The usual go-to cut of pork for backyard barbecue is the pork shoulder, but in certain corners of South Carolina, many pitmasters swear by fresh ham. Fresh ham, cut from the hindquarters of the hog and sold unsmoked and unseasoned, is leaner than traditional barbecue cuts like shoulder. Rubbing salt over the entire surface and letting it sit overnight helped season it throughout and kept the meat moist. A double-pronged cooking approach did the trick: We smoked the meat on a grill for 2 hours before transferring it to a 300-degree oven to cook until it reached an internal temperature of 200 degrees. We then cranked the oven temperature up to 400 degrees and roasted the skin on a baking sheet until it was brown and crispy. This gave us plenty of crispy skin to mix in with the shredded ham. A vinegary mustard sauce, a hallmark of South Carolina barbecue, was just the contrast the sandwich needed. Plan ahead: The ham must be salted at least 18 hours before cooking. You’ll have about 2 1/2 cups of mustard sauce.
1. For the ham: Pat ham dry with paper towels. Place ham on large sheet of plastic wrap and rub all over with 2 tablespoons salt. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
2. Just before grilling, soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes, then drain. Using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in 8 by 4 1/2-inch foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet.) Cut 2 evenly spaced 2-inch slits in top of packet.
3a. For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.
3b. For a Gas Grill: Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set cooking grate in place, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 300 degrees.)
4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Unwrap ham and place flat side down on cooler side of grill. Cover grill (position lid vent directly over ham if using charcoal) and cook for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before ham comes off grill, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
5. For the mustard sauce: Meanwhile, whisk all ingredients together in bowl. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)
6. Transfer ham to 13 by 9-inch baking pan, flat side down. Cover pan tightly with foil. Transfer to oven and roast until fork inserted in ham meets little resistance and meat registers 200 degrees, about 2½ hours.
7. Remove ham from oven and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Using tongs, remove ham skin in 1 large piece. Place skin fatty side down on prepared sheet. Transfer to oven and roast until skin is dark and crispy and sounds hollow when tapped with fork, about 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through roasting. Tent ham with foil and let rest while skin roasts.
8. Transfer ham to carving board. Strain accumulated juices from pan through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl; discard solids. Trim and discard excess fat from ham. Remove bone and chop meat into bite-size pieces; transfer to large bowl.
9. When cool enough to handle, chop skin fine. Rewarm reserved ham juices in microwave for 1 minute. Add juices and chopped skin to ham and toss to combine. Season with salt to taste. Serve on buns, topped with mustard sauce.
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Reprinted with permission from America's Test Kitchen. Copyright 2017.
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