Ham leg w:limes
Photo by Donna
What to do with a ham?! I never know. I don't really like ham. Ham is a bore. There's too much of it.  And it tastes like ham!  But I had a big one from an extraordinary pig, I'd brined it using a standard ham brine but did not smoke it as would be traditional. I don't have a proper drying facility for a big cut like this to make a prosciutto. So I froze the thing and ultimately got tired of all the space it took up in the freezer. It was time to cook the beast. An urgent email was dispatched to the friends and family who'd helped to break down the pig, all enthusiastic takers.

Now, in order to get excited about it, i decided to try something I hadn't done before.  Slow roasting it in foil in a very low oven to tenderize the thing, than to cook it over low coals on the grill and bathe it in some lovingly tended sweet-sour-spicy sauce.

The result was Sunday's dinner last week, slow-roasted barbecued ham with a chipotle-honey glaze—a reason to be excited about ham.

Basic Ham Brine, from Charcuterie:
1 gallon water
12 ounces/350 grams kosher salt (1-1/2 cups Morton's kosher)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1-1/2 onces/42 grams pink salt (4-1/2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients, heat till salts and sugar is dissolved, cool completely. You might also throw in plenty of garlic, onion, sage, lemons or any other aromats that excite you (highly recommended). Submerge the ham in the brine, weighting it down to keep it submerged, and refrigerate for a week.

Basic Barbecue Sauce Technique and guidelines for Chipotle Honey Glaze:
Sweat chopped onion and garlic till translucent (you can't over sweat), salting them as you do.  Add plenty of ground cumin and coriander, chilli powder of your own choosing.  Cook the spices then finish the sauce.  You might deglaze the pan with some rot gut bourbon.  You might then add a quarter cup of brown sugar and half as much cider vinegar.  If you like the idea of chipotles and honey, add 2 to 4 minced chipotles in adobo sauce and a 1/4 cup of honey rather than the aforementioned brown sugar. Then add a can of whole peeled tomatoes (what are they, 28 ounces?), and cook this down for an hour over low heat, blend/puree thoroughly, and taste for seasoning. Meaning: Ask yourself is it the right balance of sweet and sour? does it have enough salt? is it spicy enough? If the answer is no to any of these questions, adjust accordingly until it is lip-smackingly exquisite.

Barbecued Ham Technique:
I wrapped the ham in foil and cooked it at 190 degrees overnight.  When I could handle it, I removed the skin (which I would press between silpats and bake until crispy to serve as a snack with drinks while I tended the ham and finished the potatoes and beans).

I rewarmed the ham over low coals, smoke roasting it in a covered grill, basting with the sauce till it looked gorgeous. 

Slice and serve with plenty of additional sauce.  Lime never hurt anything that I know of.  Donna just liked the look of those olives in the photo above, but eat them with the pig skin, not the ham.

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29 Wonderful responses to “Barbecued Ham
with Chipotle Honey Glaze”

  • ruhlman

    peter, fresh ham that i brined.

    chris, i didn’t use extra smoke but it’s an excellent idea.

  • Chef Gwen

    I like the fact that Donna did a color shot instead of black & white. Gorgeous photo and gorgeous hunk of meat.

  • Scotty j

    Can you give a few more details on the skin? I am assuming that you used a sheet pan, sandwiched the skin between two silpats, weighted it down with a cast iron pan and roasted at 400 degrees. imagined it took 30-40 minutes

  • derek

    This is rather off-topic, but for those of you who have gigantic, monstrous cutting boards (like 20 x 20 x 2 or so, is there a good way to wash them? It barely fits in my sink and is pretty heavy. Am I missing some sort of trick or do I just need a bigger sink?

    Thanks. Enjoy your pigs.

  • SusieinMT

    Your killing me food and great books in one blog, I remember my Dad and I fighting over pork skin before dinner. Now if we just had chipoles in town. Yes I’m done lurking.

  • Non Dire Gol

    Michael, I personally think that chipotle is one of the most misused and abused ingredients of the present age—thank you, Bobby Flay.

    They’ve become the equivalent of sun dried tomatoes in the ’90’s. They are in everything. I keep expecting to see Gerber Chipotle Apple baby food.

