Canal House Cooking: Easter Ham

A new take on a traditional, holiday dish from the kitchen of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s Canal House.

Canal House Cooking: Easter Ham

Fresh Ham with Madeira Sauce from Canal House

Created by Melissa Hamilton, a renowned food stylist, and Christopher Hirsheimer, an award-winning photographer, Canal House Cooking cookbooks are loved (and much used) for celebrating the everyday practice of simple cooking.

This recipe for Easter ham serves 12, but you could adjust the recipe for a smaller portion. Or make the whole thing and save the leftovers for sandwiches and the foundation of a delicious, traditional split pea soup.

Happy feasting!

An Easter Ham From Canal House
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
A fresh ham is really a leg of pork that hasn?t been cured or smoked. You can either use the front, called a picnic ham, or the boned meaty sirloin half of a hind leg, which will give you prettier slices of meat. We ask our butcher to do the dirty work and remove the bone. We leave the skin on to protect the meat and keep it juicy. Low heat ensures moist meat, so cook it long and slow.
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • ½ nutmeg, grated
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 boned fresh ham, 8?10 pounds, skin intact
  • 1 cup Madeira
  • 1?2 tablespoons arrowroot
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°. Mix together the sage, nutmeg, five-spice powder, and a good seasoning of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub meaty side of ham with the herb and spice mixture. The ham will be a rather untidy, lumpy piece of meat but when you tie it up it will be a neat package. Roll the meat into a compact shape and tie with kitchen string. Put in a roasting pan, skin side up, and cover with a lid or with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven until the meat is very tender, 6?8 hours.
  2. Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 20?30 minutes. Pour the pan juices into a big glass measuring cup or a glass bowl. Use a spoon to remove all the fat.
  3. You should have 2?3 cups of pan juices after you remove the fat. Pour the juices into a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the Madeira. Mix the arrowroot and 3 tablespoons water together in a little bowl. Add to the sauce and stir until it thickens. Add more arrowroot stirred into a little water if the sauce isn?t thick enough. Don?t allow the sauce to come to a boil or else it will thin out. Keep it just under a simmer.
  4. Cut off and discard the skin and all but a thin layer of fat. Slice the meat and serve with the Madeira sauce.


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