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Course: Mains
Keyword: Brunch, Country Ham, Easter, Gluten-Free, Make-Ahead, Pork, Southern

Country Ham

ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 days 4 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 18 to 20 servings
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Software

  • 1 country (dry-cured) ham
  • 1 liter Dr. Pepper
  • 1 cup sweet pickle juice, optional

Specialized Hardware

  • Probe thermometer
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 days 4 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 18 to 20 servings

Procedure

  • Unwrap ham and scrub off any surface mold (if you were hanging in a sack for 6 months, you'd have mold too). Carefully remove the hock with a hand saw. If this idea makes you eye your first-aid kit, ask your butcher to do it, but make sure you keep the hock — it's the best friend collard greens ever had.
  • Place the ham in clean cooler and cover with water. (As long as it's not too dirty, you can use what southerners call the "hose pipe"). Stash the cooler in a cool, dry place. If it's summer, throw in some ice. If it's freezing out, keep the cooler inside. Change the water twice a day for two days turning the ham each time.
  • Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • Place ham in a large, disposable turkey-roasting pan and add enough Dr. Pepper to come about halfway up the side of the ham. Add pickle juice if you've got it, and tent completely with heavy-duty foil. Cook for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF and cook another 1 1/2 hours.
  • Turn the ham over, insert an oven-safe thermometer (probe-style is best), and cook until the deepest part of the ham hits 140ºF, another 1 1/2 hours. Your total cooking time should equal approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound.
  • Let the ham rest 30 minutes, then slice paper-thin. Serve with biscuits or soft yeast rolls.
  • Cooks note: Even after soaking, country ham is quite salty, so thin slicing is mandatory. If you're a bacon fan, however, cut a thicker (1/4-inch) slice and fry it up for breakfast.
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