Ham. It’s the other holiday meat. Oh, you’ll have a ham sandwich now and then but a multi-pound chunk of ham probably only sees your kitchen counter on holidays. And then, like turkey, you may well have “the” ham recipe that your family always expects.

Here is a new “the” recipe. A really incredibly different ham recipe. This is sensational to cook and to smell and to eat. This is a style of meat that you probably thought you’d have to visit Chinatown for. But, you can do this yourself: forging a sweet, succulent ham dish that pulls apart in dark chunks that you’re going rave about. The ham cooks for 4+ hours and it is torture. The smell generated by the Chinese style sauce is penetrating and saliva-inducing.

We served this dish with homemade naan bread and chutney. It was the perfect football meal.

This recipe is from Ham: an Obsession with the Hindquarter by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Bruce and Mark are a 7X24 couple whose skills have resulted in 15 cookbooks. Their “Ultimate” books include the Ultimate Cook Book, Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, Ultimate Frozen Dessert Book, and of course The Ultimate Brownie Book. I’m still testing that last one.

These authors produce recipes that are superb in flavor and excellently written. When you execute one of their recipes, you know it will work and you can expect a wonderful dish. I’ve emphasized their sweet books because I have my own personal addictions. But their savory books, and Ham is the latest, are equally wonderful. Mark is a southern man and I suspect the origin for many of these rich ham recipes.

Beyond those southern roots, the book has an international style offering recipes for ham from around the world:

  • Roasted Fresh Ham with a Maple-Spice Glaze
  • Moroccan-Style Roasted Fresh Ham
  • Tuscan-Roasted Boneless Fresh Ham with Potatoes and Garlic
  • Jerk-Roasted Boneless Fresh Ham
  • Cuban Lechon Asado [think citrus!]
  • Jamon Del Pais from Peru

And those are recipes from just the first chapter! There is bounty of ideas here, new ways to serve that wonderful meat.

Start with this sweet and spicy roast ham. It will surprise and please every one of your taste buds. The authors pride themselves on the authenticity of the sauce. It’s not something from a jar mostly filled with corn syrup. The honesty of this recipe will be evident from the first smell, let alone the first bite.

Chinese-Style Barbecue Boneless Fresh Ham

Yield:  6-9 servings


  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced peel fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder [available at any oriental market]
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, put though a garlic press or smashed repeatedly with the side of a heavy knife
  • One 3 to 4-pound boneless fresh ham, tied with butchers twine


Stir up the hoisin, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, five-spice powder, and garlic in a small blow. Slather this all over the ham, then sit it on a lipped baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil (so that the foil does not rest on the marinade), and refrigerate for a full 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. White it heats up, uncover the ham and let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes.

Check the ham to see which side has the thicker layer of fat. Life the ham up, put a rack underneath it on the baking sheet, and set the ham fatty side down on that rack. You can also use a V-shaped roaster, often used to roast chickens. Roast for 1 ½ hours.

Use silicon mitts or a couple of large, metal spatula to turn the ham fatty side up. Continue roasting, basting often with the pan juices. The ham and its juice may start to burn a bit, but remember that the pint here is to get that glaze dark and crisp. If you find that it is getting too dark, ten loosely with foil. Keep roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the mat register 170F, between 1 ½ and 2 hours more. Cool the ham for 15 minutes on a cutting or carving board before slicing into paper-thin notes.

Adjustments from Suzen and Brian:

Our ham was 5 pounds. We doubled the amount of sauce and extended the cooking time 4 ½ hours.

Source: Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.