I don't have anything against the commercial hams that are available at your local grocer, because I will buy one every once in a while. However, when it comes to a holiday, I like to make sure that we have a good quality ham to put on the table for our family and friends. And that I know where it came from, what spices and other ingredients are used. So, I made it myself and so can you.
So, I was able to purchase a portion of a boneless fresh ham from Berkshire pork and proceeded to make my own Easter ham. I like the Berkshire Breed of hog as it will have slightly more marbling than some other breeds. You will notice this marbling (white specs of fat withing the meat) in several of the pictures. And remember from a previous blog, marbling is flavor.
I made sure that I trimmed a little of the excess fat off the outside. But to be honest with you, it was OK just the way it was. I put it into the brine with all ingredients dissolved on Tuesday evening and smoked it Sunday. The brine consisted of the following;
2 gallon cold tap water
18 ounces salt (iodine free)
16 ounces pure maple syrup
8 ounces brown sugar
5.4 ounces prague powder (pink salt) -- available from our store
Any type of a food safe container will work as long as it will hold the 2 gallon of water, ingredients and of course the ham. You want to make sure the ham in submerged. The white specs you see above are some small pieces of fat that I trimmed off after the ham was in cure.
Everyday I would stir the brine and turn the piece of ham over. To be honest with you, I didn't need to do this but it made me feel good.
On Sunday, I removed it from the brine and let it set on a small wire rack on the counter for just about 30 minutes. This allowed the ham to start to warm up some and to start to dry. As you know, smoke is "absorbed" by the meat when the meat is dry. Once the ham became "tacky" to the touch, I made sure that I really had the smoker -- smoking.
Picture above shows the ham in smoker before I really got the smoker -- smoking. Had so much smoke, that picture didn't turn out so good. It was all smoke.
I tried to maintain a 200° F, however the wind caused the temperature to fluctuate several times. However, I did a pretty good job of maintaining that temperature. After approximately 3 hours I removed the ham at 151° F. I then rubbed it on all over with a lite sprinkle of brown sugar. I just wanted a little to add a touch of sweetness. I then placed it on a rack that was on a cookie sheet and cover it with a clean cloth. Use what you want to cover it so that the ham stays warm and the sugar melts.
Let your ham set here for about 30 - 45 minutes and then place uncovered in your refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. You want to drop the temperature to an internal of 40° F as quickly as possible. This will help the shelf life of the ham. But as good it is, it won't be around long. And now, wrap it in some paper, or place it in a plastic container or better yet, slice it up and enjoy a quality ham that you made yourself with pride.
Oh, and did I mention, leftovers make great sandwiches.