The Melaniff Family Cookbook

Baked Fresh Ham with Pan Gravy and Cracklings

An American Place by Larry Forgione

10-12 servings


2 T kosher salt

2 t dried thyme, crushed

2 t dried sage, crushed

1 t poultry seasoning

1 t freshly ground black pepper

1 12-14-pound bone-in fresh ham, shank portion

1 large onion, sliced

1/2 C cider vinegar

2 C apple juice or apple cider

1-1/4 C chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine seasonings and divide in half. Reserve half of the seasonings for cracklings.

Score the fat side of the ham with a sharp knife, making a diamond pattern.

Rub remaining seasonings over the ham and place the ham, fat side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 5-1/2 to 6 hours or until done, draining fat from pan occasionally. (The internal temperature should be 160°F to 170°F.)

Add onion, cider vinegar, and apple juice or cider to the pan when ham temperature reaches 135°F to 140°F. Continue roasting until done. Cover and let rest while preparing gravy.

With a spoon, scrape up particles from the pan and pour all into a saucepan.

Skim off fat. Add broth and boil gently for 8 to 10 minutes, or until reduced to 2-1/2 cups.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and butter into a smooth paste. Stir into pan juices. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; then cook and stir 2 minutes more.

Place prepared cracklings in oven in a shallow pan to heat for 10 to 15 minutes, then arrange them on a plate.

Carve ham and serve it with the pan gravy and cracklings.


Make cracklings the day before serving. Cut the skin from the ham into 1-1/2 inch- square pieces (skin should have about 1/2-inch fat). Toss with reserved seasoning mixture.

The day before serving, place pieces in a roasting pan. Bake at 350°F. for 3 to 4 hours, draining grease from pan occasionally.

Cracklings are done when golden brown and crisp. Cool. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Reheat in 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes before serving.

Colleen McGill Tierney - 2002