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I think I'm gonna smoke a fresh ham


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For the holidays this year, I'd like to do something a little different than the turkeys and prime ribs of years past. Don't get me wrong, both are great, but I think it's time to mix things up a bit.

I have a double-barrel wood burning smoker that I built out of 55 gal drums a few years back, and that I regularly use for pork butt, chicken, ribs, brisket, all the usual barbecue suspects. For whatever reason, I've got it in my head now to do a fresh (uncured) ham for the holidays this year. Never done one before; I'm curious to hear thoughts from anyone who has.

Good idea? Bad idea? Recommended brines or rubs?

As always, much appreciated.

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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Here's what I do:

For a 19-20-lb skin-on fresh ham.

8 T Cure #1

23 oz Kosher salt

1.5 c organic sugar (regular white is fine)*

1.5 c brown sugar (light)*

5 cloves garlic, crushed

2 T whole black peppercorns, slightly crushed

1 T whole white peppercorns, slightly crushed

2 T Aleppo pepper

5 bay leaves

12 whole allspice

2 T whole coriander

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh sage

1 whole guajillo chilies, washed, dried and toasted

Put 5 qts cold water into a 10-qt pot and place in the fridge to chill.

Put the above ingredients in a pot along with 2.5 quarts cold water and bring just to a boil, stirring frequently so that the curing salt, salt and sugars completely dissolve. Reduce the temp, cover, and simmer gently 15-20 min. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool uncovered for a bit then add to the cold water in the fridge, stir well, and allow to chill thoroughly, to 37-39 degrees.

[Note: How much you make here will depend on the size container you have for your ham for curing. Take the ham--in its packaging or not--and place it in the container, cover completely with water, then remove the ham and measure the water. You will need 4 cups of the brine as an injection so account for that. If you need to make more then scale the ingredients up accordingly. The recipe above calls for 7.5 quarts of water total. You shouldn't need to scale up much but if you do you can likely just scale up by 50% from the get-go.]

Meanwhile, remove the skin and most of the surface fat from the fresh ham. Place the ham in a dishpan or roasting pan. Measure out 4 cups of brine, strain it, returning any spices/solids to the brine pot, then grab your injector. Start injecting by focusing first on the area near the bone at each end of the ham then inject to and around the bone covering all sides of the ham. Inject most of your cure at the bone and the rest as you remove the injector from the meat. Use all 4 cups.

Place your ham in whatever container you will use for curing and cover completely with the brine. Weight the ham to keep it totally submerged. Cure at 37-40 degrees for 10 days.

Remove the ham from the brine and rinse well, removing any stuck on spices. Soak the ham for 3 hours in cold water, in the fridge, changing the water twice. Trim off a little piece of meat and fry it in neutral oil. Taste for salt. Soak again if you want it less salty.

Smoke the ham using your smokewood of choice at ~240 to either 152-155 or so or, if glazing to finish, smoke to 140-145 first then glaze, applying thinly but evenly every 15 min, till the ham reaches 152-155.

* You can sub other sweeteners if you wish. In most cases it is better to reduce some of both the white and brown sugars, replacing with your sweetener of choice.


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Wow -- thanks for that recipe. Looks fantastic. I have a question though -- is the ten-day cure necessary? I'm up for it if it is, but have you done one without it going so long? How would a 24-48 hour brine work, along with the injections?

Edited by JohnnyH (log)

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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Then you won't have ham, but pork.

You need to allow time for the cure to penetrate the meat

Otherwise buy a ready cured but unsmoked ham

I would also cold smoke it, and cook seperately.

You might want to soak it to remove some of the salt before cooking

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I just did the recipe from pork and sons for thanksgiving, but smoked rather than roasted. I only brined 72 hours with injection and the cure seamed pretty uniform. I wouldn't do it without injection though. I don't have the recipe b/c i'm out of town, but maybe someone on here (or the pork and son's thread) can help with that. The addition of curry was very nice. I think it was about 21 pounds with the bone and smoked at around 200-220 for about 9 hours. came out very well.

Oh, and the split pea soup the next day was the best I've ever had!

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