CHILI BRINED FRESH HAM (for 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 3 to 3-1/2 hours longer (more if needed), until an instant read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the meat, registers 160* (If the meat finishes before the skin crisps, take the roast out of the oven and cut off the skin. While the roast rests, scrape the fat off of the back of the skin and return it to the oven on a rimmed baking sheet until it crisps up). Transfer the ham to a carving board and let it 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 it with the jus and crisp skin.
adapted from Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Francisco, printed in Food & Wine Magazine, December, 2009