17-pound Fresh, Bone-in, Uncured Ham

—or, the best pork roast you’ll ever eat. Submitted by Scott Denham

  • buy the biggest ham you can get from Grateful Growers, 15-20 pounds. (but smaller works, too)
  • use at least a half a bottle of cognac or calvados or something similar like grappa or slivovitz, from fruit, not grain (but you could also use port or a big red wine like Zinfandel or a burgundy)
  • some fruity things like dried cranberries, apricots, raisins (couple of handfuls total)
  • some juice: apple cider, pure cranberry, pomegranate (a pint maybe? Depends on the size of the pot.)
  • some balsamic vinegar (a cup or less)
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice or mace
  • clump of rubbed sage or a couple bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more
  • a huge bowl or pot for marinating
  • a huge roasting pan
  • two days (one for the marinade, one for roasting)

Slice a few gashes in the thick fat on the top, the side that will be up for carving, just but not quite through to the flesh. Make sure your roast fits in the pot or bowl and can be covered. Add everything else to the pot, adding juice or a little water at the end to cover the meat. Let this marinate for a day, down in the basement if that’s a cool spot, or on the screen porch in the winter (since it won’t fit in the fridge.) Go and poke at it every now and then, at least once giving it a thorough stabbing with a skewer or a sharp two-tined fork or something similar, to make some holes for the marinade to seep in.

Dinner at 7PM? Begin this part well before 11AM. Put this beast on a rack of some sort if you can, and then on the huge roasting pan. Start with a very hot oven (450 or so) for a half hour or so, then roast in a slow oven (300 max) for the rest of the day, 6-7 hours for 17 pounds. Baste with the marinade. You might need to take it out and pour off some of the fat after a couple hours. If it looks like it’s getting too brown, turn the heat down even more, to 260-280. Put a little crisp on the skin toward the end by turning the heat back up for the last half hour if you need to. Let it rest for half an hour before carving. (Feeds a couple dozen people easily.)

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