Recipe Courtesy of Chef Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans
(Photo courtesy of Denny Culbert)
Boucherie ham is a raw ham, meaning it is not cured. At a Boucherie, it would be injected with a brine that’s seasoned with an overt amount of garlic powder. I prefer fresh garlic. By using fresh garlic to make the brine, you also end up with a garlic paste to use to form a crust on the outside of the ham. At a Boucherie, you’d probably cook this on a smoker or in a Cajun microwave. This at-home version lets you use your oven instead.
1 (15-pound) raw ham, with skin, shank, hock, and aitch bone (hip bone) removed
2 cups (100 cloves) garlic, peeled
1 (12-ounce) bottle fruit-forward beer (I use an apricot hefeweizen)
1 cup cane syrup (or honey)
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Large deep roasting pan
1 (11⁄2-ounce) marinade injector
1 rolling pin, small baseball bat, or another implement of destruction
Note: The ham should still have the femur. The hip bone might still be connected. You can have your butcher remove the hip bone, or you can use a knife and brute force to rip it off. I’d say just ask your butcher to do it.
› Preheat the oven to 350°F.
› Wrap the ham in plastic wrap. Give it 9 or 10 good whacks with the rolling pin. Turn it and give 9 or 10 more good whacks. Flip it and give 9 or 10 more good whacks. Turn it and give 9 or 10 more good whacks. Beat the shit out of it. Seriously….Tenderize.
› Put the garlic, beer, cane syrup, vinegar, 3 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a blender and blend on medium speed for 10 seconds. Strain the mixture by pouring it through a fine-mesh colander or sieve into a bowl (or any other nonreactive food-safe container). Once this mixture is strained, you’ll have your brine and a paste of garlic and spices leftover—don’t you dare throw that away. Pour the brine into something tall and cylindrical, like a drinking glass. (You’re going to be filling an injector with the liquid, so having something tall and cylindrical just makes it easier to fill the injector.)
› Fill the injector with the brine and start with the ham fat side up. In the top left corner of the ham, about 11⁄2 inches from the edge, press the injector about halfway through the ham and inject 1⁄2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon) brine. Continue doing this, moving the injector 11⁄2 inches over and repeating, then 11⁄2 inches over and repeating, refilling the injector as necessary. You’re going to make a grid on the ham every 11⁄2 inches (across and up and down) until you have covered the fat side with a square grid of holes. Then turn the ham over and repeat. Some of the liquid will leak out, and that’s okay. Once the top and bottom are injected, inject along the 4 sides at equal intervals. If you’re being smart about this, you’ll do it in the pan you’re going to cook it in, so the juice stays contained and doesn’t run all over your countertop.
› Place the ham in a large roasting pan, big enough to hold the ham. Season the top with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Turn the ham over and season the bottom with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and the remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper. Take the reserved garlic mash and evenly distribute it across the surface of the whole ham. It won’t spread very well, so press it and sort of pack it on.
› Place the ham fat side up and bake in the 350°F oven. After 11⁄2 hours, pour 2 quarts of warm water (just hot water out of your faucet) into the pan—not over the ham—and cover it with foil. Put it back in the oven and bake for 2 more hours, until the internal temp is 150°F (about 4 hours total cook time).
› Once it reaches that internal temp, pull it out of the oven, uncover, remove the ham from the pan, and let rest for 20 minutes. Skim the fat from the jus in the roasting pan and discard; reserve jus. Then slice the ham, perpendicular to the bone, into 1⁄4-inch slices, though thinner than that is better. The best knife to use is a scalloped serrated knife. The pointed ones will just tear the meat off; and because it’s so crusty, a normal slicer isn’t going to slice into the meat. A scalloped serrated knife will give you better control and nicer slices of ham. Although my dad would just use his electric knife—he loves any excuse to bust that fucker out. Pour reserved jus over slices of the ham before serving.