Why can’t I find gammon in France?
I have been trying to find somewhere in France to buy gammon for roasting. I am thinking of the sort available in British supermarkets (1-2kgs to roast) rather than the sliced version that you find in French supermarkets. M.L.
British and French cuts of meat and ways of treating it often differ and traditional gammon joints for roasting are one of the items that are not standard in French butchers’ counters.
The best bet is likely to be ordering a joint on the internet from a specialist in British cuts, such as flavour-to-savour.com run by a British butcher from the Lot-et-Garonne, boucheriealaferme.com in the Corrèze or baconbythebox.com which brings over British and Irish meats for home delivery in France.
Gammon is meat from the leg of a pig, that has been cured with salt, and is bought raw for cooking at home – then, once it is cooked it is ham.
Butcher Steve Robbins from Flavour to Savour said: “They don’t really sell gammon in France – they have something called demi-sel which is slightly salted, and the French don’t really do gammon joints, it’s normally the hocks [jarret de porc] that they sell or bits of streaky.
“We do the traditional, old-fashioned, hand-rubbed dry-cured ones.
“They immerse theirs in a solution and it’s not very well-seasoned, they don’t use a lot of salt, whereas we use a purpose-designed quality salt designed for rubbing in by hand.
“It’s just leg of pork – jambon – but to dry-cure a whole leg takes about a month and either we sell gammon hocks [a piece from the calf, with the bone left in], which don’t take as long, or we take the bone out to make boneless, dry-cured horseshoe gammon.” (Horseshoe is the traditional gammon joint made from meat from the middle of the leg).
British farmer Sophie Hicks from Boucherie à la Ferme in the Corrèze said one reason gammon is not common in France is “making of ham is left up to the experts, like patisserie-making is as well.”