With Christmas time fast approaching, there are many preparations that you will need to make. Finish buying toys, put up lights if you already haven’t, prepare for the “welcome” family members, and don’t forget… curing that ham. That’s right, curing your ham.
I want to show you how to cure a ham and how to cook a ham. I will be showing you how to cook it by wood smoking your ham on a grill with applewood or hickory.
You can buy Hams from the store that are already cured, but they are lacking. If you want one that is cured with care, you will be paying a lot of money for it. One of the best ways to have an extremely high end ham for a very low cost is to cure your own.
The meat is the most important thing in this process, remember that. You focus on your cure, but buy a sub-par ham, you end up with a better, sub-par ham. Start with premium pork and you will have a much better experience both curing and eating.
There are many instructions that you follow with curing of the ham, but they will be done over a long period of time, so it really is much simpler than it will seem at first.
A kitchen scale (Like this one)
A large enough bowl to hold your ham with room to spare
Ceramic ramekin (s) to set the meat on in the bowl (Like this set)
A Pork Ham, skin on if possible (Try a leg that has been cut, deboned and twined)
Finely ground Sea Salt (Like This)
A natural sugar like Muscovado
Weigh the pork. For every 2.2 lbs (1 Kg) of meat, use 2.5g of curing salts or Prague Power, 30g sea salt, and 5g sugar (all by weight!)
Add ¼ tsp. of each spice as a general rule, but you can deviate a hair. Mix all of this together with the above ingredients.
Rub your new curing blend all over the ham. Get it everywhere. If it is sliced, go
ahead and press into the cuts a bit.
Place Ramekin(s) in the bowl and place ham on it. We use it to drain the moisture. If the “brine” from the ham touches it, it could be problematic.
Place in the fridge and let it cure based on the inch diameter of the ham. A 5 inch in diameter ham will be 5days + 3days = 8days. A 3 inch ham will be 3+3=6days. See a trend? Add the 3 days.
Make sure you check on the ham to drain the brine in the bowl so it doesn’t touch the ham. You probably will do it 2-3 times.
Now the ham has sat in the fridge and cured. Rinse all of the solution off of it, pat it dry with a clean towel, wash the bowl and ramekin. Set it all back in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Oh Crap! You got mold!
Well, if it is white or gray, it should be fine (ask a butcher first, because I am not) and is actually a good thing, because it keeps away the bad mold which is green or blue.
Your Ham is Cured.
Smoking the Ham:
Kettle-style barbecue grill (chose this for expense, but a gas grill may be used with altered instructions)
Apple Wood chunks, or chips (but chips need soaking)
Small pan to fit in your BBQ, line it with foil for ease of cleaning.
Meat Thermometer (like this)
Onion (quarter it)
Hard apple cider or apple juice (cheap works great, but quality enhances flavor a little)
Get the smoker going. You will put charcoal in about a third of the grill and preheat the grill. Add cider/juice pan to the other side of the grill. Then add your wood. Put grate in and wait for grill to come fully up to temp for a bit. Add your seasonings (onions and cider or juice) to another pan on the grate above the coals.
Watch this video from Weber if my instructions are as clear as mud…
Place ham in it and smoke it over indirect heat for 40 minutes per pound estimated time, but really until internal temp reaches 170-180F.
Using the estimated time above, halfway through, remove the skin from the ham (it is now a rind), use the knife and tongs for this.
Return the ham to the smoker to finish smoking.
Finished Smoking it, you can now let it sit and cool off a little. It will keep for a week in the fridge. This ham is allowed to be frozen after smoking, but why ruin the ridiculously awesome flavor.