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Nov 21, 2006 12:07 AM

What do I do with an entire fresh ham??

My sister dropped a fresh ham off yesterday and told me to cook it for her Thanksgiving dinner. How should I cook this sucker? Should I brine? No brine? Help!

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  1. First, what cut is it, and how many pounds?

    You could use all kinds of glazes while it is cooking.

    Cranberry, mustard, brown suger cloves, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hummingbird

      A fresh ham is not cured. Ham, strictly speaking, means pork leg. It can be cured or not. A fresh ham is like a huge pork roast.

    2. A classic treatment of this is with a cuban type adobo - made with LOTS of garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and oregano ground together with some a cpl tbsp salt, and lubricated with some vinegar vinegar (or lime juice) and a little olive oil.

      If you get it boned out, and rub some of this inside the leg as well as on the outside its particularly sensational. Marinate for a while and then roast to a normal degree of pork doneness - are we at 160 these days? I might like it a little pinker. If you want a more scientific recipe, just post back and I will dig it up (from Carmen Aboy Valdejuli's Puerto Rican Cookery.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jen kalb

        Yeah, baby! Load up the space between the skin and the meat w/lots of garlic, lime juice and a bottle of mojo creole. Cover and slow-roast at about 200 degrees over night. Mas fina!

      2. First, as to the question of the cut, this is a traditional ham. The entire hind quarter. I thought that glazes were generally used for the "cooking" of hams already cured.....

        Not sure on that, so let me know.

        It's not boned out, but I could do that myself, though I'd rather not since I'm already doing a turkey for work and dressing for another get-together! Since it's a fresh ham, should I treat it like I would any other pork roast?

        5 Replies
        1. re: altond

          I would, but boning it isnt hard and then rolling it with a stuffing inside - or a rub. Mkes it easier to present and slice. The skin is the gr8 part - score it thru to the fat - and u will get many pieces of hard skin when done that will crackle and be delicious.

          1. re: altond

            Yes, fresh ham is the same as any other cut of pork. We've had good success with smoking fresh hams with a spicy rub on the outside. We have an electric smoker so this is very easy. If you'd like more information, let me know.

            I don't think brining would do much for your ham, it has a fair amount of fat on it. It would also take a day or two for brine to penetrate a thick, dense piece of meat.

            1. re: cheryl_h


              Help! I have a 20lb fresh ham (bone and all) and a borrowed electric smoker. I've never smoked anything before. i will take all and any advice. The spicy rub sounds great, as I don't want to end up with a giant smoking tasty pork chop.

              1. re: Wanchalee

                Here's a post that helped me when faced with a 14 lb fresh ham last weekend. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448995 FWIW, I didn't season with more than salt and papper and a little oil, then let it go low and slow overnight.

                Best. Pork. Ever. (And then some!


                Good luck with your 20 lbs. of deliciousness.

            2. re: altond

              not necessary to brine (that will make it hammy and reduce its delicious porkiness) - score the fat and rub with adobo or other herb paste, as discussed above. You dont want to glaze this baby with anything sweet, in my opinion, tho pork does go well with sweet fruit flavors too.

            3. Fresh ham is one of those cuts of meat where I've had good results, just throwing it in the oven with a little H2O in the pan and that's it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ace_Mclean

                Add some sauerkraut, sliced onions and caraway seeds to that pan and you'll have an excellent accompaniment.

                1. re: TongoRad

                  Yes, some white wine (a riesling would be great) and maybe some apple or pear chunks.

              2. My grandmother made this all the time, altho I don't remember too much about how she made it. What I do remember was that she poured boiling coffee (in a pot on the stove on a high boil-not just from the coffee pot)over the ham before she seasoned it.