John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying some home-cured ham unsmoked. After all, when you can cure your own at home for a fraction of the cost of deli ham, and since it only takes about 5 minutes of active work to make the stuff at home, you'd be crazy not to enjoy a some whenever the mood struck you without having to go through the trouble of a hot smoke.
If you don’t know how to cure meat at home, follow these very easy instructions on home curing or brining an American ham.
But to take that leg of pork that you have so satisfyingly transformed into ham to the next level, you can always take the time, do it right, and give that ham a few hours over hardwood. Here are instructions for hot smoking a ham on a home gas BBQ grill. If you have a BBQ smoker, use as you otherwise would for the ham.
How to Smoke a Brined Ham on a Grill
Take your ham out of the brine, rinse it, and dry it off well with some paper towels. Put it on a plate (or better yet a rack) and let it dry (pellicule) overnight in the fridge. This drying step will help the smoke adhere to the meat.
Prepare your wood chips. Woods that go well with ham include:
- Most any fruit tree wood
Soak your wood chips in a bucket of water for at least half an hour, preferably longer. (A single bag of BBQ wood chips will be plenty to smoke a whole ham.)
Preheat your BBQ grill to medium. Wrap a heaping handful of soaked wood chips in a couple of sheets of tinfoil, and then poke some holes in the foil to allow the smoke to come out.
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- Add your foil-wrapped chips to the BBQ. Place the foil near enough to the heat to keep it smoking.
- If you have two burner heads, turn one side off completely. On the still lit side, place your foil under the grill (or if you can remove half of the grill this makes things even easier) but on top of the lava rocks.
- When the chips start smoking, put the ham on the BBQ grate, as far from the flame source as possible.
- Cover the lid and turn the heat (only one burner) down to low. Keep the BBQ temperature at around 250.
- Check the BBQ occasionally, and add new packets of foil-wrapped wood chips when you no longer see billowing smoke.
The total cook time required depends on the precise heat of the BBQ and on the size of the ham. A large ham could take 5 or more hours, a small piece of ham only an hour. What you need is an instant-read thermometer. Take readings regularly, and take the ham off the heat once it has reached 155 degrees at its deepest internal point.
The ham can at this point be eaten straight away or refrigerated for later slicing.
I love this ham. It's perfect for an autumn BBQ when the nights are just starting to get crisp and the idea of a big ole' ham on the table (scalloped potatoes, roasted beets and carrots) sounds like a real good transition from the BBQ of summer.
It's impressive flavor, a far cry from even the best supermarket product, and there is something very primal and satisfying about curing and smoking your own meat. The best part of all is that it's easy!