Folks, I have a 22lb whole pork leg my wife picked up at Costco. It has skin on it still. I've cooked a few pork butts and shoulders in my day, and did a couple of whole pork legs (piernas) on my offset for Xmas time. I was debating to use my CS or the offset this time. The CS would of course be the easiest way to do this but in my offset I do get some pretty good bark and crunch on that skin. Debating to brine or not, but thinking a dry brine for 24 hours prior. I'd score the skin/fat prior and do the traditional mustard rub then add my spice rub. If using the CS what temp and how much wood might I use? I found little to no posts on here about pork legs. Thanks, and Happy Holidays to all!
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Wow, big question. I've never done or seen this done. I am thinking a 22 lb leg must be similar to a 22 lb pork but, except for all the fat and skin on the outside. I guess if I had the choice I'd go with the CS since at least you don't have to tend it all night and all the next day. On the other hand, tending the drip pan might be required! I'd also guess that the increased bone mass might need a longer cook time. Just a couple thoughts from someone with no actual knowledge. Good luck, and please report back, because I've seen some legs like this recently and am very curious.
Jay, it seems the term Leg, Butt and Shoulder get intermixed. So it still isn't exactly clear what I have! I have to unwrap it and get a good look, if it is more lean or has a good level of fat and marbling. All I know is it will be good! This morning I'll start my dry brine. This is for dinner on Friday evening (24th) so I have time to maybe start it late Thursday evening and wrap it up by early Friday afternoon.
Meantime here is some more info on the subject:
About whole pork leg
OK, so it is opened, rinsed and now the skin (which is on one side only) is scored. This is a Fresh Ham or Bone In Leg of Pork, Whole. 22.71lbs! I will inject with a salt/sugar solution, maybe add a few spices to injection, and then I'll mustard and rub the outside and let stand in fridge for 24 hours. Plan is to start smoking at 250 F tomorrow evening expecting a 10-12 hour smoke, and then pull at near 190, and finish in oven on high bake or broil skin up to get my crispy skin. I'll use Hickory Wood, maybe two sets of two pieces so I get a longer smoking period (4-6 hours), then rest of time will just be getting core up to temp.
I injected with a solution of brown sugar, salt, Worcestire, and crystal hot sauce. Then coated well with Yellow Mustard and rubbed with a mix of Butt Rub, Cayenne, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin, garlic and onion powder. Wrapped in plastic and back in the fridge till tomorrow.
Looks fantastic! Wow, that is one great-looking piece of meat! I think your plan is a good one, especially finishing in the oven at high temp for the cracklins. My only quibble, based o my taste alone, is that I rarely use hickory anymore. Just too harsh for me. I tend to use fruit wood, peach or apple, for pork these days. Good luck with that monster! So it looks like you chose the CS?
Jay, my wood chunk selection is limited at the moment. I have chips in other flavors but would have to place in aluminum pouch. Might give it a try. I plan to wrap after 4-6 hours as it seems this is a leaner piece. I watched one guy do this in a you-tube video and his came out super tender and falling apart. He went to 205 F. Just curious how much time this will take, but it will run overnight for sure. More updates to follow.
So 6 hours in temp was 154F, so I wrapped in foil. Had a nice bark on it, some shrinkage noticed around the bone which was now protruding on the smaller end. Overnight I dropped the temp from 250 to 200 as I didnt want it to cook too fast and as of 7am the meat was 192 so I increased temp back up to 225 to bring final temp of the leg to about 200 when I'll pull and rest it. If this leg isn't tender I don't know what to say. The drip tray is about 1/3 full, but after wrapping no more drippings anyway. So this 22.71lb leg appears to cook quicker than I expected, in all now 17-18 hours and I had to lower temp from 250 to 225 to 200 then back up to 220. Should be done at about 8am so total of 18 hours. Probably could have been done in 10-12 hours if I kept temp at 250. Still have to decide if I'll broil the skin in the oven or not, I'll have to give it a taste first.
Note to self: Don't forget to place some foil over the wood box lid!
Note: I added a 3rd chunk of Hickory at about the 3 hour mark. There was still a little left over from the first two pieces.
Photo below is at 6 hours, 154 F, prior to wrap.
So finally at 10:30 this morning I reached 200F. The probe actually switched from 199 F to "HI". I did not expect that. I see in searching this is the end of this probes range. So just turned it off and will let it rest inside for a couple of hours. Unwrap my Xmas present later! Total of some 20.5 hours cook time.
Looks great! Yeah, the first time I tried to cook a pork butt to 205F I was surprised too. I wonder why CS chose to limit the probe to 200. Now I use a separate probe for butts and brisket as backup. Your short cook time is interesting. I wonder if it is because of the size of the bone conducting heat internally.
So around 5pm I unwrapped, it was still quite warm to hot deep inside. The meat was falling apart, the bones pulled out cleanly. There was one section that appeared drier but the vast majority of the meat was really moist and tasty. I never attempted the oven broil for the skin. The skin is pretty rubbery so will most likely discard when we eat it, or maybe place some in the toaster oven to make some crackling. Good smoke flavor but not over powering. I saved some of the drippings for some sauce to add in later tonight when I re-warm it. This came out more like a Cuban pork I would say. It could be pulled as well.
Merry Xmas all!!!
And Merry Christmas to you and thanks for the Christmas present of your chronicle of your experience here. I have to say based on (limited) experience, I'm not surprised about the skin. Great reporting and great data for the rest of us! I'm going to look for a whole pork leg for smoking in the summer, when I really, really love smoked pork.
The pork tasted really good especially after I tossed in a bit of the drippings. I have a lot of leftover and plan to start making Cuban sandwiches, pulled pork, and putting chunks into my "Monday" Red Beans and Rice.
Ah, the benefits of smoking large cuts!
So Monday is the traditional day to make Red Beans and Rice, if you are from New Orleans, which I am. The tradition came from the days when the ladies would wash clothes on Monday so put on a pot of beans to cook over many hours requiring little further attention during the day. Works for me! Tonight New Orleans Saints play Miami and both teams are tied 7-7. I now live near Miami and adopt the Dolphins except when they play New Orleans, of course! Unfortunately New Orleans is on their 3rd or 4th string quarterback, so I don't have high hopes. But I will be enjoying a tasty plate of red beans and rice with smoked pork and sausage! Cheers!
NOLA is great. Congratulations.