Sure, Christmas is an opportunity to spend special time with family and close friends, slow down and reflect on the year that’s passed and all the things that truly matter.
But choose the right Christmas ham to throw into the centre of the table and it’s also a great time to cement your rep as a culinary legend.
Get your carving knives and cranberry sauce ready – here are some of Sydney’s must-buy hams.
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LP’s Quality Meats
Appearing on the menus of places such as Bella Brutta (which is also owned by LP’s) and Continental Deli, as well as at its market stall at Carriageworks, the next major showcase of its remarkable cured meats will be your Christmas spread.
At LP’s Quality Meats, free-range Borrowdale pork sourced from family farmers is smoked over applewood and ironbark in its Southern Pride smoker.
Made with the kind of care this Chippendale diner and deli is known for, and produced without phosphates and with minimal salt, these easy-carve hams are sweet and smoky. Because they’re very lean it’s recommended you eat as they are, rather than glazing and baking. LP’s is only doing a small run of half leg, deboned hams this year, so pre-order yours soon.
LP’s is not taking pre-orders for ham this year. Their hams will be sold at the two Carriageworks’ markets leading up to Christmas on December 16 from 8am–1pm (or until sold out) and December 23 from 8am–3pm (or until sold out). See here.
It comes as no surprise that a Christmas ham from the country’s most celebrated butcher is a work of art.
It starts with Black Berkshire pigs, raised in eco pens in northern NSW on a diet of, among other things, wheat, barley, corn and macadamia nuts; a regime that creates a richly savoury flavour and consistent marbling of fat for supreme juiciness.
To prepare the Victor Churchill hams, the prized pork legs are slowly cured using a 25-year-old family recipe, then smoked for 12 hours over beechwood. They’re available unglazed, or glazed, studded with cloves and baked.
A full leg of glazed ham (8–9 kilograms; feeds up to 18) costs $450. Bone-in half legs (3.5-4 kilograms; feeds six people) are available for $175. Orders close December 10 for delivery between December 18 and 24. See here.
Feather and Bone
Buy any cut of meat from Feather and Bone and they’ll be able to tell you where the animal was raised (always locally); how it was treated (always ethically); and what it ate (always chemical-free food, often supplemented by the pigs’ own foraging). And the same is true of the Marrickville and Waverley ethical butcher’s hams.
Feather and Bone buys in whole pigs, all raised on regeneratively managed, chemical-free pastures on NSW farms, with a minimum of stress. No chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics are used, and the animals are regularly rotated onto fresh pastures to ensure plant and land health. The breeds reared on these farms are chosen to suit the landscape and climate, which means slower growing, strong and resilient beasts. Each ham is labelled with the farm it came from.
The legs are brined in salt and sugar, then carefully smoked in a process designed to preserve the exceptional natural flavour of the meat.
“When you start with really good pork, you don’t want to mask the flavour in the transformation from pork to ham by over-brining or smoking,” Feather and Bone co-owner Laura Dalrymple tells Broadsheet.
Whole hams are available from $230 (deboned), or from $218 for bone-in; half-leg hams start at $155. Feather and Bone will glaze your ham for you for $83; it can also skin and score your ham for $24.50. Orders close at midnight December 14. See here.
Whole Beast Butchery
Whole Beast Butchery’s Marcus Papadopoulo does things a little differently. At his Marrickville storefront you won't find a meat cabinet, piles of sausages and that fake grass a lot of butchers have. Instead, Papadopoulo carves your order straight from the beasts he keeps in the cool room out the back.
This year’s pigs are produced in-house, and smoked over Australian ironbark wood. All hams are bone-in.
Hams range from five to six kilograms for a half ham, and 10 to 12 kilograms for a full ham. They cost $28.95 per kilogram. Order in store or call 0420 710 505.
Haverick supplies premium meats to Merivale, Aria and more. But during Christmas it opens its store to the public, selling Christmas cake, turkey, pork roasts and, of course, ham.
The hams are from rare-breed Black Berkshire pigs, reared by a boutique farmer in Byron Bay. They have a high marble grade and fat content, meaning that, if you like a cooked ham, it’ll retain moisture in the oven. Haverick double-smokes and cures its hams, giving them a richly caramelised outer crust and deeply smoky flavour.
Bone-in whole-leg hams (8–9 kilograms) are $197.10. Boneless, double-smoked hams (5–6 kilograms) are $173.40. Delivery only, delivery dates December 19 and 21. Orders must be in by December 12. See here.
Vic’s Meat Market
The hams at Vic’s Meat Market are hand-chosen from Australian-reared “little porkers”, meaning they’re more petite than your average. Its juicy baby whole-leg hams are smoked over beechwood for 12 hours, yielding a sweet and moist meat. These hams clock in at 4 to 8 kilograms, enough to feed eight to 14 people, meaning you won’t be left with an overwhelming amount of ham on Boxing Day.
For the ultimate Christmas table centrepiece, opt for Vic’s glazing kit – it comes with a baby leg ham, Victor Churchill’s house-made glaze – maple syrup, mustard powder and apple cider vinegar – cloves for studding, a pastry brush and a ham bag.
Vic’s is also doing a half baby leg ham, which feeds up to six people, ideal for smaller Christmas gatherings.
Whole baby leg hams from $225. Borrowdale free-range half-leg hams cost $185. The glazing kit is $50. Order by December 10 for delivery between December 18 and 23. See here.
Ardi’s Block to Grill
Surry Hills artisan butcher Ardi’s sources its hams from a boutique farm in Cowra, and over the years owner Ardi Edgu has developed a relationship with the farmer so he can hand-pick the absolute best product. The hams – sold bone-in only – are double-smoked in an “old-style” smoker.
Hams are $29.99 per kilogram, and sold as a whole leg, or a half leg from the chump end or half shank. Email email@example.com for an order form, or drop in to the Surry Hills store to place your order. See here.
Australian Meat Emporium
This year, mega meat-market Australian Meat Emporium is stocking Australian-grown, antibiotic-free Borrowdale free-range hams, available both as a half and whole leg. They’re double-smoked over beechwood.
For smaller groups, it’s also selling premium boneless hams, from the German Butchery in Bexley North. These award-winning hams, from Australian pigs, are triple-smoked over German beechwood. The Prager is ready for glazing, or opt out of doing the hard yards yourself and go for the Prazska Sunka, which is already coated in a smoky glaze.
Borrowdale hams are $19.99 per kilogram. Boneless hams are $26.99 a kilogram for the Prager, and $29.99 for the Prazska Sunka. Click and collect cut off is December 15 at 7am; pick-up available until December 23. Order by 7am on December 15 for delivery until December 19 (delivery date dependent on location). Hams will also be available in-store. See here.
This article was originally published on December 4, 2022. It has since been updated to reflect new information and remove out-of-date details.