Boil ham before smoking?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by anthea, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Like others here, I'm doing a small ham for Xmas. Here in Australia, we usually get hams and keep them in the fridge, slicing bits off to have on sandwiches and things. This one will provide lunch and sandwiches for most of January. It's a butt-end, about 6 pounds US.

    All my recipes and things have you curing the ham in a wet brine, then rinsing and soaking it in fresh water, then smoking it, and then boiling it to cook it.

    Does anyone know why I couldn't take it out of the brine and boil it, and THEN smoke it?  Seems to me the boiling after brining would help to remove excess salt, and then drying it a bit and then smoking it would give you a nice, burnished dry ham for all those lunches.

    Bit puzzled!
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Why even boil it? Just take it out of the brine & soak it. Then put it on the smoker. I'm assuming that the brine has a cure in it. Smoke it at 225 until the internal meat temp reaches 145. It's cooked & smoked.
  3. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I'm with Al on this one to. Why boil at all. I would try it without boiling and just smoke it. I think that you'll like it better without the boiling for it will retain alot more smokey flavors.
  4. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Are you purchasing a ham or an uncured shoulder or butt?   If you have a salt cured "country ham" they are generally boiled and then served to get rid of some of the salt.  If you have an uncured piece of meat they should be properly cured.

    Just not enough information to help out.  Can you please tell us what you are starting with?

    BTW.   6 lbs of ham in my house will last about  3 days! 
  5. We don't tend to cook our hams here, they are a cold luncheon meat.  So, my ham is a butt end of pork. It's currently sitting in a salt and sugar brine, been there for about 2 weeks. I did one of these last year, my first one, and did it the standard way of brining for several weeks, rinsing/soaking, an all-day smoke, and then finally it got boiled, a day drying in the fridge and then into a ham bag (calico bag).  My mother sliced bits off it all January to have with salads and in sandwiches etc.

    I did try to be fairly clear as I know hams are a different proposition in the US.  Here, people buy hams already "done", and slice and eat them cold, from the fridge. When in the US, I see how people bake hams, like a roast meat.

    Now, the guys who reckon I can cook this thing in the smoker... smoking at 225F won't be a problem, I have one of those standard upright cupboard smokers, gas at the bottom, and it runs quite hot.  For bacon, I use heat beads rather than the gas, and can usually keep it down around 100F which works well for a 6-hour cool-ish smoke.  Using gas, I can easily have that smoker pretty warm!  With the gas on, it goes up to 200F pretty fast.

    A 6 pound butt-end with the bone in it, how long at 225F would you figure to cook that ham? (just roughly, I know there's heaps of variables).

    I don't have an injector yet, I had a chat to some butchers who said just pushing a skewer in around the bone would be sufficient, especially for a section, rather than a whole leg.  At some point I'm going to attempt a whole leg, but not just yet.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    No bro, You were clear, you have a Butt portion of Ham (top third of rear leg)...Like Al suggested Brine it soak a bit and Smoke it to 65*C, test in several places, in a 107*C smoker. Try to keep within 10* of that temp...Rough estimate is 30-40 minutes a pound...It will be fully cooked at this point and can be eaten as usual, you can Simmer it if you wish but not necessary.

    If you boil before you smoke it you will get very little smoke flavor in it...JJ
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with others... no need to boil at all as it will defeat the purpose of smoking it... You can still slice pieces off for sammies as this is the way I do it... try it one time without boiling... cook slow (225`) until 145`f and then let rest.. you'll be all set
  8. nate_46

    nate_46 Meat Mopper

  9. Awesome, thank you. i've jotted down those "track notes" on the temperature!

    And yeah, looking at my small test hams I did when I started out on this charcuterie kick, I did try boiling a peice before smoking it, and it was rubbish, definitely not a ham. (I kept careful notes).

    Xmas eve is the day, the ham will become a ham.
  10. Well, this thing got 6 hours in the upright tonight, and my newly acquired meat thermometer told me that it never got hot enough inside, so it'll be boiled after all.  I turned the gas off a while back, and the heat beads and big chips will keep going til daylight, so this butt end will be pretty smoky.  til now I've just gone by gut-feel, the thermometer was a bit of a wake-up! The interior of the meat never gets beyond warm.  How odd that no one's even got a tummy-ache.

    Damn thing's going to stink up my fridge tomorrow, before I get home from work and can boil it. Apple wood has to be the stinkyest smoke ever, I absolutely reek.

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