- 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.
Though this might seem like a red-wine dish, this ham tastes great with a full-bodied white, such as Chenin Blanc, which often has a slight edge of sweetness that makes it a good match for lightly spicy foods.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.