Chile-Brined Fresh Ham
4 cups kosher salt
2 cups sugar
6 quarts cold water
1 cup black peppercorns, crushed
5 ounces Thai or serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
8 whole cloves
4 cups ice cubes
One 18-pound, bone-in fresh ham, with skin
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- In a large saucepan, combine the salt and sugar with 2 quarts of the water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into a very large pot. Stir in the peppercorns, chiles and cloves. Add the remaining 4 quarts of water and the ice and stir until the ice has melted and the brine is at room temperature. Add the ham, skin side up; the skin does not have to be submerged. Brine the ham in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the ham from the brine and brush off the peppercorns and cloves. Set the ham skin side up in a roasting pan and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Roast the ham for 1 hour; turn the pan and add 1 cup of water halfway through. Reduce the oven to 300° and roast the ham for 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150°. Transfer the ham to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Strain the pan juices into a saucepan; skim off the fat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cut the skin off of the ham and break it into pieces. Thinly slice the meat and serve with the jus and crisp skin.
Fennel And Potato Gratin
50g/1¾oz butter, plus extra for greasing
3 large bulbs fennel
600g/1lb 6oz large potatoes, peeled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g/1¾oz parmesan cheese, grated (or vegetarian equivalent)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 (180 fan). Butter the serving dish.
- Trim the tops from the fennel and cut each bulb in half through the root, then cut each half lengthways into three wedges. Cut the onions into six wedges too in a similar way.
Cut the potatoes into wedges the same size as the fennel wedges.
- Boil the fennel and onions in a large pan of salted water for about five minutes, then add the potatoes and boil for a further five minutes, or until the potatoes and fennel are just tender. Drain well.
- Put the 50g/1¾oz butter and the garlic in the same large pan set over a low heat until just melted. Return the potatoes and fennel to the butter, toss until coated then tip into the ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until piping hot.