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Balsamic-Glazed Ham with Parsley-Cornichon Gremolata

Since ham has a very rich flavor and a lot of salt, an accompanying sauce that offers bracing acidity—in the form of balsamic vinegar and cornichons—makes a great counterpoint. The easiest way to mince parsley is to process it in a mini food processor. The leaves should be rinsed and spun thoroughly dry, or they will clump together and resist chopping. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 fully cooked bone-in ham, preferably from the shank end, 6 1/2 to 8 lb.  
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. dry mustard 
  •   

For the parsley-cornichon gremolata: 

  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced 
  • 10 cornichons, minced, plus 1 tsp. brine 
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped  
  • 3 green onions, white and light green portions, minced 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt  
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 

Directions:

Remove the ham from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 250°F. Line a large, heavy roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Trim the fat on the ham to 1/4 to 1/2 inch, if necessary, and score in a diamond pattern. Place the ham, cut side down, in the pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 10 minutes per pound.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar and mustard and whisk into a thin paste.

Remove the foil from the ham and brush the mustard mixture generously all over the exposed surface of the ham. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F and roast the ham, basting it every 5 minutes or so with the mustard mixture, until dark and glossy, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the ham to a carving board and let rest for 20 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the gremolata: In a nonreactive bowl, whisk together the parsley, cornichons and brine, capers, green onions, olive oil and vinegar. Whisk in the salt and pepper.

Cut the ham into slices and serve immediately with the gremolata. Serves 10 to 12.

A note from the butcher: Most hams sold today are actually half hams, cut from a whole leg of pork. A butt-end ham comes from the upper thigh, and a shank-end ham comes from lower down the leg. A butt-end ham tends to be a little more expensive than a shank-end ham, and some say it has a meatier flavor, though it has more gristle and bone to work around. I am in the shank-is-better camp: I find that it yields lovely, juicy red meat and is easier to carve.
— Ron Savenor, Savenor’s Market, Boston, MA

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook and The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2011).