    And could we drive a stake through the heart of “blackening”?

  • Tom

    @ Non Dire Gol

    I hope you are not referring to Ruhlman’s ham as “blackened”. If you are please go look up the meaning of blackened food.

    Ham looks awesome Michael!

  • Victoria

    You answered my question immediately. A fresh ham. Now that’s basically a different story. I love it b/c it’s usually fatty and can be delicious – except that in a two-person household, there is usually tons left over. Anyway, I will try this as it sounds interesting, and if you, MR, say it’s good, it is. You’ve never steered me wrong.

  • Non Dire Gol

    I wasn’t referring to the ham as blackened. I was addressing the issue of ingredient fads. But is there anything that hasn’t been “blackened” yet—badly—in a restaurant setting.

    Prudhommes techinique was calibrated to a specific purpose under certain conditions.

    Why would you want to blacken a piece of salmon or artic char? Char is not a cooking instruction here.
    I cringe when I see items like “blackened chicken fettucine alfredo.”

  • Carol Blymire

    I’m not a ham fan either, and for the same reason — because it tastes like ham. My mom used to do this one-pot thing of ham, green beans and potatoes, and while I loved the “ham-infused” green beans and potatoes, the ham was just too hammy and the texture feels like what it would be like to eat your own tongue. This preparation actually makes ham seem appetizing for the first time in my life… and the skin? Oh my…. sounds perfect.

  • Lizzie Longenecker

    That is one sexy ham…

    I could stand to have too many of those hams around.

  • Carrie

    “the texture feels like what it would be like to eat your own tongue”

    LOL Carol!!!

    I’m also curious for more details on the crisping of the skin.

  • Tags

    Country Ham used to mean meat from a peanut-fed hog that’s been salted, smoked, and air-dried for at least a year. Now it means cornfed brine-injected meat aged for 6 months, tops. You can thank the corporate robots who took over Smithfield for that.

  • S. Woody

    I love ham, but since most of my cooking is for two buying an entire ham used to not be worth the bother. Then one of the meat cutters at work suggested that he cut a ham down into steaks – a nifty solution.

    After the steaks, I’ve been left with a three-pound bone-in end piece. Slow-roasting and grilling sounds like the perfect solution for it’s use.

    And, sequeing away from hams, because he really isn’t – the composer/lyricist M.R. mentions in the acknowledgements for Ratio, Skip Kennon, is an acquantance of mine. His human partner, Fred Landau, regularly posts on another board I frequent. A couple of years ago, Fred and Skip hosted a meet-and-greet for some of the board members at the apartment they share with corgies Dylan and Toby – what Skip produces in that tiny kitchen of his is delightful.

  • luis

    If you feel something is too hammy or you are tired of eating ham? that is because you are eating too much of it.
    Best way to avoid that, is to combine your ham with other different dely meats and veggies. Also don’t over do it.
    The idea of making the sauce is a good one, the brining for a week in a 128:12:16 solution is risky. Salt is a terrifically difficult ingredient to work with. It takes very small amounts of it to push a dish over the top and ruin it. Almost every dish I have ruined in the kitchen is due to oversalting.
    I have no feel as to how to approach brinning in a logical way in order to achieve the sweetspot of salt content. I can’t taste for it? so its like pulling the thang outa me arse… if someone out there understands and has found a way to do this…Pleeeease share it with me.
    thanks in advance

  • Patricio Wise

    Great photo and tasty looking glaze… have to try it!
    Have you ever done Boston Butt or Picnic in a slow roast over coal?

    Lookie here… after 12-18 hours at 200-250°F you get the famously known pulled pork and the smoke flavor is just amazing…

  • Kristine

    Back to the pancetta post, I’m having a hard time finding fresh pork belly in Toledo. Any suggestions, someplace in between Cleveland and here I could take a trip to? Ordering on line just doesn’t sound like a good alternative(?) Thanks!

  • Chris N.

    Awesome, I’ve always felt your posts are solid and clean content. Thanks so much for posting. Kudos.

  • Paul

    How much did the ham weigh? This reads like an immersion cure at over 200 ppm sodium nitrite.