How to Cook a Pork Leg in the Oven

German BBQ pork knuckle served with sauce on wood background
A roasted pork leg on a board. (Image: saknakorn/iStock/Getty Images)

The hind leg is one of the four primal cuts of pork, the other three being the loin, shoulder and belly. Also called the ham -- and often by that name already cured -- a full pork leg can weigh about 20 lbs. Unless you're cooking for a crowd, use one of the smaller roasts into which a leg is commonly cut -- the shank or the sirloin, preferably the shank, advise the editors at "Cook's Illustrated." Choose a roast with skin on, which will help keep the meat moist.

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Use a sharp knife to score the surface of the roast into a diamond pattern. Cut the skin and fat only, avoiding the meat.

Step 3

Rub the roast all over with a mixture of herbs, if desired. The editors of "Cook's Illustrated" suggest a mixture of sage, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper blended to a paste in a food processor. Or just rub the roast generously with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4

Put the roast on the rack in the roasting pan, and cook at 500 F for 20 minutes.

Step 5

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and continue roasting until a meat thermometer registers 150 F, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Step 6

Remove the roast and allow it to rest another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 155 to 160 F. Carve and serve.

Things You'll Need

  • Bone-in, uncured pork leg roast, 6 to 8 lbs.

  • Knife

  • Roasting pan and rack

  • Herb rub (optional)

Tip

Like poultry, pork leg benefits from brining -- soaking in a water and salt solution -- before roasting. A basic brine solution is 1 cup salt to 1 gallon water. You can season it further with ingredients such as sugar, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns. Using a large pot or clean bucket, submerge the roast in the solution and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

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