Lucky me. On a trip to a friend's farm--Hurricane Farm of Scotland, Connecticut--in October I learned that pigs would led to slaughter near Christmas. Pinky, one of the two fine specimens, would become the centerpiece of my Christmas dinner.
I've never cooked a fresh ham before. Research revealed an optimal internal temperature for a fresh ham at 160 degrees. An Emeril Lagasse recipe suggested a slow roast (325) for two to two and a half hours.
I scored the skin, gave the ham a dry rub, stuck cloves in the scores, packed dark brown sugar all over, and filled the roasting pan with a few cups' worth of Dr. Pepper and Buffalo Trace bourbon. But after two hours, my piggy was at a paltry 120 degrees. It took over three hours for the ham to reach 150; I figured the carry over cooking would bring me to 160.
The ham was dry. Don't get me wrong: the flavor of the pig was truly unparalleled. Unlike cured hams, Pinky was not aggressively salty. The meat was tender and rich and, well, porky. I made a sauce from the jus and cola/bourbon blend, separated in a gravy separator and that hydrated the meat well enough. But I can't figure out what exactly went wrong. It is possible that our oven decreased in temp mid-roast, which it sometimes does and which might be the cause of uneven results.
With Pinky, I served sugar snap peas sauteed in olive oil with lemon and mint, a gruyere/cheddar macaroni and cheese, and homemade butterscotch pudding with bourbon whipped cream. And by homemade, I mean homemade; I made my own butterscotch before mixing it with my puddibg base. Cocktails consisted of my own hot buttered rum (thanks to Caneel Bay for the rum) and the 2002 Flowers 'Andreen-Gale' chardonnay from Sonoma. The pig may have been a little dry, but we finished all six pounds of it. Even my grandmother, who has never before sampled ham, determined that mine was delicious.
I will buy from Hurricane Farm again, but next time I'll research my recipe more thoroughly. For those in the Connecticut area looking for local farm goods, Hurricane sells eggs, maple syrup, turkeys, ducks, and, of course, country hams.
65 Kasacek Road
Scotland, CT 02647