Video: How to Make Brown Sugar Baked Ham

  • Prep time

    192 hours

  • Cook time

    3 hours 15 minutes

  • Course

    Main

  • Skill level

    Intermediate

  • Season

    All Seasons

  • Serves

    4 to 6
Chef’s notes

Old-school baked ham harkens fond holiday memories for many people. You can cure and bake your own wild game equivalent with this simple recipe. I used a whole feral hog ham here but you can do this with a variety of meats.

The important thing to cure this ham—and give it that distinctive ham flavor—is to allow the curing salt time to fully penetrate the meat to the bone. I brined mine for 10 days. It’s also very important to get the ratios of water, kosher salt, curing salt, and brown sugar just right. I also add some smashed garlic, quartered onion, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to my brine.

Trim up your ham before brining it to remove any damaged meat and glands. Open up the ball joint and loosen the meat around the knee to allow the salt to completely penetrate. And be sure to pour enough brine into the Ziplock to totally submerge the meat.

After 10 days in the fridge, the meat will look a lot different, somewhat gray on the outside but rosy on the inside. After an hour in the smoker at 165 degrees, that nice smoky flavor really develops. Then I’ll make my spice mixture, about the same as the brine, and pack that brown sugar coating on there thick. I wrap and seal that all up in three layers of tinfoil and put it back in an oven or smoker at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes per pound. That came out around one hour, 15 minutes for this 4-pound hog ham. After pulling it out, allow the meat to “carryover cook” and cool in the foil packet for another 40 minutes. This will harden the sugar crust and seal in all the juices to make the ham all the more delicious. Slice thinly and pour over the remaining liquid.

Ingredients

Curing Brine

  • 5 lbs. bone-in ham from a feral or farm-raised hog
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lb. onions, quartered
  • ½ cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Curing Salt-follow package directions based on weight of raw meat
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 qts. ice cubes

Sugar Coating

  • 1 lb. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, salt, onion, garlic, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the curing salt. Immediately add ice cubes, stirring till they melt and the brine is cool.
  2. Trim any discolored pieces from the outside of the ham, paying close attention to any spongy glands or membranes, as they may cause spoilage. Slice off the meat 1 inch from the shank end of the ham, exposing the bone. Trim any meat around the hip bone as well in order to expose the bone. This will allow the brine to penetrate the meat evenly.
  3. Place the meat in a large ziptop storage bag, and pour as much brine into the bag as possible. The meat needs to be fully submerged in the brine. Force any excess air from the bag and place into a bowl to collect any potential leakage. Place this in the fridge and allow it to cure for 7 days, making sure to flip or rotate the bag daily to ensure even curing.
  4. On the seventh day remove the ham from the brine and discard the liquid. Place the ham on a rack over a sheet pan and return to the refrigerator for 1 more day so the exterior can dry. Alternatively, you can dry the exterior thoroughly with paper towels before moving on to the next step.
  5. Preheat your smoker to its lowest temperature and highest smoke setting. This will vary depending on the smoker you choose to use, but the goal is maximum smoke while not cooking the ham. This step creates flavor, while also providing an extra level of preservation in the final product. Smoke the ham for 2 hours.
  6. While the ham is smoking, mix together all the ingredients for the sugar coating and set aside. Place 3 pieces of heavy duty foil, overlapping, on a sheet tray and set aside.
  7. Remove the ham from the smoker and place it on top of the foil with the fat side facing up. Pack the contents of the sugar coating on top, making sure to use the entire amount. Wrap the ham in the foil leaving room for steam to collect in the package, and ensure that all the seams are facing up so none of the juices escape during cooking.
  8. Place the wrapped ham in a 325°F oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes per pound, or until the center reaches a temperature of 155°F.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 1 hour before unwrapping and carving. Pour the liquid contents of the package through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup and skim away the fat that collects on the top. Slice the meat from the bone and serve with the reserved juices. Alternately you can chill the ham overnight before carving and serve it at room temperature if preferred.
Chef’s notes

Old-school baked ham harkens fond holiday memories for many people. You can cure and bake your own wild game equivalent with this simple recipe. I used a whole feral hog ham here but you can do this with a variety of meats.

