2000s Recipes + Menus

Herb-Braised Ham

Serves8
  • Active time:1 1/2 hr
  • Start to finish:4 1/2 hr
December 2003
When shopping for ham, be aware that smoked pork shoulder is available partially or fully cooked. This will affect the braising time (partially cooked takes about 1 hour longer).

We found that blanching the ham before braising helps eliminate excessive saltiness in both the ham and the broth. Leaving the skin on the ham adds body to the resulting sauce.
  • 1 (11- to 13-lb) bone-in smoked pork shoulder (sometimes called picnic ham)
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 (5-inch) fresh thyme sprigs plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped leaves
  • 6 fresh flat-leaf parsley stems plus 1/4 cup finely chopped leaves
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg, smashed with side of a large heavy knife
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Special equipment:

    a deep 10- to 20-quart pot (such as a stockpot, lobster pot, or canning pot); a wide 7-quart heavy ovenproof pot (if you have an 11-lb ham) or a wide 9- to 10-quart heavy ovenproof pot (if you have a 13-lb ham); an instant-read thermometer (preferably remote digital with probe)
  • Put ham in deep 10- to 20-quart pot and cover with cold water (don't worry if bone sticks out). Bring to a boil, then drain ham.
  • Put oven rack in lower third of oven (remove any other racks) and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well. Cook leeks, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme sprigs, parsley stems, nutmeg, peppercorns, and cloves in 2 tablespoons butter in wide 7- to 10-quart heavy pot (see “special equipment”) over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil, then add ham, skin side down, and water (liquid will not cover ham) and return to a boil.
  • Cover pot tightly with lid or, if ham sticks up over top of pot, with heavy-duty foil. Braise ham in oven 1 hour.
  • Turn ham skin side up and continue to braise in oven, covered, until thermometer inserted into center of ham (do not touch bone) registers 120°F, about 1 hour more (if ham was labeled “fully cooked”), or 160°F, about 2 hours more (if ham was labeled “partially cooked”).
  • While ham braises, mash together flour and remaining 3 tablespoons butter with a fork to make a beurre manié.
  • Transfer ham to a platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 45 minutes.
  • While ham stands, pour braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3-quart saucepan, pressing on and discarding solids, and skim off any fat. Bring braising liquid to a simmer and whisk in beurre maniť 1/2 tablespoon at a time (sauce will become lumpy). Continue to simmer, whisking, until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped thyme and parsley.
  • Remove skin from ham, then slice meat and serve with sauce.
Cooks’ note: Ham can be braised 2 days ahead and cooled in braising liquid, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Skim any fat before reheating ham, in braising liquid, on top of stove.
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