The good news is that if a ham is on the bone then it is home-grown. Quarantine laws only allow boneless meat to be imported into Australia, which means bone-in hams are always 100 per cent Australian.
What we were looking for in our Christmas hams were ones that looked good, had unblemished skin, were well seasoned without being too salty and that finished with a nice smoky tang. We rejected the overly smoked hams and those that had been too heavily injected with water – a practice common in the smallgoods industry.
A whole leg weighs about five kilograms to seven kilograms and will feed a family with enough left over for sandwiches until New Year's Day.
Peter Bouchier Christmas Ham
This is a top-shelf crowd pleaser that ticks a whole lot of boxes. It is a great-looking ham, big and plump with a golden hue. It is made with St Bernard's free-range pork by butcher Peter Bouchier in Melbourne. The meat is juicy, the beechwood smoke is subtle and the flavour of bay and juniper used in the brine shines through.
$22.90 a kilogram; available in Peter Bouchier stores, D avid Jones food stores and online.
Newbury and Watson Ham
This is an excellent ham made by Adelaide butcher Richard Gunner. He works with a handful of small-scale farmers who raise traditional Berkshire, large black, Tamworth and Hampshire fee-range pigs. The legs are brined with honey and brown sugar and smoked over beechwood and redgum. If you like a full-flavoured ham with a nice punch of smoke, we can confidently recommend this one.
Gamze Whole Leg Ham
The Gamze family is proud that it doesn't use chemical preservatives in its hams, using plant-based compounds instead. They use pork from free-range pigs and smoke over Australian hardwoods to produce a deep bronze ham with full porky, smokey flavour, great texture and a clean finish.
$39 a kilogram; gamzesmokehouse.com.au
Balzanelli Ham on the Bone
The Balzanelli family have been making smallgoods in their butchery in Fyshwick, Canberra, for almost 40 years. This juicy ham on the bone is an award-winner at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show and has been smoked over cherry wood to give it a light golden colour and very subtle smoke aroma.
$24 a kilogram; Call 1300 305 129 for stockists.
Value for money: Bertocchi half ham. Photo: Richard Cornish
Bertocchi Ham On Bone Half
From this family-owned company comes a ham suitable for a smaller family as it has the thigh end of the ham removed, leaving the tastier muscles around the hock end. It has a nice punch of European hardwood smoke, carves well and is very good value for money.
$12 a kilogram; Various supermarkets and delicatessens.
Woolworths Full Leg Ham
For many, ham is merely a pink platter for cranberry sauce, mustard and/or gravy and this ham will not offend anyone and will feed many at a good price point.
$9 a kilogram; Woolworths supermarkets