With ham season upon us, you might be throwing your hands up in the air not knowing how to approach this important purchase. Buying your celebratory leg of ham feels like making a considerable outlay. Picking the wrong ham can put a dampener on your family’s special day, especially when you consider the long weeks ahead where you’ll be eating it in sandwiches, with salad, and in that eventual ham soup.
This year I joined Australian Pork Limited in Colin Fassnidge’s restaurant, 4Fourteen, for an event designed to take the guesswork out of sourcing a great tasting Australian ham.
A trio of three judges - fleischmeister Horst Schurger, and chefs Paul McDonald and Simon Bestley – spent two days taste testing more than 140 ham entries from across the country. They rank the hams on appearance, aroma, texture and taste, and come up with a state-by-state short list of Australia’s best ham.
At this event, the gathered food media also had the opportunity to taste and rank the country’s top traditional bone-in and boneless hams in a blind tasting.
Coincidentally my two favourites “number 9” and “number 2” aligned with the top two hams chosen as the People’s Choice Award winners. The best boneless ham was by South Australia’s Saint Meat Quality Butchers, which had a lovely balanced smoky flavour, without too much salt. My favourite bone-in ham was by Noosa Meat Centre, Queensland, and it had the perfect texture, and well flavoured fat.
According to the judges, Australia’s Best Boneless Ham is made by Pingelly Quality Meats in the tiny West Australian town of Pingelly, about one-and-a-half hours east of Perth. While bone-in hams are all made from Australian pork, boneless ham is where you need to be careful to ensure you’re only buying Aussie pig. You do this by looking for the pink PorkMark or the words ‘Product of Australia’; or you can follow the judges who deemed Australia’s Best Traditional Bone-in Ham to be made by Barossa Fine Foods in Edinburgh North, South Australia.
Here in NSW, the judges think you should be looking to the German Butchery in Mona Vale, Zammit Ham & Bacon Curers in Pendle Hill, and Stapleton’s Family Meats in Gymea for your boneless ham. For a traditional bone-in leg of ham, head to The Free Range Butcher in Mona Vale, Sunshine Meats in Milperra or the German Butchery, who also have an outlet in Bexley North.
Colin Fassnidge and his team took the opportunity to showcase their expertise with pork across glazed hams and a trio of long pork roasts with textbook crackling. You can eat his pig on the 4Fourteen regular menu as Redleaf Farm Suckling Pig ($39) with corn and pickled peach, or gather together ten friends for a Whole Suckling Pig ($80/per person) experience with sides, accompaniments and dessert. For cooking tips for preparing your ham for you own at-home feast, visit www.pork.com.au and don’t be afraid to crack that ham before the day. It is ham season after all!
NOTE: You can see a previous visit to this venue back HERE.
414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9331 5399