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Whole Roast Leg of Pork

A Smoker's Diary

On this page you will find a detailed report of the indirect grilling and hot smoking of a whole roast leg of pork - from the ankle up to (and including) the whole ham "bone-in" and shank.

You can smoke a whole pork leg even in a relatively small Weber barbecue, as is illustrated on the Hot Smoke BBQ page named "Brined & Smoked Whole Pork Leg".

Foto van Varkenspoot op de Weber barbecue. Photo of hot smoking a whole pork leg on a Weber grill.



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Barbecue Report

It all happened on a Sunday in February...

07:30h

I first took the pork leg out of the fridge, took the lid off the container, allowing the temperature of the meat to rise to room temperature;

07:50h

Picture of chimney filled with charcoal briquettes, just lighted. While I light a chimney full of charcoal briquettes, the birds in the neighbourhood treat me to an amazing concert.

08:00h

Photo of chunks of oak smokewood in the coal pocket of the barbecue. I prepare my "fat Weber" for a combination of indirect grilling and hot smoking following my own barbecue set up;
In the coal pocket of the barbecue I put 2 fair chunks of oak smokewood from a piece of woodland in the neighbourhood;

08:15h

Photo of glowing charcoal briquettes in the coal pocket of the barbecue. I dumped the glowing briquettes from the chimney on top of the smoke-wood in the coal pocket of the barbecue;

Furthermore:
- Half a bottle of red wine and a pint of water go in the drip pan of the barbecue;
- To avoid burning of the meat adjacent to the fire, I placed a baffle (made of folded aluminium foil) along the length of the fire;
Photo of Juancho's Split Grill - Ready to Go! - I placed a stainless steel bowl filled with water above the fire, which will act as a vaporizer to keep the hot gasses inside the barbecue moist, thereby decreasing the drying of the skin of the meat;
- I closed the Barbecue lid shut, opened all vent holes, saw a nice whisp of Hot Smoke (!), and let the barbecue heat thoroughly for like ten minutes or so.

08:20h

The ambient temperature is 45F, no wind;
I placed a sturdy umbrella above the barbecue; Not against the rain but against the cold;
Put the brined whole pork leg on the barbecue grill;
The herbs and spices from the brine go into the drip pan underneath the meat;


Photo of pork leg on the barbecue grate. 08:35h - Photo of pork leg on the barbecue grate.



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08:35h

Closed the lid of the bbq;
Placed the probe of the thermometer in the barbecue at the top, just underneath the lid;
Bottom vent holes 1/2 open;

08:38u

Barbecue temperature is above 400F; My target temperature for the first couple of hours is between 300F and 350F;
Shut bottom vent holes completely; (The top vent holes in the lid of the bbq will ALWAYS remain fully open)

08:43h

Barbecue temperature is 377F; No smoke visible anymore;
Bottom vent holes to 1/2 open;

08:46h

Barbecue temperature is 354F; Whisp of smoke visible;
Repositioned the probe of the thermometer, seemed to touch the meat which could cause false readings;

08:49h

Barbecue temperature is 363F;
Bottom vent holes to 3/8 open;

08:55h

Barbecue temperature is 357F; Whisp of smoke visible;

09:07h

Barbecue temperature is 354F;

09:10h

Barbecue temperature is 356F;

09:12h

Barbecue temperature is 361F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/8 open;
Decided to go for a temperature iside the top of the barbecue of around 300F;

09:16h

Barbecue temperature is 347F;

09:19h

Barbecue temperature is 329F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/4 open;

09:22h

Barbecue temperature is 321F;

09:25h

Barbecue temperature is 318F;

09:29h

Barbecue temperature is 314F;

09:35h

Barbecue temperature is 307F;

09:40h

Barbecue temperature is 293F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/2 open;
Also gave a couple of firm taps on the handle of the barbecue to clean the fire;

09:41h

Barbecue temperature now 287F; A bit more smoke now;

09:42h

Barbecue temperature is 293F;

09:43h

Barbecue temperature is 300F;
Bottom vent holes to 3/8 open;

09:44h

Barbecue temperature now 307F;

09:45h

Barbecue temperature now 314F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/4 open;

09:46h

Barbecue temperature now 321F; Whisp of smoke visible;

09:51h

Barbecue temperature now 327F;

09:55h

Barbecue temperature now 329F;

09:57h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;

10:10h

Barbecue temperature now 338F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/8 open;

10:15h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;

10:22h

Barbecue temperature now 312F;

10:41h

Barbecue temperature now 296F;
Photo of whole pork leg smoking on a Weber barbecue. Opened the lid of the grill, pork leg has a nice brown colour, seems to have shrunk a little and looks a bit rounder;
- Added 10 cold charcoal briquettes on top of the glowing briquettes;
- Vaporizer bowl stood dry, replenished the water;
- Covered the (thinner) lower part of the pork leg (the shank) loosely with aluminium foil to avoid overcooking;

10:46h

Closed barbecue lid;
The ambient temperature has risen to 50F;

10:52h

Barbecue temperature now 303F;

10:56h

Barbecue temperature now 303F;

11:00h

Barbecue temperature now 309F;

11:04h

Barbecue temperature 312F;
Whisp of smoke visible; Probably the water in the vaporizer bowl starts boiling now?

