One of the greatest things you can do with wild boar is make wild boar ham.
Wild boar ham is just like domestic pig ham but better.
Best Cut For Wild Boar Ham
The best cut of wild hog for ham is the hind quarter the same as domestic pigs.
However, you have two choices when it comes to making your own ham, you can go bone-in, or boneless.
Bone in ham:
- Looks more visually appealing
- Imparts more flavor
- Multiple uses for the bone, such as stock, soups, etc
- Has a better texture
- Easier to cure
- Faster to cook
- Easier to carve, especially for thin slices for sandwiches
I like a challenge and waiting by the smoker so I typically go bone in ham but both options are fine.
Curing Wild Boar Ham
Curing the meat is a crucial step in making wild boar ham.
Curing the meat allows to meat to last longer in your fridge, also the brining process to cure the meat will add more moisture to the meat, and flavor from the other ingredients you add.
To cure hog ham you will need to use a wet brine. A wet brine is used because you are curing a large cut of meat, and it will have no fat, unlike bacon which uses a dry brine.
To cure the ham you first need to understand the curing salts. A typical cure for a wet brine will require 5 grams of Prague powder no 1 for every 5lb of combined weight of ham and water.
- Weigh the Meat and Liquid: Weigh the meat and the liquid you’re using for the brine. Let’s say you have 1 pound of ham and you’re using 1 quart (approximately 0.95 liters) of liquid, which weighs roughly 2 pounds.
- Calculate the Combined Weight: Add the weight of the meat and the liquid together: 1 pound (meat) + 2 pounds (liquid) = 3 pounds total.
- Calculate Prague Powder No. 1: Since you’re using 3 pounds in total, you would use 3/5 of a teaspoon of Prague Powder No. 1. This is roughly 0.6 teaspoons or about 3 grams.
On top of this, you will add extra flavors.
This recipe calls for :
- Kosher salt
- juniper berries
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
- Brown sugar
Once you have all of the ingredients assembled you can make the brine by simply bringing half of the water to a simmer add in the brine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining water and allow to cool before submerging the ham.
Set the meat and mixture in the refrigerator.
The curing process for such a large cut of meat will take a few days.
A general rule of thumb for wild boar ham is about 1 day for 1-1.5 lbs of meat.
Turn the meat halfway through the curing process.
Once the meat has been cured, remove it from the brine and pat it dry.
Place the meat on a wire tray and return it to the fridge, don’t forget to place something underneath to catch the drippings.
Rest the meat in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Doing this allows the meat to form a pellicle (sticky surface).
The pellicle enhances the flavor of the smoke by allowing it to stick better.
Glaze For Ham
The glaze for the ham enhances both the flavor and visual appearance of the ham.
For this recipe, I used a classic honey and brown sugar glaze with a hint of orange flavor.
I achieved this by using:
- Brown sugar
- Orange juice (or pineapple juice)
- Dijon mustard
- Grainy mustard
- White wine vinegar
- Add all of the ingredients to a pot of low heat
- Bring to a simmer constantly stirring
- Cook for 5 minutes
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
Some recipes will say you can make the glaze right before the ham is ready.
However, I find these recipes often have too much sugar in the glaze which explains how they thicken so fast.
This recipe will need to be partially cooled to get a good consistency for applying to the ham.
Smoking Wild Boar Ham
The first step for smoking wild boar ham is choosing the wood.
I prefer lighter wood for smoking hog ham, and my typical go-to is cherry wood.
Another good option is apple wood. Some people also like beech wood but it’s a little too light for me.
Once the wood is out of the way you need to set up your smoker for a long smoke.
- Set the temperature between 180-200F
- Smoke the ham until the internal temperature reaches 130F
- Brush some glaze over the ham
- Smoke for another hour
- Brush another glaze and increase the temperature to 250F
- Continue smoking until 145-150F
- Remove the hame and let it rest
- If you want to remove the bone, now is a good time to do so
- 8-9 lb wild hog meat bone in (note 1)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2.5 tbsp curing salt note 2
- 1 tbsp juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 5-7 liters water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp grainy mustard
- 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Gather all the brine ingredients and place in a pot over medium heat using half of the water, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes
- Remove from the heat and add the other half of the water and allow to cool to room temperature
- Place the boar ham in a large container and pour over the brine mixture. Set in the refrigerator for 9 -12 days
- Remove the hog meat from the brine and thorougly rinse.
- Pat the meat dry and return to refrigerator on a wire rack to form a pellicle
- Set your smoker up for a long smoke at 180-200f
- Add the ham to the smoker and smoke for 7-8 hours approximately (when the internal temperature reaches 130F
- Brush the glaze over the ham and continue to smoke until the internal temperature reaches 140F
- Brush some more glaze over the ham and increase the smokers temperture to 225F-250F
- Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 150F about another hour
- There are many cuts you can use for wild boar ham, the best being the hind quarter, another good option is the shoulder. Bone in ham takes more effort to cook but gives a better flavor and the bone is easily removed after cooking.
- Curing salt refers to Prague powder no 1 or similar. See accompanying article
- Ensure that you check the meat all over with a good instant-read thermometer before removing it from the smoker.