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How to tell whether a smoked cut of meat has been cooked?

Knowing for sure whether a smoke cut of meat has been fully cooked by the processor is important because if you guess the answer, you may be wrong. Assume that because you mistakenly thought the meat was fully cooked, you did not cook it completely; you and your dinner guest would risk consuming pathogenic microorganisms, your meat would lack proper flavor and texture too. Now consider the opposite situation. The meat was fully cooked, but because you thought it wasn't, or because you wanted to play it safe, you decided to cook it for a length of time that raw meat requires. In that case, your smoked meat would become dry and tough.

Should neither the butcher nor the label provide you with the information, examine a visible bone. If it protrudes from the flesh, the meat has been cooked to at least some degree. The more the bone stands out in relief, the more the meat has been cooked. This criterion is reliable because, as a cut of meat cooks, its flesh shrinks but not its bone.

When making this observation, be sure you are looking at a bone that was exposed during the smoking process. If a smoked and fully cooked whole ham is cut in half, for instance, the newly exposed cross-section of the leg bone will not reveal the desired information because it will lie flush with the surrounding flesh.

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