I love smoking my own hams. It’s so easy to do and gives fabulous results for not a great deal of expense. And this wonderful meat shouldn’t just be brought out at Christmas. Granted, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a clove studded, treacle smothered, mustard sprinkled, Demerara dusted ham, but there really is nothing better than having a big smokey joint of meat sitting in the fridge for cold cuts, soups, salads etc, all year round.
I love to support my local butchers, but to be honest I often find myself picking up a big, unsmoked boneless gammon from the supermarket to transform into ham. But I know a lot of folk would want to cure their own joints first and see the whole process from start to finish. I’m often pushed for time, so I take a short cut. Here’s how I do mine. I keep it simple normally (unless it’s Chrismas and then I go all out, full on festive pazazz!) so just a pepper crust for this one.
Equipment and Ingredients
Smoker or BBQ with a lid
Instant read or wireless meat thermometer
Lumpwood charcoal or briquettes (and not that easy light muck)
Smoking wood – I used chunks of cherry from James at Smokewood Shack but use your favourite wood.
Unsmoked boneless gammon joint. I go for a joint that is at least 2kg usually.
Lots of freshly ground black pepper.
If using a gammon from a source you’re not used to, you may want to soak it in milk overnight prior to smoking. This effectively removes any excess saltiness from the meat. I’m quite happy with mine now, so I don’t tend to bother with this step any more.
Preheat your smoker or BBQ to around 250˚F. I’m not precious about temperatures, anywhere between 225 and 300˚F is fine. I use my Bristol Drum Smoker and the minion method (a big pile of unlit briquettes or charcoal placed in the bottom of the smoker or to one side of the BBQ, and then a few lit coals added to the pile to provide a low and slow, indirect cooking environment).
Remove any rind from the gammon leaving a few millimetres of fat on the top of the joint. Score the fat in a pretty diamond pattern and then pack on a good layer of black pepper.
Once the smoker/BBQ has come up to temperature, add your wood and once your smoke is whispy and blue, add your meat to the cooking grate. Insert your wireless temperature probe at this stage if using one.
The size of your gammon will dictate how long it takes to smoke. You want to take it to 160f internal temperature and then remove it from the smoker. I can’t give an exact time I’m afraid. My last 2.5kg gammon took about 6-7 hours, but timings can vary.
As an alternative to the pepper crust, you can glaze your ham with anything from maple syrup to apricot jam and add to the levels of flavour with spices such as mustard powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or ginger. Whatever takes your fancy really, and the beauty is you don’t need to be precise about it.
Slice and devour!