Holiday Tips: Grilled Holiday Ham
If you think you love ham now, wait until you try it on the grill. Sometimes called double-smoked ham, the already smoky flavor of a ham is enhanced beautifully when grill-roasted. Seasoned and glazed, the finished grilled ham will be a show-stopping centerpiece of your table. Additionally, you free up the oven for side dishes when you do the ham on the grill.
CHOOSING A HAM
You can grill any ham on a grill. That said, a pre-cooked ham is going to be easier because you do not have to worry about actually cooking the ham. If you have plenty of time though, grilling an uncooked ham develops delicious layers of flavor.
TYPE OF GRILL
Most grills (aside from small “gameday” grills) can easily handle a ham. You can use a charcoal grill, a gas grill, or a smoker.
GRILL OR SMOKER SETUP
With a large piece of meat like a ham, you want indirect heat. Otherwise, you burn the outside and the ham has cold spots in the middle (or uncooked spots if you use an uncooked ham). To get indirect heat on a grill, offset the heat. With charcoal, just push them over to one side. With gas, heat burners on one side but not the other. Then, the ham goes on the side that does not have direct heat.
In either case, you are looking to reach and maintain a temperature around 300o to 325o. You will want to grill your ham with the lid down. With charcoal grills, you will need to keep vents open to allow some air flow, or the coals will go out. With gas, this is not a concern.
ADDING YOUR FIRST LAYER OF FLAVOR
Start by scoring the ham about 1/4-inch deep in a crosshatch pattern to allow seasonings to penetrate the meat. Then apply the seasonings: whole cloves, dry mustard, herbs (rosemary, thyme and oregano are great!), brown sugar, even pineapple rings are traditional favorites.
ADDING SOME SMOKE
If you use a charcoal grill or a smoker with wood or charcoal, then you get the smoke flavor. With gas, just put some water soaked wood chips in a little aluminum wrap and put that on the grill beside the ham.
KEEPING THE GRILLED HAM MOIST
To keep your ham moist, you have a couple of options. First, you can include a water pan to provide a moist environment and help stabilize temperatures. Another option is to have some apple or pineapple juice in a spray bottle and apply to the ham every 20 minutes or so.
HOW LONG DO YOU GRILL A HAM?
It is impossible to give an exact cooking time for a grilled ham, since everyone uses different grills and different types and sizes of hams. 15 minutes a pound is reasonable guide for planning. In most cases hams stay on the grill or smoker from an hour and a half to 2 hours.
ADDING YOUR SECOND LAYER OF FLAVOR
When the ham reaches about 120oF, it’s time for you to apply a sweet glaze. Glazes typically contain a dominant sweet element like honey, maple syrup and/or brown sugar, cut with mustard and often bourbon or whiskey. Brush the glaze on periodically until the ham reaches a final temperature of 135oF.
WHEN THE HAM COMES OFF THE GRILL OR SMOKER
Let the ham rest for about 10 minutes to cool prior to slicing. Slice the ham across the grain into slices about 1/4-inch thick. If you have a bone-in ham, cut large pieces of the ham away from the bone first, then thinly slice the large pieces on your cutting board.