BBQ FAQ: Whole Ham
[I'm trying my first whole ham (not cured) in the smoker overnight. Any thoughts on this?]
Cut off the skin (this lets the smoke penetrate more), but leave the fat. Put a basic rub on it. If you don't have one handy, some salt, pepper, and a little garlic will work just fine. Cook slow at 220-225F, and keep the smoke going fairly often. I like to barbecue mine until the internal temperature reaches 175F or higher. Remember, this isn't as lean as a pork loin, so you can go to a higher temperature. Makes it really tender if you bring it up easy. About 30 minutes before it's done, baste a couple of times with my rib glaze.
I had the shoulder portion of a couple of fresh hams (10 lbs. each) in the freezer that I needed to use. Since the hams were very lean, I decided to inject them with marinade. I decided to try something different.
- 2 cup olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 6 cloves garlic
- 4 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 teaspoon salt
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup water
I blended the marinade well in the food processor and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours for the flavors to blend. I took half of the marinade and strained it and injected it into the two hams, about 1 1/2 cups in each one.
Then I rubbed the hams with this rub.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
I let them sit overnight in the refrigerator and then took them out to come to room temperature. I cooked them in the smoker at 250F, using seasoned maple for fuel. I started mopping with the remainder of the marinade after 4 hours in the smoker, mopping about every hour. Took them out after 12 hours, wrapped them in foil and let them sit for 2 hours in a dry cooler.
They really turned out well. The injected marinade kept them moist and they were falling apart tender. Great flavor! The maple smoke blended quite well with the souvlakia marinade flavor.
A fresh ham is smoked about the same as a pork shoulder. I like to trim the skin and fat off (not all, but leave about 1/4" fat on it) leaving about 3" of skin along the shank portion. Put a dry rub on the night before and wrap in plastic wrap. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This will help draw the moisture from the top layer and turn the rub into a gel. Before putting it on the smoker I put a light coat of vegetable oil over the ham, then I put on more rub.
Start the smoking at a lower temperature than usual, around 225F, and a little heavier smoke. After 1 to 1 1/2 hours I baste with an oil-based mop, and again at 3 hours. After that I mop every hour with a apple juice and vinegar mop. After the second oil-based mop, I move the temperature of the smoker up to about 250-275F until the ham is fall-apart tender (1 1/2 hours per pound or an internal temperature of 185-190F.) Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes wrapped in foil. Pull the ham apart and put some sauce on it. I like my Mustard Vinegar sauce. I add just enough sauce to keep the meat moist when I reheat it. When I serve it, there isn't much evidence of the sauce, and I serve the ham with sauce on the side. To reheat, I put the meat in a Ziploc bag that is closed about 2/3-3/4 of the way, add some Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of rub and maybe a splash of cider vinegar. I reheat in the microwave in 1 minute increments, mixing the meat thoroughly after each minute until it's hot. This helps trap moisture, keeps the meat from drying out and heats the meat quickly!
[I want to do a cured ham in my smoker for Easter. Anybody got any ideas on the best way to do it?]
If you're doing a bone in, cured ham, here is a good way to finish it. Most hams of this style are sold skinned in most areas, but will have a few sections where the skin (hide) is still on. Especially around the tapered end going toward the end of the bone. Cut the skin off with a good sharp knife, being careful not to cut or remove the fat under it.
You're not really concerned about deep cooking since this type of ham is actually already cooked. What you are interested in is giving it a better and richer flavor. Therefore, you don't need a very hot fire, but a low to medium one with good smoke. The reason I like to keep a medium heavy smoke going is because the meat won't be on the smoker that long, compared to a raw ham. The reason I like a low-to-medium heat is to extend the smoking time a bit.
Bring smoker up to about 225-230F and try to keep it in that range. Make sure you have an oven thermometer placed about an inch or two away from the ham. This will guarantee accuracy. Smoke the ham until it reaches about 150F, no higher than 160F internally. Use my mustard glaze for the outside of the ham (Section 9.4). Baste the ham with the glaze at 30 minutes, then again at 15 minutes, before ham is ready to be removed from smoker. If you like, you can baste one more time with the glaze as soon as it comes off the smoker. As an added treat, you can add pineapple rings and maraschino cherries on top of the ham about 30 to 45 minutes before it's done. You can hold these down with toothpicks.