How to Cook Country Ham in an Electric Smoker

by A.J. Andrews

    Country ham gives you the most latitude when it comes to smoking, especially if you get it unsmoked. All country hams undergo a dry-curing process, which means you can eat them as is or smoke them for extra flavor, but some producers take it a step further and smoke them for you. If you get an already-smoked country ham, you can simply heat it in the smoker. Unsmoked country hams, on the other hand, can enjoy a full smoking session of about 3 to 5 hours in which you can control how much smokiness you want to add.

    Step 1

    Rinse the ham in the sink under warm running water while scrubbing away the moldy portions with a stiff nylon-bristled brush. The mold naturally occurs on country hams during dry-curing and doesn't mean you have a bad ham.

    Step 2

    Submerge the ham in a container of cold water and soak it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to purge it of excess salt, changing the water every 6 hours.

    Step 3

    Rinse the ham with cool water and pat it dry with paper towels. If you have a smoked ham, insert an oven-safe meat thermometer in the thickest portion not near the bone. You don't need a thermometer for unsmoked ham because they need several hours of smoking and cook to beyond the 165-degree Fahrenheit threshold for ham safety.

    Step 4

    Remove all the racks from the smoker save the one in the center position.

    Step 5

    Fill the smoker's water pan to the fill line and set the thermostat to 225 F. If you're smoking in cold weather, insulate the smoker while it heats and during cooking with a thick blanket. It doesn't sound like much, but throwing a blanket over the electric smoker -- not its exhaust -- can mean the difference between smoking at 210 F and 225 F, or about a 1-hour difference in cooking time.

    Step 6

    Add about 1 cup of wood chips to the top of the smoker's lave rock or to its woodchip receptacle. You need to add about 1 cup of woodchips every hour, so keep a few cups on standby. Check the water when you add woodchips, too, to make sure it hasn't evaporated.

    Step 7

    Place the ham in the smoker when the smoker reaches 225 F. Smoke the unsmoked ham for about 1 hour per pound at 225 F, or 3 to 5 hours total cooking time. Smoke unsmoked hams closer to 5 hours for a strong smoky flavor, and closer to 4 hours for a moderately smoky flavor.
    Smoke pre-smoked hams until the oven-safe thermometer reaches 165 F, or about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Step 8

    Take the ham out of the smoker and let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving and serving. If you want to glaze the ham, brush the glaze on it while it rests and caramelize it in a 225 F oven for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

    About the Author

    A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in "Food and Wine," "Fricote" and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.

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