To bake a whole ham

(Recipe #103, page 101)

After cutting off the foot and tip of a fresh ham from a young pig, rub the ham thoroughly with salt and place it in a small wooden trough. Bring vinegar to a boil with 1 handful of trimmed and minced shallots or onions, 1 handful of tarragon, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of cloves, and 6 bay leaves and pour it boiling over the ham.

Let the ham rest in the marinade for 8 days; if it is only half covered, it must be turned and basted every day. If you want to bake only a small central section, adjust the seasonings proportionately. To cook, set the ham on the stove, rind side uppermost, in half of the marinade and 1–2 quarts of water; boil tightly covered until almost tender.

Pour off all the broth and strain it, place a knob of butter in the baking pan, and either use a sharp knife to cut a criss-cross pattern in the skin and stick a clove in each little square or remove the rind and spread a thick layer of fine zwieback crumbs mixed with nutmeg on the ham; bake uncovered in a hot oven until the ham is completely tender and golden brown, gradually adding the liquor half a cup at a time. In addition, the sides of the ham need to the basted frequently (but carefully), so that the top crust can become quite crisp and not be washed off.

Note: Leftover ham can be used to make ham potatoes or ham turnovers.

Translated by David Green.


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