Curing and smoking ham is something that every BBQ enthusiast should do at least once. Much like smoking your own bacon, there really is no substitute for doing it yourself – and it’s not just for Christmas. Smoked ham is perfect all year round.

Below is our paddock to plate tutorial on how to choose, cure and smoke your ham. Pay attention though, because curing meat is an exact science. But when it’s done, there’s a kick-ass glaze for you to give it that will just bring it all together.

Choosing your ham

Ham is the term for the hind leg of the pig, there is no other cut it can be made from and still be called ham. You want to be looking for a leg that is pasture raised, ensuring the best possible pork.

We spent the morning at Mr. Baillie & Co in Rozelle where Steve broke down a whole pig for us to get our leg. Our pig came from Crack Willow Farm in Oberon, and was just perfect.

Once we got it home, it got trimmed a little more and then brined for the next 16 days.

Curing your ham

This the exact science part of the process I mentioned earlier. Curing meat requires precision, and getting it wrong can make you seriously ill. For that reason, we strongly recommend reading the Science of Curing Meats Safely over at the fantastic Amazing Ribs website. Use the calculator in the article to tell you how much you will need as far as Prague Powder to cure your meat properly and safely.

Our brine was simple:

  • Distilled water
  • Salt
  • Prague Powder (Curing salt #1)

Exact quantities of this will vary depending on the size and weight of your leg, so we’re not going to specify them here as part of the recipe. You can also add sugar, but this does nothing but add some sweetness.

We used distilled water to keep the mix pure, then dissolved our salts and chilled the water down. Then into the fridge to cure.

Smoking your ham

Once the ham has brined for the required time, remove it from the water bath, rinse it and pat it dry.

Prepare your smoker to 300F (or up to 350F), and add apple wood for smoke. Apple and pork go together perfectly, and we used Heat Beads original briquettes in our Weber Smokey Mountain.

You want to smoke the ham until the internal temperature (measured with a stick thermometer or probe monitor) is 165F. It will be safe to eat from 145, but the higher temperature means it can be eaten for weeks after. At about 150F, you should look to start glazing.

Glazing your ham

By far and away my favourite part of the entire process is the glaze. This is in the last 30-45 minutes of the cook and the opportunity to add some amazing flavours to the leg and crisp up the outside.

There are plenty of great glaze recipes, but our favourite has to be the one from the team at Blend Smoked Honey. It’s sweet and a little bitter, and makes the perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of the ham. I also give it a last minute brush with the honey straight. Here’s how you make it (reproduced with permission):

Blend Smoked Honey Glaze

And there you have it – cured and smoked ham. Make two legs for Christmas – one for you, and one for everyone else. It’s that good.