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Jun 5, 2010 12:58 AM

What is good ham and where do I get it?

Sorry if this has been discussed before -- couldn't see anything via search.

I love ham. But I buy it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's where I've only had the soft kind that comes sliced and is also a little gummy. Whole Foods used to carry whole Niman Ranch hams to slice but I haven't seen them in a long time.

So, where do I get the kind of delicious ham I had once at Cesar, for example? It was dry, thin, fragrant and meaty, and I haven't ever seen it in supermarkets. I'm guessing I'm looking for a good jamon or prosciutto -- or am I wrong?


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  1. Lucca Deli on Valencia Street.

    1. If it was at Cesar it was probably a jamon iberico or a jamon serrano. I found an old thread about iberico ham here:

      The Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley also carries iberico. It's pretty expensive. Don't remember if they have jamon serrano.

      1. It is possible to improve a grocery store ham. Buy a "Cook's" ham from the grocery store.
        You may have to look around to find one. They are usually available really cheap after
        easter and Xmas since they are a by product in the production of ham slices for the holidays.
        Roast the ham at 220 for 8 hours. After cooling place in the refrigerator uncovered for 2
        weeks to allow the ham to dry out some. When it reaches the point of dryness you prefer
        wrap with plastic film and enjoy it. I roast them in a small smoker myself as I prefer a
        smokier ham.
        Good luck

        1. There's a whole other type of ham, "country ham", cured with long-ago methods. I grew up with Missouri country ham on special occasions from some farmer the family knew who cured and sold hams. There are also the famous Smithfield (Virginia) hams as well as other regional country hams. For some people, country ham is an acquired taste. Salt is an essential part of the cure. Some like to soak the ham in water to remove a lot of the salt; for others (like me), that is heresy. Currently, Burger's in California, Missouri, is the only source I know of for Missouri country ham. Their Attic Aged Country Ham ( ) is the real thing and is available cooked or uncooked, whole or half or slices, etc. For Smithfield ham, I have no current experience or recommendations; a google search will turn up many sources.

          If anyone knows of Bay Area sources for these hams, please speak up.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mick Ruthven

            I was at the Ferry Building farmers' market this morning, and wandering thru the shops inside, I saw that Chris Cosentino's salumi outfit, Boccalone, was apparently selling Allan Benton's country ham as a special - didn't see what the asking price was.

            1. re: Spatlese

              Do you remember if they were selling only whole hams?

              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                No idea - it was just scrawled on a little "specials" chalk board - Benton's ham - no price listed. Didn't stop to ask more about it, so I don't know how they were selling it.

          2. The old thread on Spanish hams suggests a price of $45 for Jamon Iberico. The present price range I have seen is $99 to more than $150/lb. Seen at Bi Rite, Dean and Deluca and Spanish Table. Serrano is also available but at a much lower price. I have also seen speck at A.G. Ferrari. I have seen Smithfield ham in assorted cut chucks at my local Ranch 99. Don't know how to prepare though. Does it still require the soaking process the the whole ham needs?

            Spanish Table
            1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702