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Cutting a bone-in ham in half and deboning before smoking


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jan 1, 2010
I have a full bone in ham that I cured using pops brine and now I'm about to smoke it. But I would like to maybe cut it in half along the bone and take the bone out . Any suggestions on how I should cut? Thanks


Gone but never forgotten.
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Jul 23, 2008
From "Hog Leg to Easter Ham"  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/89979/from-hog-leg-to-easter-ham

This is how I prepared the finished ham (but you can do this prior to smoking also) so as not to have to handle the ham when hot, making it easier to carve.  There are 3 bones in a ham:

The aitch (or pelvic) bone at the bottom, the femur bone in the middle, and the hock bones at the top.  This describes removing the bottom and top bones, leaving the femur in; but once the two are removed it is a simple matter of removing the femur, slitting down it and taking it out.  Then you can tie up the ham and smoke it, tying the strings around it perpendicular to the bones. 

[h3]The Final (hog!) Leg..[/h3]**Before starting, let me expressly and emphatically reiterate: meat knives are sharp! These procedures involve cutting close to the other hand and it can be extremely dangerous and result in bad cuts if you are not careful! You can leave these bones in the ham and remove after baking and/or just cut around them. This is to make carving easier. But, don't attempt these cuts unless you're familiar with meat knives and always always take extreme caution!**

It's time to prep the ham. 1st, an overhead shot showing the ham whole:

(for reference)

Next, remove the skin:

Then clean out the top of the aitch bone:

You have to find the hole in the aitch bone and cut the meat from it so you can get a finger in it to help pull on it as you remove it (or use a meat hook, which is safer!). Cut all around the aitch then start cutting a little deeper until you encounter the knuckle. You have to work your knife into the center of the knuckle joint to cut the cord connecting the two, then it's easier to loosen and remove the aitch:

You can see the knuckle on the ham and the socket on the aitch bone in the pic above. Now, the bottom half of the femur has been exposed. (The rest of the pics I shot without the flash because they're so close up, removes some of the color from the pics, but you can tell from above that a nice pink color was obtained thru curing!) Now, for the top to remove the remaining piece of shank hock. You make a cut above the sirloin tip into the joint:

In the above picture, the sirloin tip portion is at the bottom of the pic and you can see a line going into the exposed fat on the right side of the ham. You must again use the tip of your knife to work into the top joint and cut the cord connecting the top femur knuckle to the hock shank, then remove it:

Closeups of the femur knuckles:



so the femur runs in this line on the ham (pump pic, pump is in aitch bone):

Removing the aitch and the shank hock when cold makes carving when it's hot out of the oven much much easier so you're not struggling with holding onto hot meat and bones!

I sectioned off the pic at the start to show the demarcations on it:

Hope this helps!

Next, the dinner! But, I wanted to post this early enough so if others needed to do this before starting their ham they'd see how.

Pops §§  

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Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Wow. What a great tutorial. Thanks so much, Pops.



Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 1, 2008
Pops is the man!

Another great post worthy of a sticky.  As many of his posts are?

I have seen posts wondering what the aitch bone is.  Particularly in pork or beef.  I have always thought of it as the shoulder blade, but on the pooping end of the animal.

Now Pops makes it very clear!

Good luck and good smoking.
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