Smoked Picnic Ham

First, let us clear up a bit of linguistic confusion. A picnic ham is not a ham at all but comes from the front leg of the animal. Sometimes it is called a pork shoulder but that is often incorrect as well since small picnic hams, the ones with two bones in them, come from forearm. To confuse things even more picnic hams are sometimes called Boston butts.  Compared to real ham a picnic ham generally is less expensive and contains more fat. Perhaps because my roots are in New England where picnic hams are especially popular I favor them for their smaller size and excellent soup bones. The one I prepared today was from Camillia Foods in Buffalo who call it callie ham, a term that seems to be of African American orgin. Their ham is salt and sugar cured then hardwood smoked with no added water (many supermarket hams are labeled “ham and water product” and contain 15% or more water).

The producer of the smoked picnic I cooked recommends boiling it or boiling then baking. I chose the latter course with a twist. I cooked it first in my pressure cooker for 30 minutes (after using a hacksaw to remove a bit of bone so that it would fit). That brought it to about 100° and seemed to really seal in the juices. I finished it in a 375° convection oven on a rack over a baking pan into which I poured the water from the pressure cooker, about 2½ cups (I had to add another cup about half way through bakiing). Before baking I removed the skin from the ham and scored the fat. When the ham reached an internal temperature of 145° I shut off the oven and left the ham in it until it reached the recommended 160°. I served it with a baked sweet potato and brussels sprouts.

In a couple days, when the meat is mostly gone, I will use the bone to make pea soup. Watch for the recipe.


7 responses to “Smoked Picnic Ham

  1. Ilona April 17, 2011 at 12:26

    The picnic ham sounds absolutely wonderful. I was looking for a way to cook it in the pressure cooker. I will make it tomorrow and serve sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. Do yu roast the brussel sprouts or stem them? Thanks so much for sharing, Ilona

  2. Linda February 22, 2015 at 10:31

    When I go to the butcher, I have him cut the Callie (Picnic) ham into quarters and then I put either 1 or 2 quarters in my 20 quart roaster with lots of water and roast for 6 to 8 hours making sure I have plenty of juice. I also add some ham base to acquire the perfect taste. When that is perfect, I shred (or pull the ham apart), put it back in the roaster, add potatoes ad green beans and cook until finished. Oh, it doesn’t get any better than that. I also add some garlic, onion and pepper. Yummy!

  3. Deirdre September 24, 2015 at 22:49

    I disagree that the term is African American in origin. My grandmother was from Ireland and always called it a “callie ham”. I have also seen the term listed on a ship’s manifest of goods brought over from England in the early 20th century.

    • Leo Cotnoir September 24, 2015 at 23:06

      As I said, the term seems to be of African American origin according to Chowhound. I tend to agree that it sounds rather more Irish. If you have a definitive source for the name I would love to see it. Thanks for reading my blog!

  4. Barbara November 25, 2016 at 18:47

    Cannot definitely give the source of the name “callie” ham, but my 2nd generation Irish mother would ONLY serve “callie” hams, and always boiled them as a boiled dinner: ham, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Took a while to find out this old term was, in fact, a picnic, or shoulder, ham. Upstate NY.

  5. Leo Cotnoir November 25, 2016 at 19:08

    Thanks for your contribution!

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