Chile-Brined Fresh Ham

Butcher Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Francisco likes to brine fresh ham in a chile-spiked liquid. The pork skin turns wonderfully crackly in the oven.Plus: F&W's Pork Cooking Guide More Pork Recipes

Chile-Brined Fresh Ham
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs
10 to 12


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Suggested Pairing

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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