I hadn’t cooked with ham roast before, but we had house guests and a ham sounded like just the thing. Ours was on the small side, between 3 and 4 pounds, bone in. The prep for this adapted Julia Child recipe was easy and the ham and pot juices delivered phenomenal flavor, though some bites had a grainy texture. “It’s probably what ham’s supposed to taste like,” our guests opined, generously pointing out that the meat hadn’t been injected with water or chemicals, thus accounting for the texture. I wondered if there might be a simpler explanation, like that the roast had cooked too long. Next go around I’ll adjust the time down from three hours, which we did based on Julia’s recommendation. Despite the amateur effort, we managed to eat nearly three pounds among four people, along with a mound of sauteed brussel spouts and a salad. When the dust settled, we had a couple slices left to fry up for breakfast, plus the ham bone. Not too bad for a little hunk of meat.

Ham Roast with Madeira

4 lb ham roast / 1 carrot, cut in 1⁄2 inch pieces / half an onion, sliced / 1 tsp chopped thyme / 2 tbls chopped parsley / 2 cups water or stock / 1 cup Madeira / salt & pepper

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut rind off the ham. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy ovenproof pot. Saute carrot and onion pieces until soft and beginning to caramelize, 8-10 minutes. Place ham over vegetables. Add herbs, stock, and Madeira, cover, and place in oven. Roast until meat reaches an internal temperature of 138 degrees, basting with juices from time to time. Shoot for an hour and change for a ham this size. Serves 4 to 6.

Update: After this was posted, the New York Times ran a recipe for a 15-pound holiday ham, which is roasted in moist heat for almost 3 hours then is finished in a hot oven with a baked glaze.

And, British heavyweight Clarissa Dickson Wright recommends cooking ham for 20 minutes per pound, using one of two methods: 1. Boiled for the first two-thirds of cooking time and transferred to a 325 degree oven for the remaining cooking time, or 2. Wrapped in foil and baked at 375 degrees for the whole time.

The Crown ‘S’ ranchers, our purveyors, recommend slow cooking at 200 degrees for “several hours” until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

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