I really look forward to big holidays. I get to see my family and I also get carte blanche in the kitchen. It works out well for all involved.

This year I decided to brine and cure my own ham. Rob from Butcher and Larder custom cut a 3.5 pound roast from the leg for me, which was nice because a whole ham might have been a bit large for three people. That and I would have had carry it home on the bus, and I didn’t want a hoof sticking out of my bag.

The brine formula and chipotle sauce/glaze recipe came from Michael Ruhlman, whose Barbecue Ham looks absolutely ridiculous. He suggested throwing in some aromatics, so I used onion, garlic, lemons, peppercorns, and rosemary. The meat brined for about 48 hours before I had to move it from my apartment to my parents’ place.


brine time

As you might expect, I also made bread for the occasion.


glowing pull-apart rolls

I’m not sure how I ended up with the exact amount of rolls that would fit in the pan, but it was a happy surprise.

At this point you might expect a gratuitous meat shot, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me and my iPhone made it look like I cooked a blurry roast. So here’s a picture I took once I got back to my apartment.


broiled crispy skin

My mom had a eureka moment during dinner when she discovered the gloriousness that is pork fat. “I thought I would cut it off, but it’s delicious.” I was very proud.

For dessert I wanted to try something new, so I made olive oil gelato from Mario Batali and Mark Ladner’s Molto Gusto.


with flaky Maldon salt and a drizzle of oil

I think everyone was a bit apprehensive about this recipe on paper. It seems like it shouldn’t work, that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the end of a meal. It turned out that this was an incredibly well-balanced dessert. The vanilla custard base was much less sweet than that of most ice creams, so the olive oil became the unquestionable focal point of the dish. Fruity, grassy, sweet, and savory all at once.


I thin-sliced the leftovers and ate it like prosciutto

So this was a lot of fun. It was my first venture into curing and I’m incredibly happy with the results. I may take the plunge and buy Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie, so expect to see some bacon on here sometime soon.

Mother’s day is this week and I am planning yet another elaborate dinner. Stay tuned, I promise to bring my camera with me this time.

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