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Episode 207: Ham Sessions

Ham in a Hurry

A non-traditional ham recipe made with pork loin that you can cure in 4 days and smoke in 2 hours.

Other Ham Recipes:


Ham in a Hurry

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 4 days for brining/curing
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
  • Method: Hot-smoking


  • 1 pork loin (about 2 1/2 pounds)

For the brine:

  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt, plus salt for the glaze
  • 3 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anises
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 quart ice water

For the Whiskey-Orange Glaze:

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cloves, plus 2 cloves for pinning bay leaves to the pork
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Wash the pork loin and blot dry. Place in a large heavy duty resealable plastic bag or baking dish just large enough to hold it.

Step 2: Make the brine: Place the warm water, brown sugar, salt, Tender Quick, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and hot red pepper flakes in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature, then whisk in the ice water.

Step 3: Pour the brine into the bag with the pork loin. Cure for 4 days in the refrigerator, turning the loin several times so it brines evenly.

Step 4: Drain the pork loin, discarding the brine. (Hold back 2 bay leaves.) Rinse well and blot dry. Place the loin on a wire rack over a baking dish and dry in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Pin the 2 reserved bay leaves on top of the pork loin with the 2 reserved cloves.

Step 5: Meanwhile, make the glaze: Place the orange juice, Jack Daniel’s, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves, and pepper flakes in a nonreactive saucepan. Boil over high heat until thick, syrupy, and reduced by half. Strain the glaze into a bowl.

Step 6: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225 degrees. Add the hazelnut shells or wood chunks or chips.

Step 7: Place the pork loin in the smoker. Smoke the pork loin until bronzed with smoke and the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. This will take 1 3/4 to 2 hours.

Step 8: Increase the smoker temperature to 350 degrees (if you can—some smokers won’t get this hot). Otherwise, set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 350 degrees. Brush the pork loin with the Whiskey-Orange Glaze and cook until lightly caramelized, 15 minutes. Brush again halfway through cooking. The internal temperature of the pork should be at least 150 degrees. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving. The pork will keep for at least 5 days in the refrigerator. Serve thinly sliced with any remaining glaze on the side.

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