With the holiday season upon us, it’s all about entertaining with delicious, impressive dishes. We’ve partnered with Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life to bring you recipes, ideas, and tips inspired by Southern cooking traditions.
For some reason, fresh ham is a foreign notion in the US. We love honey-laced spiral cut hams, cured country hams and city ham that’s sliced thin for sandwiches. But the idea of taking a fresh ham, or the thigh of a pig that hasn’t been cured, and just putting it in the oven is something we have a really hard time wrapping our minds around. I’m urging you to give it a try.
What makes a fresh ham swoon-worthy is the skin, so if you can’t find one with the skin attached, don’t bother. If you do find one wrapped in skin, the trick is to roast it so slow that the layer of fat below the skin renders and bastes the lean meat beneath. The end result will be a moist roast crowned by unbelievably crispy skin.
The knee-jerk thing to do is make a gravy with the ham’s drippings. But, I like to balance rich things with tart things, so rather than pouring creamy gravy over crispy fat, I’ve chosen a warm, sweet and tart vinaigrette to liven things up.