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From Hog Leg to Easter Ham!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by pops6927, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's time to do a ham for Easter! My dad was famous for his Fassett's Hams;

    this year I have the means to try and recreate these for my family, what with the smoker and the right equipment.
    I ordered a hog leg from my meat manager friend David Morgan at Green Oaks Albertson's in Fort Worth; it came in at about 17 lbs. with the hock attached, the foot off:

    It was 99¢ lb. I had both my sons come over to the house to watch me process it so they could learn what and how to do it.

    1st was to remove the excess skin and backfat from the lower half of the leg:

    Then, cut and saw off the hock:

    The line drawn demonstrates the butt, on the left, and the shank, with skin, on the right.

    Now, the leg is shaping up! I put it in a bucket and the most important thing was to show them how to pump it properly so the brine gets in around the bones.

    You have a short bone leading to the pelvis coming off the hip, then the femur from the pelvis, then the tibia/fibula of the lower leg from the femur. The only bone showing is the pelvis, or aitch bone.

    This is where most the pickling is done, through the hole in the aitch bone. If you feel under the aitch bone about a ½" you will discover a hole in it about ½" in diameter. You push your brining needle through the hole into the leg in four distinct quadrants: upper left, lower left, upper right and lower right and pump at least 4 oz. of brine into each. Then, you push your brining needle into the butt end of the ham and brine around the pelvic knuckle, then in the top where the hock was and brine around the upper femur knuckle, then lastly into the sirloin tip portion and along the femur bone. You have now added about 28 oz. of brine to the leg, or about 10% of it's weight all in and around the 3-bone structure of the ham. Now, the meat can cure from both the outside-in and the inside-out, eliminating sour-bone and interior spoilage before it's cured all the way through! Pictures show the brining needle through the hole in the aitch bone:

    Brine is:

    1 gal. cold water
    1 cup salt
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp. DQ Cure (or any #1 cure, but not Tenderquick with salt added)

    Once injected, put into 5 gal. bucket and cover completely with brine (took 2 gallons to do so) until ham is floating, then hold down with a gallon ziploc bag half full of water. Put in refrigerator for 30 days.

    I skinned the fat off the strip I took off, cut into ½" cubes and it's in the oven rendering down for lard! I saved the hock to add to saurkraut some evening!

    I will pull this from the brine Saturday evening, March 27th, and leave in refrigerator overnight to dry. I'll stockinette it Sunday morning and smoke and cook to 140° internal, then refrigerate until Easter Sunday, and then heat to 155° internal in the oven, about 15 min. a lb. and serve! I'll bone it out into it's subprimal sections (sirloin tip, top round, bottom round/eye, hock) and serve sliced for dinner!
    I'll post pics along the way!
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  2. smokingohiobutcher

    smokingohiobutcher Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Can't wait to see it pops! Nothing being mass produced today can even compare to a nice "old fashioned" smoked ham.
  3. ramfan

    ramfan Newbie

    wow, looks great. school is in session for me. Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures as it progresses.
  4. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wow what a work of art you have going on there. [​IMG]
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Pops you are a wealth of knowledge I just wish we lived closer together so I could get some hands on education. I think I may in the next few days try to find or order that cut of meat and see if I can do what you have shown us.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us [​IMG]
  6. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Started out as white fat off the skin, cut up into small chunks (didn't get a pic going into the oven, but it came from this flap, just skinned and chopped up):

    After baking at 300° for about 4 hours, this is what it looked like:

    I strained off the grease, separating it from the deep-fried fat shells:

    Just fit into an extra large coffee cup

    let set overnight and it's solidified into 2 cups (large coffee cup holds 2 cups) of nice pure lard for pies! Momma says she'll make her apple pie for Easter for dessert, we'll check it out then along with the ham!

    Gave PJ a couple of the remnants; she wanted more but she doesn't need much more lard, lol!

    I packaged up the skin and froze it, when I get a chance I'll deepfry it for snacks! You just don't let anything go to waste on a pig!
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  7. mr mac

    mr mac Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I trust you'll keep us posted! So far it looks pretty darned good from here!
  8. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Looks great Pops! Thanks for posting this. I've been looking forward to seeing it since you mentioned what you were going to do. I'll be following this thread for sure!

    And I will be doing one myself at some point.

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!!

  9. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, it's been exactly a month and last night I pulled the hog leg from the brine, did a fry test and it was fine, sacked it in stockinette and hung it in the smokehouse overnight. I started it up about 6:30 this morning, it's humming along at around 240°, here's a picture at 8:30 after a few handfulls of chunks (a few every half hour or so):

    I'll probe it in a while and see how the internal is doing!
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  10. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Nice work on the ham, glad I read all the way through the post, I was going to ask if you netted, but then you did....

    Hams are great, the transformation of pork to ham is just magic!
  11. northern greenhorn

    northern greenhorn Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Looking good, and very educational, [​IMG]
  12. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That looks mighty fine indeed, pops. I'd have to have someone hold my hand before I'd be able to cure my own ham. I'd love to learn how to cure a country ham, too. That's one thing I miss about living in NC, I could pick up a Smithfield in the grocery store for about $2-$2.50/lb. I haven't found any around these parts yet.

    I'm gonna do a ham for Easter, too, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for tips.
  13. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now this is the real thing here now pops. I have to try it one day. I'm smoking a ham for the group this weekend and I'll post it but I want to try this one next time I do a whole fresh ham for sure. You have me on pins and needles know how it comes out but I still want to see it to the end.
  14. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    In progress! Had a burp, ran out of propane, went to Wallyworld and got an exchange, satisfied with how long the first tank lasted, approx. 17 hrs. of fire time. Changed it up, didn't lose any internal temp (actually went up a couple degrees while I was gone!). Back purring at 245° now. Internal is right at 100°, not bad for 5½ hrs. Snapped this while the chunks were taking off, a little smokey, but you should be able to see the color developing on the ham:

    I"ll pull it at 140°-145°, let rest for 30 minutes, then into the fridge until Easter morning and will take to our son's house to bake to 150°-155°! I'll show how I process it before baking too, removing the skin, aitch and the leg knuckle bones 1st so only the femur is left. Makes carving a whole lot easier!
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ham hit 140° internal, it is now considered a 'raw', or uncooked, ham; no longer a hog leg (fresh pork)! Here it is out of the smoker in it's stockinette:

    Out of the stockinette on the block:

    And, of course, sampled! It is stupendous! I had to force myself to put it in the back fridge before I stood there, boned it out and ate it right on the spot!

    Let it sleep in the fridge for a week and bake it for Easter! I'll post pics then!

    Three Generations of Fassett's Hams... Pops (George Sr.), George (J.R.) Jr., and George III, aka Trey and/or Bubba!

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
    oldsalty likes this.
  16. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent post Pops, thanks for sharing all the great info...Nice looking hams in that last picture too :)
  17. flyfishjeep

    flyfishjeep Smoking Fanatic

    What a wonderful tradition to pass down. It all looks so tasty too! Looking forward to Easter Sunday and to see the pics. Great work!
  18. beautifully done what kind of wood did you choose for your smoke?
  19. wow that is one heck of a process for ham! Looking very good!
  20. That looked great!! thanks for sharing