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 10 of Melbourne’s best (including one vegan alternative) that promise happiness on the big day – and top-tier sandwiches for many days thereafter.
This year, Meatsmith’s Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler are sourcing their Christmas hams from Katy Brown’s Glen Eyrie farm in the Goulburn Valley. While a variety of cuts and weights are available, 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. (And for an extra $50 you can have it slathered in a glaze of brown sugar and tawny port.)
Order by December 13 for pick-up or delivery across Greater Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria between December 16 and 24. Prices range between $120 and $300.
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 on the Andrew’s Choice website. Prices range between $22 and $25 a kilo, depending on the retailer.
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 $130.
Preston’s “non-traditional meatery” Dexter is also getting in on the Christmas-ham action this year. Its whole, free-range leg hams are brined the traditional way (with aromatics such as juniper, bay and fennel), before being smoked over hickory and apple wood. Add $40 and have your ham pre-prepped for glazing – skinned, scored and with a jar of house-made glaze (of smoke drippings, apple cider and maple) thrown in.
Order now for pick-up or delivery to dozens of Melbourne suburbs between December 22 and 24. Prices range from $189 to $229.
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 seven-kilo ham on the bone, the serving suggestion remains the same: glazed with the Hagen’s blend of spiced honey and orange, and served warm alongside roasted carrots and fried leeks.
Order by December 16 for pick-up or Victoria-wide delivery. Prices range from $105 to $251.30.
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 eight Cannings locations in Melbourne’s east. Whole legs cost $26.90 a kilo; half legs cost $28.90 a kilo.
Thanks to Covid-19, this Sydney-based wholesale butcher – which supplies some of the country’s best restaurants, including Vue de Monde, Stokehouse, and Scott Pickett’s Matilda and Estelle – now delivers direct to Victorians. Vic’s favours kurobuta pork from prized Berkshire pigs, reared in northern NSW, which are often described as the Wagyu of the pork world. For Christmas, try the seven-kilo whole kurobuta ham, which is double-smoked to bring out the sweetness of the meat. It’s best glazed with the Vic’s house-made blend of maple syrup, mustard powder and apple cider vinegar.
Order now for delivery to most Melbourne suburbs between December 19 and 24. Prices range from $50 to $230.
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 14 for delivery across metro Melbourne and north-east Victoria, or find your nearest stockist here. Prices range from $60 to $280.
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 whole, pre-glazed ham that comes already studded with cloves.
Order by December 15 for pick-up at the Toorak or CBD stores between December 18 and 24. Prices range from $30.90 to $237.30.
Smith & Deli
If pork isn’t your thing, give Smith & Deli’s vegan ham a whirl this Christmas. Seitan based, it’s rolled like a log, smoked and then coated with an orange, whisky and gingerbread glaze.
Order from December 7 on the Smith and Deli website for pick-up on December 22 and 23. The vegan hams cost $50.