April 9th, 2012


Easter Dinner

I didn't mean to smoke the Easter ham.

I know that this sounds implausible, because lately I've been inclined to smoke everything except popsicles.And I did entertain hopes of smoking the ham. But Lori talked me out of it, because we'd never tried it before and didn't want to risk screwing it up for a big dinner. So we planned a ham with an apricot-ginger glaze that we had made before.

But it was a rather large ham, and the according to the recipe, to get it done on time, we would have to start it during or before church services. And Lori feared having the oven on while we were out of the house. We thought about starting the ham warming in the slow-cooker, but it was too large to fit. So I suggested that we could start it warming in the smoker, because that would be outside and assuage Lori's worries about fire risk.

And well, if we're putting the ham in the smoker, I might as well add some wood chips for some smoky flavor.

And after church, we thought we might need the oven for heating up casseroles, so we left the ham in the smoker, put the salmon in with it, and added some more hickory chips.

It ended up quite nice, very moist with a noticeable smoke flavor on the edges. It had a very dark shiny crust like that of the black ham from Mother's in New Orleans.

It should be noted that I bought far too much ham. Lori had read a recommendation of a pound per person for a semi-boneless ham. We had twelve people dining, and I padded a bit to provide some leftovers, so I bought a fifteen-pound ham. We ate about a third of the ham for dinner, I filled four quart-size ziploc bags with leftovers to send home with folks, and we have a large container full of leftover ham for ourselves, plus a big ham bone with a lot of meat left on it. (The ham bone seems destined for bean soup. I'm considering running it through the smoker again before putting it in the soup.)

Details for my records: smoked the ham for about 8 hours at 200º-175° (I turned it down because I didn't want to have it too fast). I used about three handfuls of dry hickory chips over the course of the smoking.

I smoked some salmon for about 2.5 hours with the ham. This time, i used two tablespoons of canning salt, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and five grinds of lemon pepper - but though I halved the recipe from last time, I seemed to have more rub per unit salmon. I also let it brine longer, let it dry longer (it had significantly more of a pellicle) and cooked it longer than last time. The net result: it was much firmer and chewier; where a spreader worked nicely for flaking the salmon last time, I think it wanted a knife with an edge this time.

The rest of our dinner:

For an appetizer, we made gougeres, because they are fairly easy if made properly. I had smoked the Gruyere the day before, but the Gruyere was so strongly flavored that the smoke wasn't very noticeable.

Aaron Joyce brought two flavors of deviled eggs:

Heather and Paul brought a very tasty carrot soup.

To accompany the ham, we had fruit salad made by us; broccoli casserole, potato casserole, and asparagus-pea stir-fry made by Bobbie; and macaroni and cheese, made by Charlotte and Juliana.

For dessert, we had brownies made by Paul, cheesecake made by Charlotte and Juliana, and a bunny cake made by Lori to celebrate Heather's birthday.