'Perfect ham' named the best in NZ

Last updated 11:20 30/10/2012
Andrea O'Neil

PRIZE PORK: Tawa butcher Rob Cameron’s traditional smoked ham has been named the best in New Zealand.

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Tawa's tasty secret is out - the best ham in New Zealand can be found at Main Rd butchery Cameron Harrison.

Butcher Rob Cameron's sliced ham won best off-the-bone ham and the supreme Ham of the Year prize at the 100% New Zealand Bacon & Ham Competition on October 17.

Seventy hams by 53 producers were entered in the annual competition.

It is the first time an off-the- bone ham has won the top prize, and the judges were unanimous about its merits, saying it had "perfect" taste and texture.

"It was mindblowing," first-time entrant Mr Cameron says.

"In some ways it was like I'd won Lotto. The rewards that are going to come from something like that is going to mean a lot to us, as a small business."

Since winning, Mr Cameron has been shifting three times as much ham.

"We've gone from 60 hams a week to 200."

The ham can be bought sliced or whole at his Tawa, Ngaio and Khandallah shops, and at posh Auckland deli Nosh's six outlets.

The secret to great ham is traditional methods, Mr Cameron says.

While larger meat producers might cure, brine, boil and smoke a ham in 24 hours, Mr Cameron gives it three to four days.

"I just put it down to the process, as well as the ingredients.

"I don't speed the process up."

Mr Cameron is keeping the full recipe close to his chest, but he uses cage-free South Island pork, adds manuka honey to his brine and the hams are smoked using traditional methods.

Every finalist in the ham competition was from a butchers' shop rather than a supermarket or a large producer, Mr Cameron says.

"It just goes to show that butchers are producing a better quality product."

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