Ham is not only central to a Christmas lunch, it's a mainstay in Boxing Day sandwiches and holiday breakfasts. And now top chefs from around the country are getting into the festive-ham spirit. Nathan Sasi of Sydney's Mercado has created a glaze to go with Haverick Meats' hams. The hams are black Berkshire, a breed known for its heavy marbling, and Sasi's glaze is made with smoked maple syrup and sherry vinegar ($17.90 per kilo for the ham; $11.50 for 300ml glaze). "We smoke a lot of meats at the restaurant and we wanted to replicate these flavours in the glaze," he says.
Elsewhere in Sydney, the "party hams" LP's Quality Meats serves and sells are also Berkshire, and come ready to go, cured with maple syrup and smoked overnight with applewood ($28 per kilo). In Melbourne, Meatsmith butchery, run by Troy Wheeler and restaurateur Andrew McConnell, smokes Glen Eyrie's Tamworth hams over beechwood ($35 per kilo).
Other next-level hams that have caught our eye include Saskia Beer's traditionally cured and smoked Berkshire hams from her Black Pig range (from $44.95 per kilo), while in Adelaide, butcher extraordinaire Richard Gunner is doing a "choose your own adventure ham" at Feast Fine Foods (from $34.99 per kilo). With 128 possible variations, you can pick your breed, sugar source, spice mix and wood.
"It's all about personalisation," says Gunner. "Someone might have a black Berkshire that's cured with treacle, juniper and bay and smoked with cherry, and someone else a Tamworth with cinnamon and sage that's smoked on beechwood." His go-to ham for Christmas? "I never have the same ham twice."