Chili-Brined Fresh Holiday Ham!

If you have the time and like a little zing with your ham, this recipe is for you–especially if you’re looking for an alternative to the holiday ham that you’ve served up for the past few holidays. This flavorful dish is also perfect for all members of the family. There’s no extreme eating here. Just some extreme quality  from the folks at–plus the bonus of a ham with a wonderfully crackly skin that makes a beautiful presentation. There’s no problem preparing for making this dinner, though. Just remember that the first step is setting up your ham for a 24-hour bath in a breathtaking brine.   [photo via]

  • 4 cup(s) kosher salt
  • 2 cup(s) sugar
  • 6 quart(s) cold water
  • 1 cup(s) black peppercorns, crushed
  • 5 ounce(s) Thai or Serrano chilis, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 8 whole(s) cloves
  • 4 cup(s) ice cubes
  • 1 (18-pound) bone-in fresh ham with skin
  • 2 cup(s) low-sodium chicken broth

     1.  In a large saucepan, combine the salt and sugar with 2 quarts of the water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into a very large pot. Stir in the peppercorns, chilis, and cloves. Add the remaining 4 quarts of water and the ice and stir until the ice has melted and the brine is at room temperature. Add the ham, skin side up; the skin does not have to be submerged. Brine the ham in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

     2.  Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the ham from the brine and brush off the peppercorns and cloves. Set the ham skin side up in a roasting pan and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

     3.  Roast the ham for 1 hour; turn the pan and add 1 cup of water halfway through. Reduce the oven to 300° and roast the ham for 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150°. Transfer the ham to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.

     4.  Strain the pan juices into a saucepan; skim off the fat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cut the skin off the ham and break it into pieces. Thinly slice the meat and serve with the jus and crisp skin.

Yields 10-12 servings, with a total cooking/resting time of 5 hours.
Adjust cooking time accordingly for different sized hams.