First Winter Time Roasting/Smoking Briquette Grill Experience: Glazed Smoke-Roasted Fresh Ham

My first real winter BBQ is a 16 pound fresh ham - or as the Port Orchard local butcher tells me: a pork leg. The spiral hams in the grocery store just say processed or overdone and the idea of buying another one for the holidays is not speaking to me. The BBQ pork spareribs I smoked earlier in the year were absolutely delicious! Is it so wrong to dream about your own spareribs? The idea of freezing my bun-buns off to grill ribs again was not appealing but the thought of spending $60 on the store's choices for a holiday ham, only to have the ham pre-spiral cut and me having to doctor the whole bundle of supposed joy with spices simmered in fruit juices made me come to this realization: I can learn to winter BBQ too! Okay, aside from me sniveling about the cold, I am worried about keeping the briquettes at a toasty 300 degrees F. The mesquite wood chips do not worry me. Temperature and timing take technique and practice.

Here are the facts I knew to begin my ham project (once the facts are down, the rest can be researched and planned):

  • My butcher readied a 16 pound fresh pork leg (so I called it a ham - but then I received "the look")
  • 3 chimneys are ready to light briquettes for continual heat
  • 2 Large bags of natural briquettes are at the ready
  • Mesquite wood chips are soaking for 75% of the roasting/smoking period "and"
  • Apple chips are soaking for the last hour of smoke
  • Brining the fresh ham 24 hours in advance
  • Using a Fruit Glaze for the last 30 minutes of roasting
  • Diamond Scoring for brine, appearance, and placement of whole cloves
  • Foil under pork leg containing: 2 c. orange juice, 1 1/2 c. water, dozen whole cloves and 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Use meat thermometer and oven thermometer

(Recipe adapted from Grill It! by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby)

Glazed Smoke-Roasted Fresh Ham

The Brine:

3 quarts water

2 cups dark rum

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup kosher salt

2 Tablespoons ground allspice

The Meat:

1 Bone-in fresh ham (mine is 16 pounds)

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice

3 Tablespoons roughly chopped sage

12 whole cloves


Score diagonal cuts both ways into the skin of the ham with a sharp knife to make a diamond pattern all over it.

Brine: Combine the brine ingredients in a container large enough to easily hold the ham and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Place the ham in the container (I used a large stock pot), making sure that there is enough liquid to cover it completely. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days, turning the ham every 12 hours.

Combine the fruit juices in a small saucepan on the stove top over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir frequently, until the mixture is syrupy (about 45 minutes). Stir in the sage and set aside.

Light a fire well over to one side of your grill, using enough coals to fill a large shoebox. Remove the ham from the brine and dry it well with paper towels. Insert the cloves evenly across the skin in the points of the diamond-shaped cuts.

When the fire has died down and the coals are covered with white ash, place the ham on the side of the grill away from the coals, being careful that none of the meat is directly over the coals. Put the lid on the grill with the vents open one-quarter of the way, and cook, adding a handful of fresh charcoal every 30 minutes or so (I had a chimney with lit charcoal continually ready because of the outside temperature being so cold). Start checking for doneness after 2 hours; it may take up to 3 hours to fully cook (my 16 pound ham took 3 hours and 15 minutes).

Baste the ham generously with the fruit juice glaze during the last 30 minutes of cooking. To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the ham and let it sit for 5 seconds, then read the temperature: look for 134 degree F for medium, 150 degrees F for medium-well, and 160 degrees F for well done; we pull the ham at 147 degrees F. When the ham is done to your liking, remove it from the frill, cover loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.


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