Roast Leg of Pork with Fresh Herbs and Fennel Seeds
- SERVINGS: 12, WITH LEFTOVERS
This behemoth of a cut makes a spectacular holiday roast that won't break anyone's budget. To make carving easier, be sure to ask the butcher to remove the aitch bone (hip bone) and the main leg bone, leaving the shank bone intact. The pork is best when seasoned and refrigerated overnight before roasting, so plan accordingly.
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- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- One 18- to 20-pound whole leg of pork with skin, partially boned, fat trimmed to 1/3 inch
- In a mini food processor, combine the salt, fennel seeds, basil, thyme, garlic, pepper, sage, rosemary and coriander. Process to a paste. Spread one third of the herb paste in the pocket where the hip and leg bones were. Using cotton twine, tie the roast in 5 places to give it a neat shape. With a sharp knife, make 3 dozen slits through the skin and fat all over the top of the roast. Rub the remaining herb paste all over the surface of the roast and into the slits. Refrigerate the roast overnight. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 2 hours before roasting.
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Put the meat on a rack set in a large roasting pan and roast in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the pan around. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and roast the meat for 3 1/2 hours longer, turning the pan again after 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pan one last time and roast the meat for 15 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 145°. If the skin isn't crisp, turn the heat up to 400° for the last 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes; the final temperature will be 150° to 155°. Carve the roast and serve with the degreased pan juices.
A dry, aromatic, spicy-fruity Gewürztraminer will accent the salty, garlicky flavors of the pork. Try those from Mendocino County or Alsace.
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