The important thing to cure this ham—and give it that distinctive ham flavor—is to allow the curing salt time to fully penetrate the meat to the bone. I brined mine for 10 days. It’s also very important to get the ratios of water, kosher salt, curing salt, and brown sugar just right. I also add some smashed garlic, quartered onion, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to my brine.

Trim up your ham before brining it to remove any damaged meat and glands. Open up the ball joint and loosen the meat around the knee to allow the salt to completely penetrate. And be sure to pour enough brine into the Ziplock to totally submerge the meat.

After 10 days in the fridge, the meat will look a lot different, somewhat gray on the outside but rosy on the inside. After an hour in the smoker at 165 degrees, that nice smoky flavor really develops. Then I’ll make my spice mixture, about the same as the brine, and pack that brown sugar coating on there thick. I wrap and seal that all up in three layers of tinfoil and put it back in an oven or smoker at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes per pound. That came out around one hour, 15 minutes for this 4-pound hog ham. After pulling it out, allow the meat to “carryover cook” and cool in the foil packet for another 40 minutes. This will harden the sugar crust and seal in all the juices to make the ham all the more delicious. Slice thinly and pour over the remaining liquid.

Ingredients

Curing Brine

  • 5 lbs. bone-in ham from a feral or farm-raised hog
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lb. onions, quartered
  • ½ cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Curing Salt-follow package directions based on weight of raw meat
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 qts. ice cubes

Sugar Coating

  • 1 lb. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, salt, onion, garlic, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the curing salt. Immediately add ice cubes, stirring till they melt and the brine is cool.
  2. Trim any discolored pieces from the outside of the ham, paying close attention to any spongy glands or membranes, as they may cause spoilage. Slice off the meat 1 inch from the shank end of the ham, exposing the bone. Trim any meat around the hip bone as well in order to expose the bone. This will allow the brine to penetrate the meat evenly.
  3. Place the meat in a large ziptop storage bag, and pour as much brine into the bag as possible. The meat needs to be fully submerged in the brine. Force any excess air from the bag and place into a bowl to collect any potential leakage. Place this in the fridge and allow it to cure for 7 days, making sure to flip or rotate the bag daily to ensure even curing.
  4. On the seventh day remove the ham from the brine and discard the liquid. Place the ham on a rack over a sheet pan and return to the refrigerator for 1 more day so the exterior can dry. Alternatively, you can dry the exterior thoroughly with paper towels before moving on to the next step.
  5. Preheat your smoker to its lowest temperature and highest smoke setting. This will vary depending on the smoker you choose to use, but the goal is maximum smoke while not cooking the ham. This step creates flavor, while also providing an extra level of preservation in the final product. Smoke the ham for 2 hours.
  6. While the ham is smoking, mix together all the ingredients for the sugar coating and set aside. Place 3 pieces of heavy duty foil, overlapping, on a sheet tray and set aside.
  7. Remove the ham from the smoker and place it on top of the foil with the fat side facing up. Pack the contents of the sugar coating on top, making sure to use the entire amount. Wrap the ham in the foil leaving room for steam to collect in the package, and ensure that all the seams are facing up so none of the juices escape during cooking.
  8. Place the wrapped ham in a 325°F oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes per pound, or until the center reaches a temperature of 155°F.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 1 hour before unwrapping and carving. Pour the liquid contents of the package through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup and skim away the fat that collects on the top. Slice the meat from the bone and serve with the reserved juices. Alternately you can chill the ham overnight before carving and serve it at room temperature if preferred.
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Video: How to Make Brown Sugar Baked Ham

Recipe by: Kevin Gillespie
  • Prep time

    192 hours

  • Cook time

    3 hours 15 minutes

  • Course

    Main

  • Skill level

    Intermediate

  • Season

    All Seasons

  • Serves

    4 to 6
Chef’s notes

Old-school baked ham harkens fond holiday memories for many people. You can cure and bake your own wild game equivalent with this simple recipe. I used a whole feral hog ham here but you can do this with a variety of meats.

