Ask your butcher: While a holiday ham traditionally consists of a cured, brined, or smoked cut of pork from the hind leg, we're taking liberties with the word "ham" and choosing the best cut for this job: the shoulder. Order a skin-on fresh picnic ham, aka the picnic cut, a forgiving, economical joint that will give you the juiciest results.
Make 1/4-inch-deep cuts 1/4 inch apart in skin of ham with a clean box cutter. (The sharp blades cut through the skin with ease and make straight edges.) Stir together salt and pepper; rub over ham, working into cuts in skin. Place ham in a very large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 2 days.
Remove ham from bowl. Brush salt from ham, and discard. Place ham, fat side up, on a wire rack in a jelly-roll pan, and chill, uncovered, 8 to 10 hours to air-dry.
Let ham stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425°. Bake ham on lower oven rack 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake 2 hours and 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°, and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until skin is crisp and a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 175°. Let stand 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with salsa.
Roast like a pro: First, plan ahead. A bone-in roast this thick requires two days of seasoning to allow the salt to penetrate to the bone. (That's as many days as ingredients required to flavor this budget-minded wonder.) Second, score the skin using a box cutter or razor blade so the fat renders as it cooks and the exterior turns potato chip crunchy.
The right temp: Because we're talking shoulder, go for an internal temp of at least 175°, which will encourage the connective tissue to break down and intramuscular fat to melt.
This is the first Ham I've made, it won't be the last time. I made a 9 lb version for this years Super Bowl party. It was almost gone before the first quarter was over.
Very little time is spent on prepping this dish, but plan out your time to allow for two full days of brining. I dried it overnight in my fridge for 12 hours.
The recipe skips the part about what to cook it in. I removed the wire rack and replaced it will foil in the the same jelly roll pan I used to dry ham. Place skin side up, seems obvious but if you've never cooked a ham, I worried.
Because it was a smaller ham I shortened the initial high bake and the long slow bake by 10 minutes each. Finished baking at third temperature change until it reach appropriate internal temperature. My only hint for baking is to have a thermometer hanging in your oven so you can make adjustments as necessary.
Served it with a anything goes sauce from The Fresh Market that was barely touched.
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