Fresh ham comes from the pig's hind leg. (You buy fresh pork leg to brine, not a cured, smoked ham.) Because a whole leg is quite large, it is usually cut into two sections. The sirloin, or butt, end is harder to carve than our favorite, the shank end. If you don't have room in your refrigerator, brine the pork in an insulated cooler or a small new plastic garbage can and add five or six freezer packs to the brine to keep it well cooled.
1 (6 to 8 pound) bone-in fresh half leg of pork with skin,
preferably shank end, rinsed, or boneless pork loin (see notes)
3 cups kosher salt or 1 1/2 cups table salt
3 (2-liter) bottles Coca-Cola Classic
2 heads garlic, cloves separated, lightly crushed and peeled
10 bay leaves
1/2 cup black peppercorns, crushed
Garlic and Herb Rub
1 cup lightly packed fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
8 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Coca-Cola Glaze With Lime and Jalapeno (recipe follows)
Carefully slice through skin and fat with serrated knife, making 1-inch diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut into meat.
To make brine: In large (about 16-quart) bucket or stockpot, dissolve salt in Coke. Add garlic, bay leaves and crushed peppercorns. Submerge ham in brine and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
Set large, disposable roasting pan on baking sheet for extra support; place flat wire rack in roasting pan. Remove ham from brine; rinse under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place ham cut-side down on rack. (If using sirloin end, place ham skin-side up.) Let ham stand, uncovered, at room temperature 1 hour.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
To make rub: In work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process sage, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and oil until mixture forms smooth paste, about 30 seconds. Rub all sides of ham with paste.
Roast ham at 500 degrees F for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to roast, brushing ham with glaze every 45 minutes, until center of ham registers 145 to 150 degrees F on instant-read thermometer, about 2 1/2 hours longer.
Tent ham loosely with foil and let stand until center of ham registers 155 to 160 degrees F on thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes. Carve and serve.
NOTES: When ordering a fresh half leg of pork, tell butcher to leave fat and skin on the outside intact, unscored.
To roast a 5-pound boneless pork loin, cook at the same temperature as the half leg, allowing about 20 to 25 minute per pound. Take the roast out when it reaches 155 degrees F. Tent loosely with aluminum foil until it registers 160 degrees F.
Coca-Cola Glaze with Lime and Jalapeno
1 cup Coca-Cola Classic
1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes)
2 cups firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
2 medium jalapeno chiles, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Bring Coca-Cola, lime juice, brown sugar and chiles to a boil in small nonreactive saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/3 cups, 5 to 7 minutes. (Glaze will thicken as it cools between bastings; heat over medium heat about 1 minute, stirring once or twice, before using.)
Makes about 1 1/3 cups, enough to glaze ham.
Makes 10 servings.