Skip the deli section at the grocery store and make your own sandwich meat instead. This ham is brined to keep the meat juicy, then smoked and finished with a sweet mustard glaze for tons of flavor. It’s excellent served hot or cold and it freezes well, too. This recipe is versatile enough to work with venison or bear as well as hog.
Time to make
3-4 days to brine, 8-10 hours to smoke
1 large hog ham (up to 15 pounds), or 2 small hams, (roughly 5-8 pounds each)
1 1/2 gallons cold water (24 cups)
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. pink curing salt
2 tbsp. whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup honey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
Also works with
- Prepare the brine. Blend half the water (12 cups), kosher salt, sugar, pink salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, and mustard seeds together in a large stockpot. Bring to a gentle boil and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool. Stir in the remaining 12 cups of cold water. You can add some ice to speed up the cooling process. The brine needs to be completely cool before adding the meat.
- Prepare the meat. While the brine is cooling, prepare the ham. Use a sharp boning knife to remove the shank and femur. The shank has more connective tissue and takes almost twice as long to break down as the rest of the meat. Reserve it for another cooking application. Removing the femur is optional. Keep in mind that the meat cooks quicker, more evenly, and is easier to slice when boneless. Trim any tough outer silverskin but keep the fat on. Don’t cut away too much tissue or the muscles won’t stay intact. Use kitchen twine to truss the ham into an even, round piece of meat if desired.
- Submerge the hog ham or hams in the brine and refrigerate for 3-5 days, or about 8-12 hours for every pound.
- Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions using your choice of wood: hickory, apple, or cherry. Set the temperature to about 180 degrees.
- Remove the meat from the brine and rinse very well with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and set it on the top rack of the smoker if possible. Have a small bowl or tray of foil filled with water sitting on the bottom rack directly underneath to release steam.
- While the ham is smoking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, stir the mustard, vinegar, honey, and pepper together until smooth.
- About 2 hours into the smoking process, and every hour after, lightly baste the ham with the glaze. Smoke the ham until it reaches 160 degrees internally in the thickest part of the meat. If smoking a venison ham, smoke to 150 degrees. If you find that the meat begins to stall, you might need to increase the heat of the smoker to 200 degrees. The total cook time will be anywhere between 8-12 hours, depending on the size of the ham.
- Serve warm or let it cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating.
*Brine the shanks with the rest of the hind quarter and add to the smoker for a few hours. It will absorb plenty of wood-smoked flavor and can then be transferred to a crockpot to finish tenderizing with onions, beans, and greens for a smoked hock stew.