Before we learn about how to smoke fresh ham, first you have to learn the difference between fresh and cured ham. Some people think it’s the same thing, but, believe me, there’s a huge difference.
Cured ham is a type of meat that has been brined in a special way to kill bacteria. Also, you can tell the difference quickly if you look at the color. Cured ham has a light red color. These are the types of meats that are sold in regular stores.
However, fresh ham isn’t brined or cured. It has a slight pink color and looks raw compared to cured ham. Gourmets prefer smoking a fresh ham, rather than a cured one. The reason for this is that smoking fresh ham always results in better-tasting meat.
Equipment For Smoking a Fresh Ham
How to smoke fresh ham with the best equipment? Let’s start off by saying that a regular smoker is the best way to cook a fresh ham.
Some people insist on using electric smokers. If you’re one of them, remember that electric smokers tend to dry the meat out.
A regular smoker. It does not matter what type of smoker you use, it can be a regular one as well as charcoal. It’s up to you to choose this piece of equipment.
Fresh ham, obviously. Butt cut or a shank cut? Butt cut is perfect for people who prefer fatty meats. It is taken directly from the butt area located on the upper parts of each leg.
Butt cut also tastes a little bit better if you ask most gourmets. However, the shank cut is a piece that contains lower amounts of fat.
The good thing is it’s a lot cheaper if you calculate the price per pound.
- Charcoal, pellets, or chips. However you choose to smoke fresh ham is up to you, but make sure to use one of the above-listed materials.
- Rub. Well, dry rub is perfect for this recipe. If you don’t have it, you’ll lose a considerable amount of awesome taste. So, go ahead and buy one in the nearby store, or order online.
- Mustard. This ingredient is universally loved, plus, you cannot go wrong with a little bit of mustard.
- Aluminum foil.
- Meat thermometer.
The Injector Recipe
- 2/4 cup of apple/pineapple juice
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of salt (kosher)
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite sauce
Preheating the Smoker
If someone asks how to smoke fresh ham, we always say preheating the smoker correctly is one of the most important parts. Truth be told, it’s not an easy process.
This is precisely why you need to make the most of your time. Get the fire going and in the meantime prepare, season, and cut your ham, so you won’t have the need to multitask later on.
Light up the flames and look at the center. If the color hits read, it means the smoker is ready. It’s a good idea to put the wood chips next. Remember, the ideal temperature of the smoker is 250 Fahrenheit when cooking fresh ham.
Smoking Fresh, Raw Ham in a Smoker
While you’re waiting for your smoker, take out a sharp knife and cut the ham diagonally. This will ensure that your meat won’t cook only on the surface. The cuts shouldn’t be more than half an inch deep.
The next step is adding the mustard. Don’t add too much. Just enough to cover the entire area of your ham with a thin layer. The dry rub will stick to mustard and make a nice, crispy combo when the meat is ready.
Finally, pour some dry rub in a bowl and roll your ham in it a couple of times. Take the pieces out when they are fully covered and put them on the grill.
The smoker’s internal temperature shouldn’t be higher than 250 Fahrenheit. Depending on how much your ham weighs, it will need a specific time to cook fully.
15-20 minutes per pound is pretty precise, but we want to finish cooking as soon as the internal temperature of the meat goes up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Useful Tip: If you want to learn how to smoke fresh ham, you should definitely refrain from opening the smoker unless the cooking process requires it.
This is called a bad cooking practice because each time you open your smoker, hot air comes out and it brings the meat’s internal temperature down a few degrees.
Let the Ham Rest for a Little While
Don’t serve your meat as soon as you take it out of the smoker. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and apply further seasonings, optionally. When the temperature goes down a few degrees, it’s time to cut and serve.
How Long Should I Smoke the Ham Per Pound?
As we already mentioned, 15 to 20 minutes per pound is perfect. However, use a quality meat thermometer and finish the cooking process as soon as the internal temperature goes up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reheating the Fresh Ham
Is it okay to reheat and eat ham’s leftovers? Of course! If you had no desire to eat a lot upon cooking, you can just save it for the next day. It tastes even better the next day.
That’s all good and clear, but how do we reheat fresh ham without ruining the meat?
Instead of using the smoker or grill, you might switch to a simple frying pan while reheating the meat.
1. Apply a little bit of oil. Don’t add too much. This ham cut already contains a pretty good amount of fat.
2. Pour more of the dry rub and place it on the frying pan.
3. Put the ham cuts on a preheated pan and let it cook for 10 minutes on each side.
4. That’s it, it’s now ready for eating.
How to Smoke a Fresh Ham in an Electric Smoker
Smoking ham in an electric smoker requires two to three hours. The steps are the same as using the regular smoker, but the internal temperature of the meat must reach 170 Degrees when it’s fully cooked. This usually happens in 2.5 hours, three hours max.
How Long to Smoke a Fresh Ham Per Pound
Smoking a fresh ham per pound requires 15-25 minutes. For example, if you’re cooking a 5lb ham, let it cook for an hour and a half, etc.
Now you’re fully equipped with the necessary knowledge to cook a perfect piece of ham. If this process seems too difficult for you, take it slowly and follow each step carefully.
Well-smoked ham is a perfect dish to share with your family and friends.