What all can I do with a fresh whole ham?

Grocery puts these out on occasion between $2 - $2.5 a pound, usually 21 to 23 pounds.

Wondering if i could smoke the whole thing low-n-slow or if there are better options, if anyone’s ever tackled one of these, or has seen someone elsedo so.


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I rarely see a fresh ham, but remember starting with a primer on what exactly a “ham” is, and when that cut is most desirable, as opposed to the shoulder. Something about the way you cut it.

I think I was trying to make a Puerto Rican dish, probably pernil.

Is the skin on?

I found this while looking.

This is the article I was thinking of, but I see it wasn’t about the ham.

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Thanks. For pernil I usually use a smaller shoulder piece, maybe 6 pounds.

I think I might just buy the danged thing and figure it out on the fly. I’m still interested in trying to cook it whole.

I have a long-ago memory of something my foster dad did on his old Webber charcoal grill that might have been the same. It was black as hell all over after about 12 hours, but once he cut off all the blackened parts it was pure pork heaven.


We found a Boston butt last fall on sale for .89/lb - impossible to resist even though we’re a household of two. It was a caveman piece of meat. We still have some vacuum sealed in our basement freezer. I haven’t been able to tolerate smoked meats/cheeses/chiles since going through chemo a number of years ago.

The pork we bought had a nice fat cap - we put a heavy spice rub on it that didn’t have liquid smoke or chipotle. ( Penzy’s BBQ of the Americas.) DH cooked it low and slow on the Big Green Egg. It stayed juicy and was nice seasoned. We use the meat for pulled pork sandwiches - warming it in BBQ sauce (I’ve found a few without smoked seasonings). We use it on tortillas for carnitas. We make a green chile stew with it.


That’s a beauty @retrospek !

Here’s an old thread about butts.

Can someone describe when one is preferred over the other? I don’t think “ham” can be pulled

Mojo pork.


You can always juice it :laughing:

Couldn’t resist. John PInette always could make me laugh.

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giant porchetta

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Never tried deboning a whole raw ham. Sounds like a challenge. I’m a sucker for challenges.

@jammy - love Pinette.

“Father - it’s the meat - it’s gone bad!”

“Say three Hail Marys, snd go eat a vegetable.”

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Remember that a real “ham”, leg of pork, is totally different from shoulder or Boston Butt. A ham is very lean compared with shoulder and needs to be handled differently.
There are dozens of online instructions for deboning a fresh leg. Just be prepared to go slowly and methodically. Enjoy!


I may have shared this before, but I’m a CASA. I find that intriguing to think about!


Can you share some situations where a ham is preferable to a shoulder?

They’re just different. Leg for slicing, shoulder for pulled pork, carnitas, rillettes.

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Update - it took some talking but I’ve convinced my wife that this is something we (read: I) need to do. We always either agree or don’t do it on stuff like this. Funny how it often works out in my favor… But not always, by any means. She’s actually the boss.

Anyway, I’ma buying this dude if he’s still there tomorrow and then figuring out what to do with him.


So it took me another week but I finally bought this whole ham.

I took a lot of the skin off, then filleted it (most of the fat removed) and with some salt and Badia’s “complete” seasoning made chicharrons. They were really quite good.

The rest of the ham I left mainly intact but cut out the hamhock at the joint (knee? joint I guess?) and am braising it for dinner tonight. Another hour and I’ll see how it turns out (I skinned it but left on a bit of fat, browned it then onions/garlic/seasonings and in this last hour carrots and taters).

The main body (remaining about 18 pounds) has been brining for 2 days at 5% salt and similar amounts of sugar and other herbs/seasonings. I plan to drain off the brine tomorrow afternoon, let it sit through Wednesday, then put it on the grill with a bit of smoke all day Thursday.

We’ll see how it turns out.