Sweet Tea–Brined Country Ham

Preparation Method

 

  • In a large stockpot, bring 2 gallons of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the tea leaves and half of the jar of molasses. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep, about 1 hour.
  • Pour 1 gallon of the mixture over the ham, and top with fresh cold water to cover (a spare cooler is the ideal vessel for this). Chill for 12 hours, then drain and cover with the remaining 1-gallon tea mixture and fresh cold water to cover. Chill for 12 hours more, then drain and rinse the ham, and prepare to cook it.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place the ham fat-side down in a large roasting pan with a lid (or tent with foil). Add the remaining half jar of molasses and pour in enough beer so that the liquid comes about halfway up sides of the ham. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to bake for 1½ hours.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the ham fat-side up (spearing it with carving forks helps secure it for turning). Cover again and bake for 1½ to 2 hours more, until it comes to an internal temperature of 140°F. Remove from the oven and let the ham cool in the liquid.
  • Raise the oven temperature back to 400°F.
  • Pour out the liquid from the roasting pan and discard it.
  • Carefully carve the rind and most of the fat from the top of the ham, leaving about ⅛ inch of fat covering the exterior; discard the rind and excess fat.
  • Cover the ham evenly with the brown sugar, pressing to help it adhere. Stud the ham evenly with cloves. Return the ham to the oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes to allow the sugar to melt into the fat and form a flavorful dark brown crust.
  • Remove from the oven and rest for at least 30 minutes. Thickly slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 28 (with plenty of leftover for biscuits)

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Ingredients

  • 1 (14 to 16-pound) uncooked bone-in country ham (hock end removed, rinsed and scrubbed to remove mold and excess salt)

  • 20 teaspoons loose black tea

  • 1 (15-ounce) jar dark molasses (not blackstrap)

  • About 6 (12-ounce) bottles Shiner Bock beer

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • 24 to 32 whole cloves

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