From colonial times until the advent of refrigeration, the process of packing hams in salt, smoking them, then hanging them to dry for up to two years was a way Americans preserved meat. These days, quickly brined “city” hams have all but eclipsed this older, slower country style. Or at least they have in the North. But in the South, people still produce and eat country hams, not for preservation but because they’re powerfully porky and incredibly delicious. Use hams aged six months or less for this recipe. Mold on country ham is not a sign of spoilage. It is a natural effect of the curing and aging process. Serve ham on biscuits if you like. Leftover ham is delicious in scrambled eggs, cheese grits or macaroni and cheese.
1 Three to Six Month Old Bone-In Country Ham (13 to 15 Pounds)
½ Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Dry Mustard
2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Move your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325° F. Using a clean, stiff bristled brush, scrub the ham under cold running water to remove any surface mold. Transfer the ham to a cutting board and trim off the dry meat, skin and all but ¼ inch of fat. Score the fat cap in ½ inch crosshatch pattern (about ¼ inch deep). Transfer the ham to a roasting pan fat side up. Add 1 quart of water and cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for 4 ½ hours until thickest part of the meat registers 140° F. Remove the ham from the oven and throw away the foil. Turn the oven temperature up to 450° F. In a medium size bowl combine the brown sugar, mustard and black pepper. Rub over the top of the ham. Return the ham to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes until glazed. Transfer the ham to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve thin slices and serve. Serves 12