Fresh Ham with Red Chile Marinade

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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15 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 Tbsp. sugarcane vinegar or apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
one 13–15 pound boneless, skinless fresh ham, tied with kitchen twinw
8 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened
2-1/2 pounds small waxy potatoes


Put 8 cups of water and 2 large pinches of salt into a medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then add the chiles and toast, turning once, until they become pliable, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the chiles to a pot of boiling water and add the vinegar. Cook them until soft, about 15–20 minutes. Drain the chiles and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Transfer the chiles to a blender and add the garlic and the reserved cooking liquid. Puree into a smooth paste and season to taste with salt, then set the paste aside.

Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 325F. Put the ham into a large roasting pan and make about 20 small incisions all over the ham with the tip of a paring knife. Rub the ham all over with the margarine and cover with the reserved paste. Roast in the oven, basting every 30 minutes, until the internal temperature in the thickest part reaches 160F, about 5–6 hours. (The paste on the ham will get very dark and may burn slightly.)

Meanwhile, put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 large pinches of salt and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, peel, and set the potatoes aside, then a dd them to the roasting pan alongside the ham about 1 hour before the ham has finished roasting.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board or platter and remove and discard the twine. Cover the ham loosely with foil, and set it aside to rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Serve this wonderful ham with some potatoes and some of the pan juices.

Recipe from Saveur Magazine, issue 55.