Fresh ham is hard to find…except around New Year’s Day. Northeastern Ohio has a lot of Eastern Europeans, and everyone wants pork and sauerkraut for good luck in the New Year.
I don’t have Eastern European in my background – but my wife does. Me? I came to pork and sauerkraut later in life – as a high schooler, eating knockwursts buried in sauerkraut from the hot dog vendors in downtown Cleveland.The British call this a “leg of pork roast”, which is a better explanation than fresh ham…but I’m going with the American name for now. I think it explains the cut better to my American audience.
I’m cooking half of a leg – pictured is the shank end of the fresh ham. The butt end is boned and in my freezer, waiting to be turned into a boneless roast at some point in the future.
Fresh ham is a lean cut of pork, similar to pork loin. I injection brine the leg roast to season it all the way through, and add some moisture to the lean meat. Even with the brine, it doesn’t have the cured meat taste that makes me think “ham”. This is a pork roast, through and through._
So, why go through all the effort? Because, pork cracklings. There’s nothing better than pork skin, crisped up on the grill in its own pork fat.
The meat isn’t bad, either – like I said, it’s kind of lean, like a pork loin – but it has more fat and connective tissue, so it doesn’t dry out as quickly as the loin. If you like lean pork, try pork leg – you’ll enjoy it.
Recipe: Rotisserie Fresh Ham with Injection Brine
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I use a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9“x13”, or whatever fits your grill. I use an enameled steel roasting pan.)
- Butchers twine
- Instant Read Thermometer
Rotisserie Fresh Ham with Injection Brine recipe. Roast pork from the same cut of meat used to make ham, with a quick injection brine.
- 10-pound bone in half leg of pork (I used the shank end – the whole leg weighed over 20 pounds)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (2 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Score and inject the fresh ham: Stir the brine ingredients in a measuring cup until the salt and sugar dissolve. Score the skin on the leg of pork in a 1 inch diamond pattern. Inject the brine into the pork, poking through the scores in the skin every couple of inches. Push the needle all the way in, then depress the plunger while slowly pulling the needle out, spreading the brine along the puncture.(Try to inject around the bone as best you can – the bone runs close to the surface in a number of places on the roast.) Let the fresh ham rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour to absorb the brine; four to eight hours would be better.
- Spit the fresh ham (and truss it if you can): Before preheating the grill, remove the pork from the refrigerator, and truss the pork roast every 1 1/2 inches if possible. (It was tough trussing the shank end of the pork because it was so tapered – the trussing twine kept slipping off. I looped around the pork from the end of the bone to the wide end of the roast, then tied around the width of the roast, using that center line to help secure the string. Do your best, because the pork will cook more evenly if it is pulled into an even cylinder.) Run the spit next to the the bone, aiming for center mass, and secure the ham to the spit with the spit forks. Let the roast rest at room temperature while the grill pre-heats.
- Set up the grill for indirect medium-low heat: Set your grill up for indirect medium-low heat (300°F), with a drip pan in the center of the grill grate, and preheat for ten minutes. For my Weber Summit, I remove the grates, turn burner #1 and #6 to medium-high, and put my drip pan in the middle of the grill, over the unlit burners.
- Rotisserie the fresh ham: Put the spit on the rotisserie, start it spinning, and center the drip pan under the pork roast. Cook with the lid closed until the pork reaches 110°F in its thickest part, about 2 hours. Increase the heat to indirect high to crisp up the pork skin. (If you have an infrared rotisserie burner, set it to high to help with the browning.) Cook the pork until the skin is crisped and bubbling in spots, and the pork reaches 140°F in its thickest part, about 30 minutes.
- Rest, carve and serve: Remove the spit from the rotisserie, remove the pork roast from the spit, and cut the trussing twine away from the roast. Let the pork rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve.
- Fresh ham can be hard to find…unless you have a really good butcher, where they stock it in their meat case. If you can’t find it, ask your butcher or meat department to order one – they should be able to get fresh ham without too much trouble.
- Why injection brine? I don’t want the pork skin absorbing water, making it harder to crisp up into cracklings. Injecting the brine puts it where I want it, in the meat, and leaves the skin to dry out and get all crunchy and delicious.
- Drip pan potatoes in pork fat are amazing. You must try them. Must, I tell you!
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Rotisserie Pork Shoulder with South Carolina Mustard Sauce
Rotisserie Barbecued Pork Belly
Rotisserie Stuffed Pork Loin with Pepperoni, Provolone and Capicola
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.|
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
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