You many think ham is just for the holidays, but you can actually turn any meal into a festive occasion when you cook a picnic ham. Not technically a ham at all, this cut of pork, also called the picnic shoulder, comes from the front part of the shoulder and often includes the front leg. Sold bone-in or boneless, picnic ham is usually smoked to give it a ham-like flavor, making it an economical alternative to ham. Although it takes several hours, you can bake, simmer, grill, or braise picnic ham easily, making it just as suitable for special occasions as the average Sunday dinner.
To cook a picnic ham, you’ll need:
- A picnic ham
- An oven, stove, grill, or crock pot
- A large knife (for oven, optional)
- Brown sugar (for oven, optional)
- Dijon mustard (for oven, optional)
- Water (for oven or stove)
- A roasting pan with a rack (for oven)
- A large stock pot (for stove)
- Aluminum foil (for oven and grill)
- 2 cups apple juice (for crock pot)
- A meat thermometer
- To cook a picnic ham in the oven, preheat the oven to 325°F. If you prefer your ham glazed, score the surface by using a large knife to make shallow 1/8-inch deep slices about an inch apart, and then make similar slices on the diagonal to form “diamonds.” Rub the surface of the scored ham with Dijon mustard and sprinkle it with brown sugar. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack of a shallow roasting pan, then add 1/2 cup water to the pan and cover it securely with aluminum foil. Cook the picnic ham for 18 to 33 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, as recommended by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. It takes about 4 hours to cook a 6 lbs. picnic ham, and the larger your ham is, the longer it will take per pound. Let the ham stand at least 10 minutes before carving.
- You can also cook a picnic ham on the stove. Place it in a large stockpot and cover the picnic ham with cold water. Over medium-high heat, bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low and let the ham simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove the ham from the simmering liquid and wait 10 minutes before you cut it for serving.
- The easiest way to cook a picnic ham may be in the crock pot. Place the ham in the pot and pour two cups of apple juice over the top. Set the crock pot on high and cook the picnic ham for hour, then reduce the crock pot temperature to low. Let the ham cook for between 5 and 8 hours, depending upon the size. Use a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of your meat has reached 165°F, then remove it from the crock pot and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
- If you love to grill, show your chops and cook your picnic ham on the barbeque. Prepare your grill to medium-low heat. Wrap a picnic ham in 3-4 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and place it on the grill. Cook the picnic ham on medium-low heat, turning it over every hour. It should be finished in 4-5 hours, when the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Unwrap the ham and serve it hot.
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