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 A1 Canteen and Bella Brutta (which is also owned by LP’s), the next major showcase of LP’s remarkable cured meats will be your Christmas spread.
At LP’s Quality Meats, milk-fed free-range pork sourced from across regional NSW is maple-cured for a week and smoked over applewood for seven hours.
Made with the kind of care this Chippendale restaurant is known for, and produced without phosphates and with minimal salt, these easy-carve hams are sweet and smoky. As they’re very lean, it’s recommended you eat as-is, rather than glazing and baking.
Limited quantities are available for pre-order now; $33 per kilo, with hams ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms. Call (02) 8331 9959 or 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 14. Call (02) 9328 0402 or 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 local), how it was treated (always ethically) and what it ate (always chemical-free food). And the same is true of the Marrickville-based ethical butcher’s hams.
Feather and Bone buy in whole pigs, all raised on regeneratively managed, chemical-free pastures on NSW farms. 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 legs are brined in salt and sugar, then carefully smoked in a process designed to preserve the exceptional natural flavour of the meat.
Whole Beast Butcher
Whole Beast Butchery's Marcus Papadopoulo does things a little differently. At his Potts Point 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. He sources his cured meats from Kogarah's classic butchery Pinos Dolce Vita Fine Foods. This is where he'll be getting this year's hams from. The free-range, naturally smoked ham is made from Australian pork and it's available bone in or bone out
Hams range from 3 to 5 kilograms for a half ham, and 6 to 11 kilograms for a full ham. They cost $28.95 bone in or bone out. 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 cobia-tail “hams” perfect for a pescatarian festivus.
The cobia tails, chosen for their dense texture, high fat content and meaty flavour, are pin-boned and scored, then cured, smoked and dried slightly. Finally, for that festive touch, a shimmering glaze is brushed over the clove-studded skin.
Once you get it home, the fish can be served hot (with a crisp skin) or sliced cold for fish-ham sandwiches. Fish Butchery's Christmas "ham" has sold out for 2019, but remember for next year.