"Get your Christmas orders in as soon as possible," says Haverick Meats' Gavin Tuckwell. "I mean, like, today. It is a perfect storm out there." The combination of lack of pork supply due to COVID-19 abattoir closures in Victoria, swine flu in Asia, and summer bushfire smoke affecting the birth rate of free-range pigs have affected supplies. Despite this, Sydney's butchers are working their fingers to the bone to produce excellent hams for the Christmas table. We picked five of the best across a range of prices.
Feather and Bone
Award-winning ethical butchers Grant Hilliard and Laura Dalrymple buy their pork from 10 suppliers across NSW, from Casino in the north to Wallendbeen, south of Young. Like many producers, they collect and freeze hind legs throughout the year to ensure Christmas supply. Each free-range bone-in leg is colour-coded with string while they're brined and gently hot-smoked over beechwood. This means you know which farm your ham was raised on. Sold whole and in halves with the option of glazing with Malfroy's honey and Wildflower Brewing ale, these will make a superb centrepiece to the Christmas table.
5kg-9kg, $31.50 a kg, featherandbone.com.au
This is a big, beautiful golden ham, large enough to feed a crowd, of a quality to impress everyone. The pork is from free-range Berkshire pigs grazing on small farms in the Upper Hunter. Berkshires are known for their marbling, so expect a rich-tasting ham, excellent texture with plenty of flavour, and a lovely punch of smokiness from double applewood and hickory smoke. Order now for home delivery on December 23.
8kg-9kg, $21.90 a kg, haverickmeats.com.au
Down a mile-long driveway on an 1870s farm at Hall, near Canberra, is a smokehouse producing excellent value-for-money hams. Triple hot-smoked over beech, these attractive whole bone-in hams have a pleasing golden hue and delicate smoky aroma. Available statewide and in the ACT.
9-11kg, $16.50 a kg, poacherspantry.com.au
Vic's Premium Quality Meat
Meat guru Anthony Puharich is proud of the ham his team makes from a rare Japanese strain of Black Berkshire pigs, raised in eco-shelters in the Byron Bay hinterland. The pigs are fed a special cereal diet to promote intramuscular marbling, making for a more succulent ham. Traditionally brined, with a little pineapple for sweetness and tenderness, they are double-smoked over beech and apple. He also sells a special maple-glazed ham with diamond crosshatch, studded with cloves, in his flagship store, Victor Churchill in Woollahra. "It's the Rolls-Royce of hams," jokes Puharich.
Whole Beast Butchery
Marrickville butcher Marcus Papadopoulo is making classic-tasting hams big enough to feed the family from Christmas to New Year. Simply brined with salt, sugar and black pepper then smoked over ironbark and applewood, the hams are complemented by a range of glazes, including cranberry, and brandy and mustard. Papadopoulo also suggests a ham alternative: cold-smoked, herb-stuffed porchetta.
10kg-11kg, $22 a kg, 0402 710 505