IT puts pep in our sandwiches, works well with eggs, salads and adds more flavour to fresh vegetable dishes, cooked chickpeas and lentils — ham has a lot going for it.
It is produced by adding salt and nitrite (saltpetre) to raw pork. The additions help to preserve it, fight bacteria and also provide its distinctive red/pink colour and taste.
It is usually wet cured (not rubbed with salt as dried ham is).
The joint of meat (usually a leg) is boiled on the bone and the best of it is sliced from that. You see a thicker amount of marbling in meat that is taken off the bone and sliced.
Often other cuts of ham are used with the leg meat and are pressed and re-formed to look like the final product is cut off the bone.
The marbling is much lighter in this type and there is a faint, white tracing. It can be quite a regular shape too and sometimes rubbery.
Ham is by nature salted, so it needs to be given in moderation to children and monitored by those with high blood pressure.
Many of the more processed products have added sugar which confuses the senses as it dilutes the salty taste.
It’s easy to load the diet with rashers and sausages, so think of any pork product, including ham and bacon, as a weekly treat, and enjoy it then to the full.
Born out of the Coal Quay market, Siopa Gan Ainm is a cosy shop and breakfast café open Thursday to Saturday selling fresh vegetables and other basics, including this ham cooked by the owner/partner on their farm near Macroom, Co Cork.
It was all tasters’ favourite for its meaty flavour from pigs that are free-range. It had a nicely natural, meaty texture too, and the added bonus is a lovely, light honey flavour on the skin.
From an institution based in Cork’s English market and more known for its chickens, this ham is steam-cooked on the bone, and no fillers are added.
The result is a naturally textured and meaty ham with plenty of flavour, not too salty and with no added sugar. Good value.
A good meaty texture here with not too much salt. Pretty good flavour too. Tasters liked it, though it was not a favourite.
Wet, small slices had a good meaty texture once dried off. Some meaty flavour too. Honey flavour low, but a little general sweetness throughout the meat.
A good, natural texture and taste here brought this to close to the top of the list. Tasters liked it. Expensive.
Wet slices here and a little rubbery, but tasty and, once dried off, enjoyed by tasters enough to be in our Top 8.
A little rubbery, the salt is balanced by the addition of caster sugar and honey to good effect. Not a favourite, but liked well enough to score well.
While re-formed, the meat has a natural texture and taste and is not too salty. The slices were quite wet, but not rubbery. The crumbing did not affect the taste of the meat.
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