Spring has sprung and Easter is just around the corner. Growing up, Easter dinner was one of my favorite meals of the year for one reason… The ham. Nothing beats a huge hunk of pork cooked until the fat and skin on the outside forms a crispy crackling crust and then finished with a sticky sweet glaze. My Gam Gam always cooked hers slowly in the oven, but I’ve come to learn that a Gateway Drum running hot and fast is the perfect tool for the job.
What you will need:
- 1 bone in Snake River Farms Kurobuta Ham (I went with the big dog – all 18 pounds of it)
- 1 Gateway Drum loaded with Blues Hog Lump Charcoal locked in at a cruising temperature of 300 American (or set your European model drum to gas mark setting #2)
- 1 half sized foil pan
- 1 squeeze bottle of Dijon mustard
- 1 box/bag of light brown sugar
- 1 bear full of squeezable honey
- A shaker bottle or two of your favorite rub (I’d suggest Big Poppa Smoker’s Sweet Money and Kosmos Dirty Bird Hot)
- 1 cup of apple juice
What you need to do:
If your ham arrives frozen, make sure it is fully thawed before cooking. A frozen center will cause the outside to overcook before the middle gets done. This ham is already cooked so we aren’t looking to cook it again. We just need to bring it to a safe warm temperature while letting our drum add flavor, texture and color to the final product.
With that in mind, plop your hog directly on the grate and start cooking (you may need to use the second rack level depending on the size of your ham). Keep your drum at around 300 degrees and flip the ham every 30 minutes. Go gentle! Don’t tear the fat layer while flipping. The goal is to develop a nice color and to get the outside crispy while achieving an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees (do NOT go above 140, it is your responsibility to let this ham be all that it can be). My ham took about 3 hours. Your results will vary depending on the size of the cut.
When you get there, put your ham in the half pan and take it inside to doctor it up.
Take a very sharp serrated knife and make diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart on the top of your ham to form little pork diamonds, slather the outside with Dijon and pack on the brown sugar. I probably used 2 cups total. Drizzle the top of the sugared up ham with plenty of honey and then sprinkle it with rub. Pour the apple juice in the bottom of the pan to keep the sugars from burning and put your ham back on the drum.
The sugars are going to melt and caramelize making a sweet glaze for our crust. This will take about 30 minutes.
Bring your finished ham back inside and let it have a nice long rest (30 minutes or so), carefully transfer it to a cutting board, carve and serve – reserving the leftover juice in the bottom of the pan for dipping.
My apologies to Gam Gam, but this is the best ham I’ve ever had. Give it a go and be the hero of your Easter table this year!