Ratings
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!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tory Nettleton
    Tory Nettleton
  • lapadia
  • EmilyC
  • Bevi
  • blanka.n

60 Reviews

Elizabeth S. November 17, 2017
In 1969, we were stationed in Crete, Greece with the USAF. A fried, a young meat cutter on base, told us to try making a fresh ham (plentiful on the Greek economy then)..when I asked how, he suggested, bone in ham, fresh parmesan cheese, fresh garlic cloves inserted into slits in the ham, fresh parsley, and basting the ham frequently with the meat juices and SHERRY. OMG! Our kids still request this meal for the holidays! It is very similar to this recipe, just add the parsley,sherry and parmesan :-)
Tory N. December 15, 2015
this article popped up a few weeks ago with perfect timing. i have to cook for 25 people in a rental kitchen this saturday. 2 questions: if i can (key word) fit two hams in the oven at the same time, do i need to add any cooking time? and do you happen to know the best place to buy ham in nyc? i've never really had to think of that one before. thanks!
George February 9, 2014
It is hard to find "fresh ham" are most of you going to butchers for this? It is getting harder and harder to find a butcher. What is a ballpark range of price per pound that on would expect to pay?
Chef G. December 23, 2019
I just purchased a 12 pound fresh ham from Shoprite for $22 dollars (it was the butt half of a 24 lb whole ham). This has been my favorite Christmas dinner for years. I bake it with herbs and garlic and pepper. Don't like sweet sauces - just plain good savory fresh ham.
Emily L. December 23, 2013
Hi just wanted to check about the cut of ham. This is without the bone, yes? If I were to order it over the phone from my local butcher, I would be asking for .... ?? Many thanks.
kat-o April 6, 2013
This recipe introduced me to food52 two years ago on, of course, new year's day. Trying to top a fantastic Christmas beef tenderloin, I wanted to kick up the new year's fresh ham. Made this and it was a HUGE hit. Made it again this past new years and just as awesome. You made my all time favorite cut of meat even more delicious. Thanks!
ColoradoCook May 20, 2012
Very belated comment as I tried this out for a special dinner a couple of months ago. I will, truly, never buy a pre-cooked ham again. This was so much more than the sum of its parts, and so easy. I have repeated the technique with a bone-in pork loin as well, to excellent results. Thank you for the inspiration!
lapadia October 28, 2011
Contrats on being a finalist runner-up, wssmom! I have never made a fresh ham before and I will be trying your recipe this holiday season, sometime, will check back :). Printed out the recipe!
Author Comment
wssmom October 28, 2011
Thanks so much Lapadia! I do hope you enjoy it as much as we do ...
EmilyC October 26, 2011
Congrats again, wssmom! You're sure to inspire a lot of people to try roasting a fresh ham (including me!).
Author Comment
wssmom October 28, 2011
It's so worth it, plus the leftovers make great sandwiches!
Bevi October 26, 2011
Congrats on being the contest finalist, wssmom. I look forward.....
Author Comment
wssmom October 28, 2011
Thanks, Bevi. Such a thrill!
blanka.n October 23, 2011
I love this recipe for so many reasons. I cook fresh ham a lot. I've run out of creative ways to make it.
I think this one may become one of my favorites. Garlic and pork? What can go wrong??????
Author Comment
wssmom October 23, 2011
Thanks so much blanka. n! You are so right - garlic and pork are awesome together!
Kitchen B. October 22, 2011
I've never cooked a fresh ham, before, eaten plenty but never stood at the helm. I love the headnotes. Congratulations
Author Comment
wssmom October 23, 2011
I hope you get a chance to stand at the helm! Thanks!
wewhine October 21, 2011
All I can say Wssmom is you sound like someone who sure likes to (fresh) ham it up. Since I've always been a (fresh) ham, this sounds absolutely divine! And I'm sure it's so much more flavorful than a cured ham! Happy New New Year!
Author Comment
wssmom October 21, 2011
wow i guess you really liked it!! thanks!
wewhine October 21, 2011
All I can say Wssmom is you sound like someone who sure likes to (fresh) ham it up. Since I've always been a (fresh) ham, this sounds absolutely divine! And I'm sure it's so much more flavorful than a cured ham! Happy New New Year!
wewhine October 21, 2011
All I can say Wssmom is you sound like someone who sure likes to (fresh) ham it up. Since I've always been a (fresh) ham, this sounds absolutely divine! And I'm sure it's so much more flavorful than a cured ham! Happy New New Year!
Lizthechef October 21, 2011
We always do roast pork for Pennsylvania Dutch good luck all year long. A ham works for me!
Author Comment
wssmom October 21, 2011
fresh ham = uncured pork!
EmilyC October 21, 2011
I've always wanted to try a fresh ham -- and now I will! What a fabulous recipe. Congrats!
Author Comment
wssmom October 21, 2011
Not too different from roast pork, but it makes an awesome presentation and a great gravy!
Idis October 21, 2011
Yes! finally I can make fresh ham and not that ready sliced ham for the holidays... Sounds super easy and delicioso!
Author Comment
wssmom October 21, 2011
HisChef October 20, 2011
I can't wait until NewYears! I'm going to get my ham tomorrow to cook for Sunday dinner! I have Rosemary & Thyme growing in my garden and love the combination with poultry. Never thought about using a mortar (which I will also purchase tomorrow) to make a rub....
Author Comment
wssmom October 20, 2011
Using a mortar is a great way to relax1
gingerroot October 20, 2011
Congratulations, wssmom! Now that you mention it, growing up we always had ham on New Year's day and yours looks delicious.
Author Comment
wssmom October 20, 2011
Thanks so much gingerroot!
SKK October 20, 2011
With your impeccable logic, I now understand the purpose of New Year's Day dinner! This recipe is amazing.
Author Comment
wssmom October 20, 2011
LOL thanks SKK, there is a method to my madness!