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Nov 3, 2013 07:36 AM

Mangalitsa pig leg for Thanksgiving

I am planning to mix things up this year and bought a ~25lb rear leg of a local Mangalitsa pig. The farm I bought it from suggested a Cuban style preparation, but that does not seem very Thanksgiving-y to me. I have never cooked anything this big and will have 16 other watering mouths to feed so not inclined to mess it up.

Any suggestions on how to cook this thing are much appreciated. Like how to impart a sage/thyme/rosemary flavor profile, how long to cook it (they suggested 24 hours at ~200 degrees), other things to look out for, or other ideas that will help.


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  1. No advice, but invite me!

    1. I agree with the Low and Slow Roasting technique, as it will give you tender and moist meat consistently from the exterior to the bone.. As far a a recipe is concerned, You could spice things up, but with such a prized roast, I would not season with anything more than Kosher Salt or possibly your favorite spice rub on the exposed meat. If you like crispy skin, research the Chinese preparation where the skin is pricked, covered in Baking Soda and then scalded with boiling water. The result is crispy skin that won't have any chance of cracking anyone's dental work.

      Fresh Ham does not need to be roasted to any higher than 155-160*, unlike the Picnic Shoulder, as there is not as much Connective Tissue to be concerned with. Any higher and you can expect drier and tougher meat. My general rule for low temperature roasting @ 200-225* is 50 minutes per pound in estimating the cooking time. I've also come to find a longer resting period is the key for a superior roast of any kind and I allow for a 2 hour rest inside the oven @ 140*, allowing to rest in the oven is far easier than outside of it. Please note, you can rest the meat for up to 4 hours without any compromise in quality of the roast. This is what large commercial kitchens do. They put their meats in the oven the evening before when they close the kitchen and come back in the morning to check on the roast for temperature The actual time needed to roast will depend some variables on the actual shape of the Ham, the temperature you choose to slow roast at and the accuracy of your oven. At 200-225, you can expect approximately 8-9 minimum, possibly longer at up to 12 hours roasting and a 1-2 hour rest.. Myself, I would plan a minimum of 12 hours, as it is far easier to hold a roast, then to rush it. If it hits temperature sooner than expected, then you just hold and rest. If it does not hit the mark as expected, then you have the 3 additional hows to do so without having to crank up the oven to speed things up and defeat the purpose of the low and slow approach. Some words of caution if you try to roast at less than 200*. Make sure your oven can maintain the temperature you choose. Gas ovens may flame out and not keep the temperature consistent. Electric ovens are far more reliable. The lowest temperature I will roast at is 190*. Roasting at any lower than that has never proven to me the results are noticeably different, or superior to 200-225 and the extra time is least for me.

      With regards to the herbs or any other aromatics you may consider, my experience is that at low roasting temperatures, the aromatics will still be raw...especially if garlic is inserted via slits which is often recommended. If you really want to use the herbs or garlic, then I suggest you remove the meat from the bone, season and roast like a Porchetta, but you will lose the presentation of the Steamship Roast.

      5 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Dean fourunder, that was, once again, an excellent explanation of a terrific technique for slow roasting a specific piece of meat.

        1. re: MGZ


          Once are too kind. Thanks.

        2. re: fourunder

          Wow. It ends up it is only 16lbs, but this is the perfect information I was looking for. Thank you fourunder!

          1. re: ryestraw

            Some other points to note if you research further. We all have different preferences to meat temperature...some like moist and other lean towards drier meat...especially when it comes to pork and the old notions about it. There are other posters, blogs or recipes that may call for far shorter roasting times, but usually they come with a higher roasting temperature of 250 or higher. Again you must consider there may be unknown variables which we cannot account for. My suggestion to you is to give the roast a peek at the 4 and 6 hour marks. When you see the meat pulling back from the end of the bone, then you can start being concerned with checking the temperature. If you have a digital thermometer, then you can pretty much assure yourself of an excellent result...but I rarely use one when cooking pork roasts. I simply look for the meat to shrink and when it looks right, I tug at it and when it pulls right off, it's ready... It's pretty much impossible to overcook with the low and slow method. You'll have at the very least an hour as a cushion once the roast hits 155, before it will hit the higher 160.

            1. re: ryestraw

     to impart a sage/thyme/rosemary flavor profile....

              Giving this a little more thought, I would incorporate the aromatics into a sauce or gravy. Generally, I do not put any aromatics into the bottom of a roasting pan, as I like to pour off the fat renderings for future use. I usually deglaze the pan with wine or stock(already made with vegetables) to release the fond and make the gravy from that. While the gravy is simmering, you can add the aromatics then.