11:05h

Barbecue temperature now 318F;

11:30h

Barbecue temperature now 316F;

11:38h

Barbecue temperature now 318F;

11:54h

Barbecue temperature now 321F;
Bottom vent holes shifted to a bit less than 1/8 open;

12:02h

Barbecue temperature now 296F;
Bottom vent holes back to 1/8 open;

12:08h

Barbecue temperature now dropped to 284F;
Gave a couple of firm taps on the handle of the barbecue to clean the fire;

12:14h

Barbecue temperature now 273F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/4 open;

12:16h

Barbecue temperature now 269F;

12:18h

Barbecue temperature now 271F;
The sun starts shining, albeit very hesitantly!

12:36h

Barbecue temperature now 276F;

12:39h

Barbecue temperature now 275F;

12:48h

Barbecue temperature still 275F; Nice whisp of smoke!

13:09h

Barbecue temperature at a steady 275F;

13:15h

Barbecue temperature now 269F;

13:17h

Barbecue temperature now 264F;
Opened the lid of the barbecue;
The pork leg looks really nice golden brown now; The skin starts to retract;
- Added 10 cold charcoal briquettes and 1 chunk of oak smoke wood on top of the glowing briquettes;
- Added half a liter lukewarm water to the drip pan;
- Vaporizer bowl stood dry again, replenished the water;
- Cleaned the fire by shaking and removing the ashes underneath (a clean fire is easier to control);
- Turned the pork leg (skin side up now) and covered loosely with aluminium foil;


Photo of pork leg on the barbecue grate, just turned around. 13:31h - Photo of pork leg on the barbecue grate, just turned around.



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13:33h

Barbecue lid closed;
Bottom vent holes fully open;
Ambient temperature 48F now, fairly sunny, but a bit more wind;

13:35h

Barbecue temperature now 334F; Hot Smoke!
Bottom vent holes to 1/2 open;

13:37h

Barbecue temperature now 341F;

13:40h

Barbecue temperature now 339F;

13:45h

Barbecue temperature now 345F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/4 open;

14:05h

I've been away from the Q for a little while, and the God of Fire strikes immediately...
Barbecue temperature has dropped to 231F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/2 open;
Gave a couple of firm taps on the handle of the barbecue to clean the fire and to get it going quicker;

14:10h

Barbecue temperature now 251F;
Bottom vent holes to 3/8 open;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 128F;

14:11h

Barbecue temperature now 262F;

14:14h

Barbecue temperature now 276F;

14:18h

Barbecue temperature now 291F; Nice whisp of Hot Smoke!

14:20h

Barbecue temperature now 302F;

14:35h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/4 open;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 132F;

14:52h

Barbecue temperature now 197F;
Bottom vent holes to fully open;

14:57h

Barbecue temperature now 197F;

15:03h

Barbecue temperature now 248F;
Bottom vent holes back to 1/2 open;

15:08h

Barbecue temperature now 293F;

15:10h

Barbecue temperature now 309F;
Bottom vent holes to 3/8 open;

15:17h

Barbecue temperature now 336F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 140F;

15:22h

Barbecue temperature now 328F;

15:26h

Barbecue temperature now 343F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 142F;

15:30h

Barbecue temperature now 343F;

15:42h

Barbecue temperature now 348F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 145F;

15:45h

Barbecue temperature now 348F;

16:07h

Barbecue temperature now 341F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 149F;

16:15h

Barbecue temperature now 341F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 152F; Note that it is rising by about 12F per hour;

16:21h

Barbecue temperature now 336F;

16:26h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;
Bottom vent holes to 1/2 open;
I decide to keep the temperature inside the barbecue at at least 300F;

16:38h

Barbecue temperature now 339F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 156F;

16:46h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;

16:55h

Barbecue temperature now 336F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 161F;

17:01h

Barbecue temperature now 330F;

17:21h

Barbecue temperature now 312F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 165F;

17:43h

Barbecue temperature now 291F;

18:00h

Barbecue temperature now 284F;
The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 170F;

18:07h

Foto van Varkenspoot na bijna 10 uur indirect grillen in de Weber barbecue. Barbecue temperature now 271F;
Temperature inside the thickest part of the pork leg has now reached 172F;

Took the pork leg off the grill, transferred to cutting board, covered with aluminium foil;
We let the pork leg rest inside the house, covered with aluminium foil, for like one hour to allow the internal juices to re-distribute;

18:30h

The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 170F;

19:05h

The temperature inside the thickest part of the meat is now 168F;

19:07h

Cut the meat, it is still very hot inside;
With hindsight, I could have cooked the ham to a lower temperature, but the meat can still be sliced easily without falling apart;
The pork leg has a beautiful smoky flavour, it is very juicy, and the salt content is just right;
And the most important: the taste is delicious!




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