Whether coated in a sticky-sweet glaze or studded with aromatic cloves, a well-chosen hunk of ham has the potential to steal the spotlight on your Christmas table.
So, we’ve rounded up eight of Melbourne’s best that promise happiness on the big day – and top-tier sandwiches for many days thereafter.
This year, at Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler’s Meatsmith, a variety of cuts and weights are available, but go for the signature rare-breed cooked ham on the bone. It’s brined for 48 hours then smoked over German beechwood to give it depth of flavour. (For an extra $65, have it slathered in a glaze of brown sugar and tawny port; and for an extra $10, add on an “I Want To Hold Your Ham” bag.) Meatsmith has also collaborated with Yarra Yering winery on a limited-edition ham. A retired barrique that aged Yarra Yering’s Dry Red No. 3 has been chipped down and used to smoke the rare-breed hams, imparting flavours of dark fruit and savoury spice.
Complete our survey for the chance to win a $1000 Broadsheet Gift Card.TAKE THE SURVEY
Order by December 10 for pick-up or delivery across Greater Melbourne and regional Victoria between December 13 and 24. Prices range between $140 and $380.
Andrew’s Choice Smokehouse
Selected from local farms and cured using a family recipe butcher Andrew Vourvahakis has held tightly for decades, these hams are consistent winners in the Australian Porkmark Ham Awards. They’re slow-roasted and smoked with German beechwood. And, Vourvahakis says, “Whoever buys our ham, it’s like they’re sitting at our table on Christmas Day. It’s our gift to them”. So, he’s selective when choosing retailers to stock them – “We like to think of them as our brand ham-bassadors.”
Find your nearest stockist and order via the Andrew’s Choice website. Prices range between $99 and $279.
Donati’s Fine Meats
Donati’s is a Carlton institution. And owner Leo Donati has worked as a butcher in the area since the early 1960s, serving Christmas ham to Melburnians for almost as long. He uses free-range pork, which he brines for a succulent and tender finish, and then smokes over Tasmanian hardwood.
Call (03) 9347 4948 or visit the store at 402 Lygon Street, Carlton to order. A half leg on the bone costs $25.90 a kilo.
Second-generation family-run butcher Hagen’s Organics has been around since the ’80s and now has a handful of locations across the city. The team works closely with local farmers, and the pork pick is McIvor Farm Foods in the Mitchell Shire town of Tooborac. The free-range, grain-fed Berkshire pork makes for sweet, marbled meat that works well for Christmas ham. And whether you choose the 2.5-kilo boneless or the eight-kilo ham on the bone, the serving suggestion remains the same: glazed with the Hagen’s blend of cherry and gin, and served warm alongside steamed greens and roast potatoes.
Order by December 17 for pick-up or Victoria-wide delivery.
Gamekeepers supplies to some of Melbourne’s best restaurants – Nomad and Aru among them. Its Berkshire pork Christmas hams come from Raven’s Creek Farm, which runs free-range, pasture-raised purebred Berkshire pigs in Moriac outside Geelong. Berkshire pork is renowned for its “juiciness, flavour and tenderness” says Gamekeepers co-owner Jerome Hoban – it’s “the wagyu of the pork world.” Hams go through a three-stage smoking process over Victorian Mountain Ash wood chips, and can be ordered whole or halved both on the bone or boneless.
Orders are open on the Gamekeepers website until they sell out. Prices range between $96 for a boneless half leg and $220. The hams can be home delivered or you can pick up at Gamekeepers in Moorabbin.
The lavish Sydney butcher has opened its Melbourne location – in Armadale – and it’s got some great stuff for Christmas-ham season. It favours kurobuta pork from prized Berkshire pigs, reared in northern NSW, which are often described as the Wagyu of the pork world. For Christmas, go all-out with the eight-kilo ham – it’s glazed with the Victor Churchill house-made blend of maple syrup, mustard powder and apple cider vinegar.
Order by December 10 for pick-up or delivery to most Melbourne suburbs between December 18 and 24. Prices range from $175 to $450.
Cannings Free Range Butchers
As you might expect, all the meat sold at Cannings comes from free-range animals. The company grew out of founder Sam Canning’s respect for animals, so the team ensures all farm partners take good care of their livestock. The pork is sourced from Borrowdale and comes with a certification from the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program. For Christmas, it’s cured in small batches and smoked for 12 hours over German beechwood – expect a succulent ham with big flavour.
Order by December 10 for pick-up at any of the many Cannings locations in Melbourne’s east. Whole legs cost $29.90 a kilo; half legs cost $31.90 a kilo.
Here, the focus is on locally grown ingredients, low food miles, and making everything by hand in small batches. (Plus, the meat-curing process is entirely chemical-free.) As for the ham, Gamze uses rare and traditional Berkshire, saddleback and duroc pigs that roam freely on farms in the Wangaratta area. Half or whole legs are cured in a brine of salt, Milawa honey and celery extract, then smoked over Australian hardwoods. A low and slow steam-cooking method is used to ensure a moist and tasty stack of ham on your plate.
Order by December 11 for delivery across Victoria, or find your nearest stockist here. Prices range from $85 to $390.
Peter and Sue Bouchier opened their first butchery in 1983, and nearly four decades later they’ve got two other stores and a special facility for smallgoods production. Their tagline “butchers of distinction” is backed up by premium products, including the free-range leg ham. There are several options, but we recommend the boneless option that you can slathered with an orange-honey glaze.
Order by December 13 for pick-up from Peter Bouchier’s Toorak store. Delivery is not available for Christmas orders. Prices range from $132.65 to $323.10.
This article was originally published on December 6, 2021. It has been updated to reflect new information, including prices, and remove out-of-date details.