Marbleized Fresh Ham

James Beard

Author and Educator

Large fresh hams are perfect to serve a large number of people. This delicious recipe is an excellent choice for a buffet party and is best served cold. When sliced thinly, the final dish will be beautifully marbled with the raisin and herb stuffing mixture.


  • 3/4 cup white raisins
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 12 to 15 pound fresh ham, boned, rolled, and well tied
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried sage
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup apple jelly
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed, crushed (optional)


Soak the raisins in sherry to cover until puffed, and then drain. Reserve the sherry.

Chop 3/4 cup pistachio nuts and 5 cloves garlic. Make deep incisions in the ham with a long, heavy, wooden-handled larding needle, turning the needle before removing it so that it makes small cavities in the meat. Combine raisins, garlic, parsley, and pistachios and stuff the mixture into the cavities with your fingers, packing it in as tightly as possible—a wooden chopstick is a good aid. Push in the remaining whole pistachios here and there.

Mince the remaining garlic and blend with the crushed sage. Rub the outside fat with the mixture, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the ham on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in a preheated 325ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes per pound. Combine the sherry drained from the raisins, the butter, and the apple jelly in a small saucepan and heat gently until butter and jelly are melted. If you like the flavor of anise, add the crushed aniseed to the mixture—this will result in a more highly perfumed ham. Baste the ham every half hour with the mixture as it roasts. Keep the basting mixture warm while using.

When the ham reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF (insert meat thermometer into the thickest part) remove it from the oven and let it cool. If you are going to chill the ham, brush it well with the pan juices, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Carve the ham into thin slices. Serve with a rémoulade sauce and white beans vinaigrette sprinkled with chopped fresh basil and parsley and garnished with tomato sections. Crisp Italian bread goes well with this meal, as does a fine sparkling wine. The famous mustard fruits of Cremona are admirable with this ham.


16 to 20 servings