Country Ham

Total Time:
52 hr 30 min
48 hr
4 hr 30 min

20 portions

  • 1 country (dry cured) ham
  • 1 liter Dr. Pepper
  • 1 cup sweet pickle juice, optional

Unwrap ham and scrub off any surface mold (if you hung in a sack for 6 months you'd have mold too). Carefully remove hock with hand saw. (If this idea makes you eye your first aid kit, ask your butcher to do it. But make sure you keep the hock, it's the best friend collard greens ever had.)

Place ham in cooler and cover with clean water. (As long as it's not too dirty you can use what southerners call the "hose pipe"). Stash the cooler in the bushes. If it's summer, throw in some ice. If it's freezing out, keep the cooler inside. Change the water twice a day for two days turning the ham each time.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place ham in a large disposable turkey-roasting pan and add enough Dr. Pepper to come about halfway up the side of the ham. Add pickle juice if you've got it and tent completely with heavy-duty foil. Cook for 1/2 hour then reduce heat to 325 degrees F, and cook another 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the ham over, insert an oven safe thermometer (probe-style is best) and cook another 1 1/2 hours, or until the deepest part of the ham hits 140 degrees F (approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound total).

Let rest 1/2 hour then slice paper-thin. Serve with biscuits or soft yeast rolls.

Cooks note: Even after soaking, country ham is quite salty, so thin slicing is mandatory. If you're a bacon fan, however, cut a thicker (1/4-inch) slice and fry it up for breakfast.

View All

Cooking Tips
More Recipes and Ideas
4.6 35
I have had country hams prepared by other folks that had a "gamey" taste to them. I do think that all hams are not created equal, even within the same producer. Started cooking my own hams using this recipe for the past 5 years and have yet to turn out a bad ham. I have cooked Smithfield and Clifty Farms and all have been great! I have one soaking right now! Merry Christmas! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Why would you ruin country ham like this? Slice it thin, slap it on a biscuit and enjoy the best breakfast ever. Don't soak it in water, don't soak it in cola, don't soak it in anything. Throw some slices in a frying pan and fry it till it's got some nice browning, flip it and do the same and slap it on a biscuit. Embrace the salty ham goodness. It's how a country ham was made to be eat. While Alton Brown is my favorite chef on Food Network and The Cooking Channel (I love Good Eats) I'm going to have to disagree on this one. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Oh my gosh!! This was the best ham ever. I have cooked country ham for years and could never get it tender enough. I served it with biscuits, red eye gravy, and homemade blackberry jam. Absolutely fab! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe was great! The meat is very moist, and the flavor is fabulous. My family thought that it turned out to be one of the best country hams that they had ever tasted. I know that I will definitely use this recipe again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
We purchased our 20lb ham at a little shop in Culpeper, VA, called Calhoun's, their hams have been served at the White House. We soaked our ham for 3 days due to its size to add moisture and I followed Alton's recipe for cooking but chose to let it sit for a day, removed the rind, leaving at 1/2 inch of fat, I then chose to add a glaze just to give the ham a little zip and some color. I scored the top in a diagonal pattern, added whole cloves made a glaze of 1 sm can of crushed pineapple, 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of dijon mustard and one cup whole cranberries, cooked for about 10 minutes then added 1/4 cup kentucky bourbon.(Woodford Reserve Took my immersion blender to the glaze to smooth it, cooked for about 10 mintues more, then brushed all over the top of the ham. My mother-in-law raved about the ham, my husband said it was the best he's ever had. It might be a long process but the flavor, aroma and smiles on faces was so worth the effort. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was a excellent recipe. I liked it. My family LOVED it! Preparing the Ham took forever, but at least it was a good way to take the salt out. Your recipe was a hit on Thanksgiving, and I'll make sure it stays a hit on X-mas. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe was great!!!!! I found it too late to soak it for 2 days but it still turned out wonderful, juicy and tender and good flavor. This is the 2nd Alton Brown recipe I have used and he hasn't failed me yet. Way to go Alton!!! You make this less than average cook look like a genius. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I cooked a country ham using this method and the end product made this southern gal proud!!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
True country ham has as many recipes as there are family traditions. I come from a 3rd generation, where we always slowly hot-soaked/boiled ham first, then finished it in the oven. Mr. Brown has--no surprise to me with his background--come up with a marvelous way to simply bake the ham straight through. Well done Alton!!! I did two hams, about a month apart. First Mr. Brown's, as prescribed. Second, I soaked the ham a bit longer and leached more of the salt out prior to my heated soaking/boiling approach. Then I made up a 3 generations old glaze made with orange juice and rind, brown sugar, a small handful of other "top secret" family seasonings and finished the ham in the oven until the glaze was well adhered and carmalized. Because of my history, it too was marvelous. In fact, with the Dr. Pepper cooking liquid, I may have fancied it a bit more than our usual approach. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have used this recipe twice and am so totally happy with it, and our guests, that our last guest is driving 894 miles this New Years so that she and her husband can have it -- with our black-eyed peas, slaw, potatoe salad, etc., etc. etc. and beers. It really takes a good quality ham to make it imitation country hams should be used as catfish bait. item not reviewed by moderator and published
So, you basically made something totally different but scored this recipe 5*? That doesn't make any sense item not reviewed by moderator and published
Was going to say the exact same thing. There's nothing about the two that are even close. item not reviewed by moderator and published