The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Ham

In summer, nobody likes to be hovering over a hot stove. One easy solution? Cook your Sunday ham outside on the grill. It’s delicious and very simple if you repeat this mantra: Low and Slow.

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Because of its thickness, ham takes a fair amount of time to cook (or warm) through. Using a gas grill on low heat or a charcoal grill with indirect coals, you can bake your ham by wrapping one end with aluminum foil and using a glaze to help keep it moist.

According to food writer Derrick Riches:

“The traditional method is to roast the ham at 325°F, for 15 to 20 minutes per pound for a whole ham and 18 to 25 minutes per pound for half hams. I prefer to keep this temperature lower and increase the time if I am heating a ‘ready to eat ham.’ If the ham is a ‘cook before eating,’ then it is best to start out with a higher temperature. At the lower temperature the ‘ready to eat ham’ will cook at about 20 minutes per pound.”

Another wonderful way to transform a ham using your backyard grill is to turn it into a smoker. The process is relatively simple:

First, soak wood chips in a bowl of water, 30 minutes minimum, or as long as overnight. Popular choices are apple wood, hickory and adler wood.

If you have a charcoal kettle grill, get a couple of cheap metal pans (the disposable kind from the grocery work well) and fill them halfway with water. Place them at the bottom of the grill.

Get the coals hot using a chimney starter. When they’re white, add them around the grill pans off to one side. Add the soaked wood chips on top of the charcoal on one side of the grill — you want there to be a place to put the meat away from direct heat.

If you have a gas grill, make a pouch in aluminum foil of the soaked wood chips. Poke some holes in it and put it down by the burners. Turn on the grill and when the pouch begins to smoke, you’re ready to grill — remember, low and slow.

Cooking time will vary based on the size of your ham, but estimate 20-25 minutes  per pound and check often. You’re done when a thermometer reads 140°F (not touching bone). Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

And don’t stop there! There are dozens of ways to use a backyard smoker, from smoking your own salmon to Spanish-style smoked vegetables (eggplant, squash, peppers and carrots) with a garlic vinaigrette.

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