Roasted fresh ham is just as tasty as pork loin but is far less expensive, and I highly recommend that pork lovers try it. I also find it to be moister and more tender. Fresh ham takes longer to cook than pork loin, but this just means your house smells even better longer. It is not smoked and is not pink, and should not be thought of for sandwiches alone-though it makes delicious ones. Fresh ham tastes like pork loin, so it's not surprising that it pairs well with many of the same ingredients, such as apples and onions.
In the fall, when you harvest onions and crisp apples, roast them alongside the fresh ham in this wonderful recipe. They will caramelize and pack a powerful flavor wallop. I can't tell you how good this baked ham is. Just know that you'll spend less and gain more when it comes to flavor.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michel Nischan, Dressing Room, Westport, CT.
6 to 8
2 cups (about 10 ounces) blanched whole almonds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
One 7- to 8-pound rump-end fresh ham, trimmed and tied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups freshly pressed apple juice or apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
6 green cardamom pods
1 sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 pounds firm, crisp baking apples such as locally grown Granny Smith, Roxbury Russet, pippin, or Empire, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, stirring once or twice, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside.
3. In a small, dry skillet, toast the coriander seeds, shaking the pan often, for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until the seeds smell like oranges. Immediately pour into a small dish and let cool. When cool, grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder reserved for spices to the consistency of coarse meal. Set aside.
4. Rub the ham with salt and pepper and put in a roasting pan large enough to hold it with enough space for the onion slices and apples. Add the apple juice, cinnamon, and cardamom to the pan and roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near the center of the roast, but not touching the bone, registers 140 degrees F.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and, without removing the ham from the pan, skim as much fat as possible from the juices. Add the onion slices and apples to the pan, return the pan to the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Roast for about 20 minutes longer, or until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F and the onion and apples begin to brown. The ham should bake for 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Do not overcook.
6. Transfer the ham to a cutting board or platter, cover with a clean kitchen towel or tent with aluminum foil to hold in moisture, and let rest for 15 minutes.
7. Transfer the onion and apples to a large bowl. Scrape the bottom and sides of the roasting pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the browned bits and juices and add to the bowl. Toss in the toasted almonds and ground coriander and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and toss gently to distribute evenly.
8. Slice the ham and serve with the onion slices and apples.
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