Wet-cured, smoked hams. They may not seem too glamorous at first, but they are one of the best-selling meats in America. You can’t get through a holiday season without encountering a ham at least once. Of course, you will end up eating that ham for a week straight, but when it’s done right, that’s a small price to pay.
With Easter just around the corner I wanted to give some ideas, rub recipes, and pro-tips for smoking a ham. So, go get your Easter Ham, or two, and get ready to impress the in-laws. Nothing wrong with a pre-Easter trial run either. Just to be sure!
Step 1: The Plan
Most people overcook their ham for one simple reason: the ham is already cooked! Overcooking results in the meat drying out and the smoky flavor fading away. This is not a victimless crime. No ham or guest should be subject to this mistreatment.
To make sure we’re not losing any of that smokiness – we’re going to take our smoked ham, and we’re going to smoke it again! It makes perfect sense. Smoking allows us to trap in moisture while slowly bringing the internal temperature up to heat.
You’re gonna need:
-A wet-cured, smoked ham (any variety, but ideally quality)
-A way to make it more flavorful (glaze or rub)
Step 2: The Rub and/or Glaze
Get that ham out of the plastic bag and remove any extra packaging materials. You really have two choices for seasoning ham, either a rub or a glaze. My favorite is using something sweet like honey or maple syrup, but that’s just me. Here are just a few ideas:
Plain Mustard Rub
Squirt some yellow mustard on the ham and start rubbing it in. Make sure the whole ham is evenly covered. This helps retain moisture and keeps any additional rub ingredients on. This method works great with any dry rub really. The yellow mustard does not affect the flavor. However, you can use a spicy brown or dill mustard to enhance flavor along with the rub. If you want a subtle flavor, you can even just use a mustard and no rub. Whatever you want – it’s your ham, and your in-laws you have to please!
Sweet and Savory Rub Combos
There are countless combinations of rubs. I am a fan of using cinnamon and brown sugar, maybe even a hint of ginger if I am feeling dangerous. A more traditional rub would be mustard powder, onion powder, pepper, and maybe a bit of brown sugar. If you are into more organic options, cinnamon spiced maple sugar is a great option for a rub.
If you are looking for more of a glazed ham, there are also lots of options. Sometimes just using pure maple syrup is a great. It gives the ham some sweetness but is subtle, so you still have a lot of pure ham and smoke flavor. Using brown sugar as part of a glaze is also solid, especially combined with honey and mustard. If you are feeling really adventurous you can add some spice to the glaze, this gives the ham and sweet and spicy flavor. Chipotle pepper, red pepper, chili powder; all great options for adding some heat. In my opinion, you have to be careful adding heat to ham. It needs to be subtle and combined with a sweet glaze. But again, it’s your ham and your in-laws!
Step 3: The Smoker
Your smoker should be set to 225°. Remember, we’re not trying to ‘cook’ the ham. We’re just getting that internal temp up to 140°. It’s important to make sure your smoker is preheated well. Putting a large, cold chunk of meat in the smoker takes a lot of heat, and if your smoker isn’t preheated will it takes a loooong time to get back to temp.
When the smoker is ready, place the ham directly on a grate. Ham has a lot of fat and is pre-cooked, so it isn’t necessary to wrap. However, wrapping the ham in foil after the first couple of hours isn’t a terrible idea. It helps keep the moisture in, and by that time you already have a lot of smoke penetration.
A good rule of thumb for smoking an already smoked ham is 15-20 minutes per pound. So, an average 8lb ham would take about 3 hours. Even though the ham is already cooked, it’s still a good idea to use a meat probe and smoke until the internal temp gets to 140°.
Step 4: That’s it!
The ham can be served right when it’s done or covered with foil and kept warm until the rest of your dinner is ready to be served. Carve it up into thin slices (so the flavor has nowhere to go) and serve.
Place a foil pan under the ham while it smokes to catch the drippings. After you carve the ham, pour the drippings over it. This is especially awesome when you use a glaze and the extra glaze drips into the pan too! Enjoy!