When it comes to pizza sales, ham is a top pizza topping contender
Ham doesn’t get the fame and notoriety that other pizza toppings do these days. But don’t discount ham. When it comes to pizza sales, ham is still a top contender. In our State of the Pizzeria Industry Report, we found that ham is a Top 10 pizza topping according to pizzeria operators in every state in the U.S.
Get to the “Bottom” of Ham
Ham is cut from the hind legs and rump of a pig. Simply cooking the fresh pork is still considered ham. But when you preserve the cut, that’s where the magic happens, and America’s most popular hams are born. While you can technically preserve any cut of the pork, only hind legs and butt can be considered ham. Common cuts are the center slice, butt end and ham shank. The shank tends to be fattier than the butt end. Ham can be purchased bone-in or boneless.
Taste varies widely by purveyor. Ham is either dry-cured or brine-cured with salt. Ham can also be smoked and aged.
Let’s look at four of the most common hams for use in a pizzeria.
- City ham. These are wet cured in a brine of saltwater and pre-cooked. City ham is typically found in grocery stores. City hams offer a well-rounded favor and moist texture.
- Country ham. The dry cured ham are salted and smoked. The curing process can take several months. Country hams tend to have a more robust salty flavor and a drier texture.
- Prosciutto. The dry cured Italian ham is thinly sliced. While some favor baking it, prosciutto is at its best as a post-bake item. Prosciutto is sweet, salty and full of flavor.
- Canadian bacon. This one isn’t really ham at all, though it often gets put in the same classification. It is cut from the pork loin, cured and smoked before it is sliced into the rounds its known for. The lean meat is tender and tastes similar to ham.
Ham is a versatile pizza topping. There are few typical pizza ingredients that do not pair well with the hearty and salty flavor of the ham of your choosing.
One of my favorite combinations is the Capricciosa that features Italian (or substitute your favorite ham), mushrooms, artichokes and olives. You could also go with anchovies, instead of olives, if you have a market for them.
Since we’ve moved into the colder months, ham is perfect on a white pie that features an Alfredo sauce. Pair it with mushrooms and even balsamic caramelized onions or broccoli.
Four words: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza. This is one of the best sandwich turned pizzas out there. It’s hearty and flavorful. We happen to have a dynamite recipe that was created by a longtime contributor Jeffrey Freehof.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza
The best ham and cheese sandwich meets pizza
I love ham and cheese sandwiches. I’m on a never-ending quest to find the right combination of cheese to pair with the saltiness of ham. Alas, a little restaurant I know makes the best ham and cheese I’ve ever had. It’s so great that I order it once a week. So, I’m using that as inspiration for a hot ham and cheese pizza. Since I’m based in Louisville, Kentucky, I’m using country ham but pick your favorite ham. I’m calling it the Oh Hot Ham and Cheese and here’s the recipe:
Oh Hot Ham & Cheese Pizza
Get the Oh Hot Ham & Cheese Pizza recipe.
The famous Hawaiian Pizza
Hawaiian pizza is one of the most popular pizzas in America. The traditional combination is tomato sauce, ham (or
bacon) and pineapple. We ended the debate of whether pineapple belongs on pizza a long time ago when the Hawaiian pizza was introduced in 1962. Sam Panopolulos is credited with creating the first Hawaiian pizza at his Satellite restaurant in Chattam, Ontario, Canada.
Over the years, several iterations of the classic Hawaiian have been introduced throughout America. Here are a few versions that we’ve seen hit big:
- Ham, pineapple, jalapeno, red sauce and mozzarella
- Chicken, ham, pineapple, BBQ sauce, mozzarella
- Prosciutto, burrata, pineapple, fresh mozzarella, basil, sweet red sauce
- Canadian bacon, pineapple, white cheddar/mozzarella blend, marinara
- Pepperoni, ham, pineapple, roasted poblanos, sweet red sauce and provolone/mozzarella blend
- Ham, bacon, pineapple, mozzarella, sweet bell pepper and red sauce
Here’s yet another take on a Hawaiian Pizza from PizzaToday.com: