I love the flavour of smoked meats, such as ham, and have wondered if it would be achievable to to do some smoking in a domestic environment? Would I need to hot-smoke, or cold-smoke? what would the smallest practical amount to attempt?
Always hot smoke pork. Unless you know what you're doing. In which case you'd know that.
Look at this for ideas on how to make a cheap home smoker that will work for you.
In general, you need:
- a heat source (hot plate works well)
- container for wood chips/sawdust (skillet works and helps modulate and spread heat)
- housing (any kind of box thing: cardboard, wood, ceramic, an existing grill... it just needs to seal and maintain a bit of heat)
- a rack for the food to be smoked (or you could use rope and hang food as in smoke houses)
- thermometer (poke it into the top or the side to keep an eye on things)
Put it all together, put the sawdust into the skillet, turn it on, and adjust for desired temperature. I'd recommend 200-250 for pork.
You may also want to put a second hotplate in with boiling water, or splash a bit of water in the smoke pan on occasion to keep the inside moist when smoking for long periods.
Before smoking anything, brine it and let it sit uncovered in the fridge for a day. This allows the surface protein to dry, and this helps to develop the smoke flavor.
You can smoke ham at home for certain, but I would strongly advise buying one that is already cured. The reason ham is pink, and ham-like in texture instead of white/grey and roast like in texture is that it is cured with salt and nitrates. Curing a whole ham is a moderately advanced feat of meat curing as it is difficult to get the cure clear to the bone in a timely fashion.
I second Adam's comment about hot smoke for reasons of food safety, despite the fact that the modern pork supply is usually quite clean, you are talking about a very large piece of meat. Holding it at a low but slightly elevated temperature for long would greatly increase bacterial risk.