It can seem a bit daunting at first, sure, but once you actually taste the benefits of owning your own smoker and smoking your own meats, you’ll never go back to relying on the butcher for quality products. You’ve tried your hand at a few things, and they’ve turned out pretty good. However, are you ready for the next challenge? Are you ready to smoke a spiral cut ham?
Of course you are! Read on to learn everything you need to know, because we will break it down for you step-by-step, and you’ll be enjoying your smoked ham in no time at all.
First, Assess Your Smoker
Maybe you use a propane smoker. Maybe it’s electric. Perhaps you use a wood smoker, or you might even be smoking your ham on a pellet grill. Whatever type of smoker you prefer, trying your hand at a spiral cut ham is definitely something you can master.
One of the keys to success is knowing that your machine is actually displaying the correct temperature. A lot of seasoned pros tend to install a small heat-resistant thermometer inside the smoking chamber to ensure they have the ideal temp.
Another critical element is your smoker’s lid (or equivalent). Is it airtight? Will it keep the fragrant air inside well enough to create succulent, delicious meats? Be sure it’s up to snuff, or else you will lose valuable flavor.
Finally, be sure you have all the fuel you need for the entire smoking process. Whether it’s an extra propane tank or a spare bag of pellets, it’s best to be over-prepared for the job, because partially smoked meat is not the ideal final product.
Selecting and Preparing the Perfect Ham
Most ham connoisseurs agree that a bone-in ham is more delectable than a boneless version. A bone-in ham tends to have better flavor and texture. Also, when you’re looking at the various spiral cut options, try to find one that does not come glazed already. Most commercial glazes are loaded with fake sugars and preservatives, and you’d be better off whipping up your own marinade.
If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of selecting a ham, check out this site for additional details. No matter which ham you select, try to locate one with minimal hormone or antibiotic additions, as that can affect your health, and it indicates the kind of life the pig lived before butchering.
Finally, if you’re preparing the ham for a specific event and have a rough head count, figure on about one-third to one-half pound of ham per person. If you’re just fixing a ham because you’ve been craving smoked ham, just be sure you have enough space in your smoker for the size you are buying, AND you have enough people to eat what you’re making so none of it goes to waste. Eat or freeze all leftover meat within 3-4 days of smoking it to ensure it stays fresh enough to eat.
The Smoking Process
You’ve got the ham and you’ve got the smoker – now you’re ready to actually smoke a spiral cut ham. First things first, if your ham is not marinated, you will want to prepare a marinade of your own. A few keystrokes on your computer will get you dozens of recipes, but to get started, think liquid, sugar and spices.
Liquid could include orange (or other citrus) juice, a marmalade or jam, oils or fats, maple syrup or honey, and of course water to thin out the batch. Sugars could be taken care of via the liquid, since most of those examples contain sugar, but some chefs like to add rich brown sugar to the glaze recipe for extra sweetness. And finally, spices are key! Consider adding pinches or teaspoons of things like cloves, ginger, allspice or cinnamon.
You’ll need a lidded pad to go into your smoker – place the ham inside it on a cooking grate. This will allow the juices to collect beneath the ham to use for basting. Using a spoon or commercial baster, pour the juices over the ham every hour during the smoking process.
Let’s talk temperature. Around 220-240 degrees for roughly 3-4 hours will do the trick. Be sure to gauge the specific length of time based on your ham’s poundage. Remember, you can always throw the ham back into the smoker, but you cannot un-cook it.
Final Tips Before You Try This At Home
- Invest in a decent smoker, especially if this is going to be a regular hobby for you. Cutting corners on quality generally leads to an inferior final product. If you’re in the market for a new machine, take a look here for the top smokers of 2019.
- Spend a few extra moments on your glaze. This is a chance to really take it up a notch, and add flavor and depth to your finished product.
- Be sure to apply the marinade to all the layers in your spiral cut ham. Take the extra time to get into all the crevices and between every roll. The finished product will be worth it!
- As always, practice patience while using a smoker. Slow and steady equals delectable.