This is a huge piece of meat that is simple to prepare and inevitably leads to applause and awe. A fresh ham weighing in at north of 15 pound yields the variety of doneness needed for a big party of eaters: well-done white meat, pink slices for the medium-rare crowd, and crispy fat and dark-meat bits from the shank for those who like to snack. If there are leftovers the next day, carve the rest of the meat from the bone and make yourself a phenomenal ham sandwich. Then use the bones for stock and soup!
16-to-18-pound fresh ham
tablespoons kosher salt
tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
tablespoons fresh thyme (from 14 to 16 stems)
cups plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Trim skin and excess fat from ham, leaving a layer of fat. Score ham all over in a diamond pattern of 1/2-inch-deep cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart.
- In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and thyme, pinching and sifting mixture until thyme becomes fragrant. Pat mixture all over ham and into crevices.
- Place ham fat-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan and roast uncovered for 1/2 an hour. Turn heat down to 350 degrees, pour 2 cups wine and 1/2 cup water into pan and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Continue to roast, basting every hour. Add water to pan, if necessary, to keep pan juices from scorching; bake until a meat thermometer pressed into thickest part of ham reads 155 degrees, about 3 1/2 hours.
- Let ham stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Pour pan juices and remaining 2 tablespoons wine into a small saucepan and simmer about 2 minutes. Turn off flame, add half-and-half, and serve with ham.
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