Springtime, or anytime, is the right time for ham! Historically, it has been an opportunity to slide a presliced, cured piece of piggie into the oven, slathered with congealed glaze out of a packet. But we can do much better than that with Lazy B Farm’s pastured ham from happy pork. Ham comes from the hind leg of the pig and ranges in size from a few pounds to a hefty 10-12 pounds, perfect for an Easter or Christmas crowd, or really anytime! Unlike the grocery store hams, wrapped in foil, our uncured ham does need to be cooked through, not just warmed and glazed.

The best way to start, if time permits, is to brine the ham which makes for a tender, moist dinner. It also adds a bit of the saltiness most of us associate with cured ham. Brine is simply a combination of salt dissolved in water. I add sugar for pork brine, while others include additional herbs. It’s your call – go wild! The basic ratio is 4 T. kosher salt and 2 T. sugar per quart (4 cups) of water. Plan on about 24 hours of brine time per 2 lbs of ham. I left my 3 lb. bone-in ham to brine in the fridge for 36 hours. You’re going to want enough brine to fully submerge the ham so the needed amount will depend on the size of the ham and the size of your “brining vessel” (pot/bowl/Tupperware).

When you’re ready to bake the ham, remove from brine, rinse and pat dry. Then salt and pepper liberally before placing on a rack in a roasting pan. We’re going to cook it low and slow then baste with glaze in the last 30 minutes. Baking time is estimated at 15-20 minutes per pound.

While the ham bakes, melt 2 T. butter in a small saucepan and add 2 T. Dijon mustard and a ¼ c. maple syrup with. When the ham reaches 140 degrees F (see the Tool of the Week) brush the glaze on generously and remove the foil. Repeat a couple times, every 5 minutes until the internal temperature is around 150 degrees, then remove from oven. Just like all cooked meats, it is best to let the ham rest for about 10 minutes before slicing against the grain for max tenderness and serving.

Tool of the Week

My very best tip is… using a high-quality digital Instant-Read Thermometer. My musician husband refers to my thermometer as the “auto-tune of the cooking world”. It turns out that the difference between meat with the texture of shoe leather and a moist, delectable cut is due in large part to the internal temperature. Undercook your whole chicken and while that first slice of breast looks perfect, the fifth slice is scary pink and don’t even think about the dark meat. At that point, all the juices have run out of the bird and sticking it back into the oven will yield sad, dry dinner. My status as a home cook clicked up several notches when I invested in a high quality Thermapen. It was not a small investment, but after buying, using, and breaking (or, um, melting) a half dozen $10-20 thermometers in the past several years I took the plunge and I don’t regret it a bit. Cooking is a significant commitment of time and money and paying for the right tools makes that commitment well worth it when it comes to a delicious dinner. Good digital instant read thermometers provide a reliable temperature reading in 1-2 seconds and are sturdy enough to survive a short fall. If you’re not ready to take the financial plunge yet, there are loads of options on Amazon that will certainly get the job done. This is especially true if you have no teenage dishwashers at your house who throw devices with a digital readout into the Heavy Duty dishwasher load (ahem).

Fresh Ham

2-3 lb bone-in, fresh ham

½ c. kosher salt

¼ c. table sugar

Salt and pepper

2 T. butter

2 T. Dijon mustard

¼ c. maple syrup or brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

  1. Boil kosher salt and sugar together with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place thawed fresh ham into lidded container and cover with 6 cups of cool water. Add boiled brine.
  3. Refrigerate ham in brine for 24-36 hours (longer if a larger ham).
  4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the ham in cool water and pat dry. Then salt and pepper ham liberally on both sides and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in the oven, loosely covered by foil.
  5. While the ham bakes, prepare the glaze by melting the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the mustard, maple syrup and paprika and stir. Set aside.
  6. After the internal temperature, measured near the center (but not touching the bone), reaches 140 it is time to baste. Baste generously with the mustard-maple glaze then recover and repeat after 10 minutes, checking the internal temperature again.
  7. When the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, remove from oven. Permit to rest for 15 minutes before slicing against the grain and serving.
  8. Enjoy!

_____________________________________________________________________

Hi, I’m Kjesti Easton, an enthusiastic home cook. I live on a small homestead in Madison, GA with my three hungry sons, husband, a few dozen hens and a garden. While there are plenty of chores outside, I find most enjoyment in the indoor, air-conditioned pursuits – knitting, sewing, baking, and cooking. Almost nothing makes me happier than sharing recipes, food and kitchen knowledge with others.