Cooking a great holiday ham requires you to consider what kind of fuel you’ll use. While there’s nothing wrong with charcoal, it’s underwhelming when you consider how proper cooking wood can improve the flavor and aroma of your favorite foods. With the winter months coming up, here are some of the best woods for smoking holiday ham.
Apple-smoked ham is perhaps the most famous variant. Apple cooking wood creates a sweeter, milder flavor with a fruity aroma. This balances well with ham’s naturally distinctive flavor, which can be lost if smoked too much. The fruity flavor needs a longer, slower smoke to penetrate the ham, which also helps prevent over-smoking.
Another fruitwood, cherrywood is light and a suitable pairing for various types of meat. For ham, cherry wood will create a delicate, sweet flavor and aroma, much like applewood, and pairs best with a sweet glaze over the meat.
For something a bit more substantial, pecan wood provides a medium flavor—distinct, but not too heavy—with a gentle, earthy, nutty fragrance. Pecan is related to hickory wood. It’s a great way to get that smokey flavor hickory is loved for without overwhelming the naturally distinct flavor of your ham.
Because pecan wood burns slowly, it will also prevent you from over-smoking the ham with a long and gentle smoke.
Post Oak Wood
Lastly, post oak wood is one of the best woods for smoking holiday hams because of how reliable it is. Versatile and simple, post oak cooking wood will provide you with a subtle smokey flavor when compared to hickory or mesquite. If you value the natural flavor of ham above all and don’t want to change it too much, then oak wood is your best wood for smoking a holiday ham. As a bonus, if you’re a novice at the grill, post oak is much easier to manage and control.