Curing and Smoking a Ham

Curing and Smoking a Ham

This year I decided to cure and smoke the Easter ham.  My wife thought that I was crazy and my sister had all the confidence that it would turn out great with the side comment that we could order pizza if it did not turn out.   With the cost of pork shoulder at $0.99/lbs. the decision was made.

I started reading all about what makes a ham a ham.  I will save you time, Ham is cured pork.  You can dry cure it or do an easier wet cure.  If you are looking for a Virginia Ham……..this is not the page for you but if you are looking for a great tasting ham that is easy and does not break the bank, look no further.  This post is a wet cure and you need vary few tools, some room in your fridge and your smoker with an apple wood or other fruit wood.

This will take you 1 day/2 lbs. to cure so plan accordingly.  Also, I suggest you order the Prague Powder online a head of time.  I found that not many stores carry it in my area.

I used a pork shoulder.  It is not the traditional cut used for a ham but that what I was able to find at my local meat provider.  I decided that I wanted to do two 10 pound hams, one that I would roast and one that I would smoke.  Also the smoke time is about 1 hour per pound.  In hindsight I think I will do a combination of smoking and roasting next time.

Below is my method and recipes used:

Brine the pork in a plastic container, covered and placed in the fridge.  The temp of the fridge should not drop below 38F.  The cure process will stop below 38F.

Brine Recipe:
Prague Powder #1  - 1 teaspoon per 5lbs of pork.  Do not add more than this.
(Prague powder #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% sodium chloride)
2 cups of kosher salt
2 cups of brown sugar
2 tbsp – cloves
2 tbsp – crushed garlic
2 tbsp – black pepper
4 tbsp – onion powder
4 tbsp – maple syrup

Dissolve all the above but the Prague powder in 1 gallon of warm water and let cool or add some ice.  Dissolve the Prague powder in a small amount of cold water and add to the brine mixture.   Add the pork to the brine mixture.  I placed a plate on the top of the pork so that the pork was completely submerged.  Cover and place in the fridge for 1 day per 2 pounds of pork.

Note about trimming the pork: I decided to leave all the fat on the pork.  I would have removed the skin if it was there.   My friends and I debate the benefits of leaving a thicker layer of fat and removing it after cooking.  I think leaving the fat on provides a better end product.  Give me your thoughts on the subject.

Ham Number 1

Smoking the Ham:
Smoking a ham takes 1 hour or so per pound.
 I removed the ham 12 hours before my target serving time.
1 hour for prep and raising closer to room temp.
10 hours for smoking
1 hour for rest

The ham was removed from the brine and rinsed.  I dried the ham with paper towel.  I mixed a dry rub, applied it to the ham.

Dry Rub:
Brown Sugar – 1 cup
Paprika – ½ cup
Pepper – ¼ cup
Dry Mustard – 2 tbsp
Ground Cloves – 2 tbsp
Onion Powder – 2 tbsp
Nutmeg – 1 tbsp

The smoker was set to 220F and stocked with Apple Wood.  I used my Bradley Electric Smoker.  The water bowel was filled with equal parts of apple cider vinegar and orange juice.  Once the smoker was up to temperature the ham added.

After about 6 hours I mopped the ham with 1 part canola oil to 4 parts orange juice every half hour.
The ham reached 155F after 10.5 hours.  I wrapped the ham in foil and let it rest for an hour or so.

Ham Number 2

Roasting the ham:  
I roasted the other ham for 30 minutes per pound at 350F with the following liquid.
2 cups Peach Nectar
8 Chipotles chopped with Adobo sauce
1 cup of water

I basted the ham every 30 minutes.

One hour before the ham was done.  I mixed ¾ cups of brown sugar, ½ cup of honey, ¼ cup mustard, 1 tbsp ground cloves and glazed the ham.  Returned the ham to the oven and increased the temp to 400F till the crust formed.   Removed from the oven and covered with foil for one hour (The internal temp when I took the ham out was 155F)

Both hams were moist and flavorful but the smoked ham had that extra dimension of flavor.

1 comment:

Slow Food Ways said...

Great recipe! Though I would skip the curing salts, (Prague powder). I would add a few more cure time. This is perfect for use with your Meat Smoker. How can you go wrong when smoking your family’s Easter Ham?