With Gareth telecommuting to Pittsburgh and the warm weather upon us, grilling season is in full swing. The remote work schedule allows him to perform some amazing feats of slow cooking over the course of the afternoon. Today, while I was toiling away int he office, he smoked up the grill and turned an average pork loin into a very tasty ham.

In last summer's post on how to make perfect pork ribs, I provided instruction on how to prepare your charcoal grill to generate a a smoky fire that is well suited to slow cooking pork products. You'll follow a similar technique here. To prepare your grill for converting pork loin into ham, you will:

  1. Line the inside of the grill with foil. This is a no brainer as it makes clean up a snap.
  2. Use a chimney to start a couple of charcoal briquettes. This prevents the flavor of the lighter fluid from tainting your food.
  3. Place the lit briquettes on one end of the grill and let them burn down. You'll want smoke for this process, but not fire.
  4. Place fresh twigs on the other end of the grill. These should be small, plentiful, and still green. These will also generate smoke with the added bonus of releasing moisture into your smoking environment without needing a separate container of water in there.

Gareth prepped our pork loin with a dry rub rather than a marinade or barbecue sauce. His dry rub consisted of:

  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

with a heavy hand on the sage and salt.

Once the pork was rubbed and the grill was smoking, he let that pork loin smoke for a good three or so hours. During this smoking process, you'll want to check on the grill from time to time to feed it more green twigs and to ensure that there is no flame.

The result is remarkably close to ham, and a very good ham at that. Our pork loin ham came out moist and tender with a rich exterior rind. It was neither too sweet, too salty, nor too smoky, but struck the perfect balance of all those ham-like qualities so many of us love. It paired well with the vegetable and cheese-laden pasta salad he made on the side.