This smoked wild pig ham recipe is best suited for black bear and wild pig hams, though it also works fairly well with venison. To make it, you’re gonna need about 3-1/2 days.
I like to remove the femur bone from the back leg and brine it laying flat. I then inject the brine into the large muscle groups at least once a day, to make sure they’re saturated. Before smoking, I tie or “net” the roast into a nice round bundle.
If you happen to have a whole week, though, you can brine and smoke the whole leg, bone-in (see the note on this page), which makes for an eye-popping presentation.
Either way, your friends are going to love the sweet, smoky, peppery flavor of a homemade ham.
Trichinosis Wild hogs and bear meat often contains the larval form of Trichinella spiralis; when ingested by humans, these larvae can cause the disease trichinosis.
It’s very important that you cook all bear and wild pig meat to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.
- 1x 6-8 lb wild pig or black bear leg. femur and skin removed – keep all the fat on with wild pig. For fall-killed black bears, trim away excess fat and leave just a thin layer.
- 1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper (from a spice grinder or coffee grinder)
- 1 package powdered (unflavored) gelatin
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 3 cups Kosher salt
- 2 gallons water
- 3 ounces Pink Salt (optional)
Also works with
Making the Brine
- Heat up 2 gallons of water and dissolve the brown sugar and sea salt in the water. Stir with a whisk to dissolve completely. Let cool to room temperature and chill in the fridge before using.
- Lay the leg out flat in a baking dish. Pour the brine over the meat and make sure the leg is completely submerged.
- With the extra brine, use a syringe and inject the large muscle groups once a day for 3 days.
- Store covered in the fridge. The meat should remain submerged in the brine for 3 days.
- After 3 days, pull out the meat and rinse it well. Pat the leg dry with paper towels, and set it on a rack to dry. It’s going to be tacky because of all of the sugar, but it shouldn’t be wet.
- With the leg open (inside up), sprinkle one package of powdered gelatin all over it. This will help to fill in any gaps in the meat.
- Run the leg through the net funnel. (If you don’t have a net funnel, tie securely with butchers’ twine with a row of twine about every inch in either direction.) If your leg is really large (or your net funnel is not large enough), make two hams. They’ll both be delicious.
- Rub the black pepper all over the ham. You want it to be really well coated so every slice gets a little bit.
Smoking the Ham
- Start the smoker per unit directions.
- While it’s heating up, soak about 2 quarts of wood chips for at least 20 minutes.
- When the smoker has reached 100°, set up one pan of wood chips. I like to use the pan that comes with the smoker, but you can use aluminum pie tins if you don’t have one.
- When the smoker is at 150°, add the ham and put a pan of water under it so it can drip into it. The water adds moisture and prevents the meat from drying out.
- For the initial smoking period, keep the smoker between 150°and 200°. After a couple hours you can let the heat climb to 250°, but don’t go beyond that.
- Feed enough wood chips to the smoker that you’re maintaining constant smoke.
- Smokers vary, and so does the ambient heat. Do what you can to keep a steady temperature, but results will vary based on equipment, season, and geographic location. When in doubt, follow the instructions on your smoker if it doesn’t match what is written here.
- Smoke until an instant-read thermometer reads 160° all over. It’s very important that you test in different spots to be sure it’s safe to eat – see the note on Trichinosis in wild hog and bear meat.
- The overall time will be about 3-5 hours, but it’s not done until it reaches the temperature.
- Remove the ham from the smoker. Serve hot or cold, thinly sliced with coarse mustard.