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.
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 in a recently launched market stall at Carriageworks, the next major showcase of LP’s Quality Meats' 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-is, rather than glazing and baking.
$50 per kilo, with a minimum weight of two kilograms. Pick up is on December 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24. 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 diet 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.
Prices range from $145 for a half leg, to $298 for a fully glazed whole leg. Orders close December 15. 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-based 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 rotated onto fresh pastures regularly 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.
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 $172, and half hams from $120. A ham glaze (made with Wildflower ale and Malfroy’s Gold Wild Honey is also available for $15.50. Orders close at midnight on December 14. See here.
Whole Beast Butcher
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.
Papadopoulo won't be slicing your Christmas ham order straight from the pig, though. This year’s pigs are free-range heritage-breed females sourced from Cowra and are beautifully smoked with hardwood ironbark by Marrickville’s Black Forest Smokehouse. The hams are available bone in or bone out.
Hams range from five to six kilograms for a half ham, and 10 to 11 kilograms for a full ham. They cost $22 per kilogram, bone in or bone out, and are available until sold out. Order in store or call 0420 710 505.
If pork’s not your thing, or you’re looking to set yourself apart with this year’s Christmas spread, Josh Niland’s genre-redefining Fish Butchery in Paddington is offering spectacular cold-smoked kingfish “hams” perfect for a pescatarian festivus.
The kingfish tail has been cured with spices then cold smoked, scored and studded with cloves. Finally, it comes with a glaze and cooking instructions to make prepping it on Christmas Day a breeze.
Fish Butchery's Christmas “hams” tend to sell out well in advance of December 25, so get in quick here.