The important thing to cure this ham—and give it that distinctive ham flavor—is to allow the curing salt time to fully penetrate the meat to the bone. I brined mine for 10 days. It’s also very important to get the ratios of water, kosher salt, curing salt, and brown sugar just right. I also add some smashed garlic, quartered onion, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to my brine.

Trim up your ham before brining it to remove any damaged meat and glands. Open up the ball joint and loosen the meat around the knee to allow the salt to completely penetrate. And be sure to pour enough brine into the Ziplock to totally submerge the meat.

After 10 days in the fridge, the meat will look a lot different, somewhat gray on the outside but rosy on the inside. After an hour in the smoker at 165 degrees, that nice smoky flavor really develops. Then I’ll make my spice mixture, about the same as the brine, and pack that brown sugar coating on there thick. I wrap and seal that all up in three layers of tinfoil and put it back in an oven or smoker at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes per pound. That came out around one hour, 15 minutes for this 4-pound hog ham. After pulling it out, allow the meat to “carryover cook” and cool in the foil packet for another 40 minutes. This will harden the sugar crust and seal in all the juices to make the ham all the more delicious. Slice thinly and pour over the remaining liquid.

Ingredients

Curing Brine

  • 5 lbs. bone-in ham from a feral or farm-raised hog
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lb. onions, quartered
  • ½ cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Curing Salt-follow package directions based on weight of raw meat
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 qts. ice cubes

Sugar Coating

  • 1 lb. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, salt, onion, garlic, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the curing salt. Immediately add ice cubes, stirring till they melt and the brine is cool.
  2. Trim any discolored pieces from the outside of the ham, paying close attention to any spongy glands or membranes, as they may cause spoilage. Slice off the meat 1 inch from the shank end of the ham, exposing the bone. Trim any meat around the hip bone as well in order to expose the bone. This will allow the brine to penetrate the meat evenly.
  3. Place the meat in a large ziptop storage bag, and pour as much brine into the bag as possible. The meat needs to be fully submerged in the brine. Force any excess air from the bag and place into a bowl to collect any potential leakage. Place this in the fridge and allow it to cure for 7 days, making sure to flip or rotate the bag daily to ensure even curing.
  4. On the seventh day remove the ham from the brine and discard the liquid. Place the ham on a rack over a sheet pan and return to the refrigerator for 1 more day so the exterior can dry. Alternatively, you can dry the exterior thoroughly with paper towels before moving on to the next step.
  5. Preheat your smoker to its lowest temperature and highest smoke setting. This will vary depending on the smoker you choose to use, but the goal is maximum smoke while not cooking the ham. This step creates flavor, while also providing an extra level of preservation in the final product. Smoke the ham for 2 hours.
  6. While the ham is smoking, mix together all the ingredients for the sugar coating and set aside. Place 3 pieces of heavy duty foil, overlapping, on a sheet tray and set aside.
  7. Remove the ham from the smoker and place it on top of the foil with the fat side facing up. Pack the contents of the sugar coating on top, making sure to use the entire amount. Wrap the ham in the foil leaving room for steam to collect in the package, and ensure that all the seams are facing up so none of the juices escape during cooking.
  8. Place the wrapped ham in a 325°F oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes per pound, or until the center reaches a temperature of 155°F.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 1 hour before unwrapping and carving. Pour the liquid contents of the package through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup and skim away the fat that collects on the top. Slice the meat from the bone and serve with the reserved juices. Alternately you can chill the ham overnight before carving and serve it at room temperature if preferred.