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Roasted Fresh Ham with Pan Sauce or Gravy

Serves 4 to 6

For most of us, the term 'ham' refers to smoked or cured pork. In actuality, it is a cut of the hog's leg and can be found in both fresh and smoked versions. In my opinion, it is the tastiest cut of fresh pork for slow roasting, probably because it contains a good balance of meat and fat, which provides for a flavorful, moist and tender roast. If you are serving a crowd, a whole fresh ham is the perfect choice because they can weigh about ten pounds. For a family dinner or even just two people, look for the smaller cuts of the shank-half of the ham. They are not always available, but ask the butcher to cut one for you. That will still give you plenty of meat with leftovers that are always welcome. Serve this pork roast as is, with a quick pan sauce or with gravy, both of which described are in the notes below.


Preheat oven to 450°. Cut rind off pork, leaving a thin layer of fat. Rub with the mustard, then the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, sage and rosemary. Place on a rack in a medium roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325° and continue to roast, basting occasionally with pan juices until meat reaches an internal temperature of 155°, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove from pan and tent loosely with foil. Let set about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes: Serve as is, or make a quick pan sauce by adding 1 cup dry vermouth and 1/2 cup water to the pan and boil, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan, until slightly reduced. Alternately, you can make an easy and delicious gravy using the pan juices and adding about 1 cup of dry red wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce slightly, scraping up all of the browned bits in the pan. Then, in a small bowl, knead together with your fingers 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons room temperature butter until well combined. Whisk into the juices over medium-high heat until incorporated and thickened.