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Fresh ham for Christmas, serving 34 guests…

December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013Every Christmas, my mother painstakingly cooks and bakes for our rather large family, which, at its core, consists of 17 adults and 11 children. This year, we added a few more out-of-town guests and moved the party to my house, making it a whopping 34 guests. The typical menu includes our Italian favorites of homemade ravioli stuffed with riccota, braciole, meatballs, homemade pasta and a meat, either a fresh ham or a roast.

Normally, I would go to my local grocery store and order, in advance, a 16-18 pound fresh ham. I would ask for it to be de-boned and de-skinned, but to include both the bone and the skin so I could use it for the recipe. This year, I bought a 19-pound bone-in fresh ham from a local, grass-fed, humane farm  called Seventh Heaven. And while it was almost double the price, the flavor was well worth it.

I brought it home on the 20th frozen and vacuum sealed and just kept it in the fridge to defrost. Because of the fact that there are no harsh chemicals in the meat, it defrosts much quicker than conventional meat, so it wasn’t necessary to leave it out.

On the 24th, I cut it out of the plastic, cut off the skin from the top of the ham, put the skin aside. Then I stuffed it with a whole head of garlic, added olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper and fresh thyme from my garden. I rubbed it in and replaced the skin on top. Put the roast in a roasting pan, wrapped it up and put it back in the fridge. Dinner was set for 5pm, so I began by searing the ham—uncovered—at 425F for 30 minutes. Then I dropped the temperature down to 350F and baked the ham for another 4 hours and 30 minutes (which comes out to roughly 15 minutes per pound. I actually shaved off an extra 15 minutes because my oven cooks a bit faster). At 4pm, I pulled the ham out and the internal temperature was about 165F. My mother said it was perfect, but if I ever cook it again at that weight, I would shave off another 15 minutes. My husband carved the meat and plated it and along with the other meats and ravioli, it was on the table by 5pm,  served with its own juice on the side. The flavor was perfect.

Here’s the quickie recipe:

Day before cooking:

  • Cut skin off of ham and put aside (you will need to use the skin for cooking)
  • Peel a whole head of garlic and separate cloves; make holes throughout ham and stuff with  with cloves.
  • Drizzle the top with olive oil, and the dress with fresh sprigs of rosemary, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Rub into the meat.
  • Re-cover the top with the skin and place in fridge until next day.

Day of:

  • In order to serve this meat for dinner at 5pm, begin cooking at 11am.
  • Heat oven to 425F
  • Place ham in baking dish
  • Sear the ham—uncovered—at 425F for 30 minutes.
  • Drop the temperature down to 350F and baked the ham for another 4 hours and 30 minutes (this roughly works out to 15 minutes per pound).
  • Check internal temperature. Should be between 140F-165F
  • Take ham out of oven and let it sit for 15 minutes-20 minutes.
  • Carve and serve with juice from bottom of pan.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2013 5:33 pm

    Wowww that’s a lot of people

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