4 lb country ham
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, quartered
1 stalk of celery
1 lb bouquet garni (see below)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 orange rind and juice
1 1/2 cup cider
1 watercress (for garnish)
3 parsley sprigs
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
METHOD: Allow 1/2 to 1 lb. of ham per person, depending on the amount of bone included. If the ham is heavily cured (like Virginia ham) immerse it for 4 hours in cold water and then drain. If lightly cured, cook it without soaking. Put the ham in a large saucepan with the vegetables, water to cover, bouquet garni and peppercorns. Cover and simmer gently 1 1/4 hours for a 2 lb. cut or 30 minutes per pound for cuts over 3 lbs. (20 minutes per pound is enough for large hams over 10 lbs.).
When the ham is cooked, drain it and peel away the skin. This is easily done by carefully lifting corner of skim with a knife and pulling with the fingers. If the ham is very hot, hold skin with a cloth or paper towel. Set ham in a baking pan, fat side upwards.
Combine sugar, mace orange rind and juice to form a paste; spread over ham and pour cider around it. Bake in a moderately hot oven (375øF) for 30 minutes or until golden, basing often.
WATCHPOINT: Wait until the sugar begins to brown on the ham before basting with cider. You need to keep the ham moist. But it's not too difficult to baste the lean part of ham and avoid sugared crust.
Finish the top as follows: if using an electric stove, caramelize the sugar crust by placing under a hot broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crisp and brown. If using a gas stove, heat two metal skewers in the flame until red hot. Take each skewer in turn and hold lightly on the sugar crust to burn decorative lines.
Arrange ham on a platter and if serving hot, let stand in a warm place 15 minutes before serving to make caring easier. If serving cold, allow ham to become completely cold before carving. Garnish with watercress and serve with raisin or Cumberland sauce.
NOTE: Bouquet garni (a bunch of herbs) -- is traditionally made of parsley, thyme and bay leaf (tied together with string if used in liquids which are to be strained). Otherwise herbs should be tied in a piece of cheesecloth for easy removal before serving the dish. If you have no fresh thyme use 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
|You need the BEST Dedicated or Virtual SERVER for LESS money? Just click here|