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As nice as city hams are, they lack the flavour I want in a ham. Country hams are hard to find these days. I settle instead on a smoked pork picnic shoulder. It doesn’t quite bring back the wonderful country hams my uncle served when we showed up in Siklós. Jenő bácsi went to the kamra and would bring out a magnificent fully smoked ham and started to slice off pieces with his bicska [pocket knife]. Then Irmuska néni’s fress vekni [bread loaf] was brought to the table, which looked similar to the sourdough bread I make, except hers was baked in a kemence [wood fire earth oven]. If you ever tasted fully smoked, well aged country ham and sourdough bread baked in a wood fire earth oven… you will never forget it. Many decades have past since, but the memory of this feast still lingers.


Smoked pork shoulder is processed just like a ham and can be prepared in similar ways. It is less expensive and a little fattier and can range from 2.5 kg to 4 kg [five to roughly 9 pounds]. Mine was 3.70 kg. The hams in North America are prepared glazed and fancied up with pineapple and cloves. I don’t bother with it, because glazing and decorating the ham does not alter the flavour dramatically. But if you want a fancied up ham, just cut off the skin and trim the fat off half an hour before the ham is done. Score it up to the meat, glaze it and when the ham is finished baking, arrange pineapple slices and cloves on the top and then bake it for an additional 25 minutes. Scroll down for the ingredients if you want a decorated ham. Click HERE to my friend Elisabeth’s blog for a lovely fancy baked ham. 

 3-1/2-4 kg Smoked Pork Picnic Shoulder, smoked but not cooked 

• Preheat oven to 350F. 
• Place the whole pork shoulder package in a deep roasting pan. 
• Carefully cut the outer plastic packaging and remove it entirely. 
• Leave the netting on the meat; do not remove it at this time. 
• Place the meat skin side up in the pan. 
• Put the lid on the roasting pan and place it in the oven. 
• The ham should cook about 22 minutes per pound of weight or until the meat thermometer registers 170F. • My 3.7 kg ham took 4.5 hours to reach 170F. 
• During the last half hour, take out the ham [be careful it’s hot] and place it on a tray. 
• With a pair of kitchen shears carefully cut away the netting and discard. 

For an Undecorated Ham: 
• At this point crosscut the skin through the fat layer. 
• Stick the meat thermometer in the ham at the thickest part, but not touching the bone. 
• Return the ham to the roasting pan and place in the oven uncovered and roast until the temperature reaches 170F. 
• Remove from oven, cover and let the ham rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

For a Decorated Ham: 
• Or if you want a decorated ham, using tongs and a knife, carefully remove the layer of skin and most of the fat layer from the ham. 
• Make the glaze: combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 Tbsp mustard. 
 • Brush half of the glaze over the entire ham. 
• Return the ham to the roasting pan and place in the oven uncovered and roast until the temperature reaches 170F. 
• Remove the ham from the oven and remove the meat thermometer 
• With a sharp knife score the meat about every inch and about 1/2 inch deep. Basically you crosscut the again. 
• If using cloves, place one clove in each of the squares made from the cuts. 
• Use toothpicks to attach one can of drained pineapple slices to the ham and drizzle the remaining glaze on top. 
• Return the meat to the oven, uncovered and bake for about 25 minutes longer. 
• Remove from oven, cover and let the ham rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

For a decorated ham you will also need: 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 Tbsp mustard 
1 can of sliced pineapple 
whole cloves [optional]


  1. Oh Zsuzsa, what a beautiful post, lovely recipe and story. I also love that old photograph... and truly, my mouth is watering at the look of this ham!

    1. Thank you Lizzy! The post card is older than I am, but the street view of Siklós is exactly the way I remember it. It was a bit of a walk from my uncle and aunt's house. I have no clue how this street looks today, but my guess is these houses are still standing. Houses were built to last in Hungary and what's a few hundred years for a house built from bricks.

  2. This is the same picnic shoulder ham that I made for Christmas but after boiling it, I cut off the rind and excess fat and baked it 'fancy' with a glaze. Delicious and it provides many meals for a single person. :)

    1. I remember Maria and a very fine ham it was. A ham just keeps on giving. I still have a large bone and 2 packages waiting in the freezer for soups and cabbage rolls, and I still have ham for sandwiches. But we are are hammed out for the time being. Hungarians tend to boil the ham as well. I felt nostalgic for my uncle's ham, now if I could just find a real fully smoked country ham...

  3. Awww, Zsuzsa, I'm so sorry for not checking your post and to notice that you have a 'shout-out' linked to my ham...thank you so much!

    I love your amazing and perfectly roasted lean ham. So juicy, moist and a must make for Easter, again! Hugs,

    1. Yours was a lovely ham Elisabeth!

  4. Anonymous20.2.17

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! My father in law gave us a smoked ham to cook and honestly had no idea what to do. Your recipe was easy to follow and turned out amazing! Love it!

    1. Thank you. I am glad it worked out for you.

  5. I pressure cook my smoked shoulder for about an hour and a half,don't add nothing,good as is.Whole family loves it for Sunday dinner after church,lucky to have any leftovers for sandwich making the next week.All I do is to remove the skin and then add to pressure cooker.

    1. I know what you mean about hardly anything left... with a family. The pressure cooker is a good idea for sure. Things have changed for us, we entertain less and I don't often make a big meal for company. I invite friends when I make a cake, otherwise it is just me and my love. We just celebrated our 50th. We eat less and we couldn't possibly go through one of these hams, not even if we ate nothing else for a week. Haha. Thanks for the note, hopefully someone will see it and try it. Pressure cookers are really great, I use mine for making stock or for canning salmon.




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