Sorry for the long post. I haven't posted in just over a year. Work and life got in the way of most of my smoking and curing activities in 2015. I always read through the forum though. A lot more so lately.
A good friend of mine and I have been talking cured and smoked meats for a while and we both decided to combine our talents to make a bunch of meaty treats this year. He is from Austria, with a long family history of meat curing, He had just built a drying room in his basement.
We started with 50 pounds of smoked and dried brats and pancetta.
I have been enjoying my Smokey Joe minis for dinners but haven't done too much else. Until recently when I picked up a new to me smoker from a restaurant auction. A 30" wide Town Service master range smoker.
It was pretty grimy with old dried restaurant grease. My trusty steam cleaner and some hard work got it all ship shape.
I had to remove the original burner setup in order to clean and rebuild it. So in the meantime I'm using a burner I picked up from Tejas smokers for a build I was planning. The first smoke came out great. A few slabs of baby backs, St. Louis's, and a couple of chickens.
With the new smoker up and running we went looking for our next project. I wanted to do more bacon. Went to restaurant depot for some belly slabs. They had picnics on sale for $1.02 a pound. I had to try some picnic hams after reading all the great threads here. This site always makes me hungry. We got 8 picnics and a couple of bellies. It just happened to be my birthday that day. Happy birthday to me!
We boned 4 picnics and left 4 whole. 2 of the boned got a dry rub cure in vac bags. The other 6 I injected around the bones and into tubs of pops brine for a long wait.
During the ham brining wait. I did bacon and spicy beef and pork jerky.
Now to the picnics hams
They've been in the brine for 32 days. It's a bit longer than needed for picnics but I thought what the heck can't hurt. Now to pull them out of the brine. I found myself wondering the best smoking routine for all these little hams. I've gone through so many of the threads on hams, and I've over loaded my mind.
Since I have so many, I thought I'd use them to experiment a bit with styles.
I pulled them from the brines and vac bags, rinsed them all, and then gave them a day drying rest.
I had bought some ham netting bags for all these and the day we were prepping, I couldn't find them. So a quick bit of trussing and we were ready. Still want to use the bags next time.
We then cold smoked 7 hams off and on for three days. We used primarily apple and some pecan and beech we had left from a previous smoke. On the 4th day we brought them up to 145f to be hot smoked later for the holiday weekend. These will be wrapped and stored in the fridge for a week then cooked. Probably freeze one for later.
We had to try some. It had great flavor, but was a bit chewer due to the low cook temp. Not enough to break down the tough shoulder meat. Damn tasty though. It'll be great when recooked.
My wife had asked for pulled ham sammies. So I used one for that. I kept one straight out of the brine and let it sit in the fridge for a few days while we cold smoked the others. I've done lots of pulled pork picnics but not pulled cured ham. I guessed that skipping the cold smoking might make for a less dry pulled ham?
For the pulled ham, I wanted to use charcoal, so I used my Mini and treated the ham as a plain 7 1/2lb pork picnic.
Couple hours cold smoking with my new expanding tube. Then loaded up for some heat.
Used peach wood, pecan wood, and for kicks used some actual pecans. The mini was more temperamental on this smoke than others. I only had lump charcoal to work with. I find lump less consistent with steady heat than briquettes on the mini. It still worked though.
Kept my temps at 250f the best I could. At about 175 I started glazing it with apricot/cherry glaze and let it go to 180 and put it in a pan to finish the smoke.
It was a long one. About 15 hours total to get to 200f before wrapping and resting. Let it rest for a few hours in a cooler.
Fall of the bone, melt in the mouth yummy. The glazed skin is like pork gummy candy. I usually like sliced ham but I'm glad I tried the pulled. My Wife is thrilled. She loved it, and that of course is the most important thing.
Well that almost wraps up my overly long post. I still have a few hams to reheat and plan to try a few finishing styles with them. My friend is going to simmer one up to heat then chill and slice for Easter. I look forward to trying that. I'm thinking of the usual twice smoked thing, but recommendations are very welcome. I'll post the results here.
I've got to say thanks again to this site and its members.
I wouldn't feel as comfortable trying this if it wasn't for all the great info and recipes I've learned from this site over the years.
Your the best.