It’s not often we serve a large ham, but when we do, it’s nice to make it a bit special, such as this Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns by Molly Stevens. After 11 months of still dealing with all of the pandemic restrictions and social isolating, we took a plunge and had good friends Rosanne and Gary over for dinner.
One of the main changes we made to this recipe was the use of our homemade ham stock in place of chicken or veal stock. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s homemade and not the bland canned or boxed varieties.
After a first course of Cream of Clery and Celery Root Soup, our sides included Carrots with Maple and Cider Vinegar, and Potato Gratin with Bacon, Gruyere and Leeks. The White-Wine Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs was just the right light touch to end the feast.
Ham Braised in Madeira with Rosemary & Peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 heaping Tbsp. green peppercorns, in brine, rinsed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 4 3-inch leafy fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 small or 1 large bay leaf
- 1 cup dry madeira wine
- 1 cup chicken or veal stock, preferably homemade
- 1 6 to 8 lb. bone in ham, fully or partially cooked, preferably shank or rump
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. The aromatics: In a large dutch oven or deep braising pan large enough to hold the ham, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the carrot, onions, and celery. Sauté, stirring a few times, until the vegetables brown on the edges and begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the peppercorns, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf, stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.
3. The braising liquid: Pour in the madeira and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid somewhat. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for another 5 minutes.
4. The braise: Whether you bought a fully cooked or partially cooked (sometimes labeled “ready to cook”) ham will affect the cooking time. Lower the ham into the pot, setting it either flat side down or on its side, whichever fits best. Cover tightly with the lid or heavy duty foil and slide the pot into the lower part of the oven. For a fully cooked ham, braise until fork tender and heated all the way through, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. For a partially cooked ham, braise until the ham is fork tender and an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the ham, closer to 2 1/2 hours. (Be careful that the thermometer does not hit the bone, which will give you a falsely high reading.)
5. The finish: Transfer the ham to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid, and discard the vegetables as they will be too salty. Skim as much fat from the surface of the braising liquid as you can without losing patience. Taste, if the liquid tastes a bit weak, pour it into medium saucepan and simmer to reduce until it tastes like a mild broth, 10 to 15 minutes. If the liquid is already tasty as is, set if over a low burner to keep warm. The sauce will not need any salt, in fact, if you do reduce it, be careful not to go too far, as it can quickly become too salty.
6. Serving: Carve the ham into think slices and serve warm or at room temperature with a bit of the warm sauce spooned over the top.
Recipe from “All About Braising” by Molly Stevens