Smoked Picnic Ham
January 23, 2011
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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.