Turkey I can take or leave. Generally, I leave it but Christmas, for me, has to involve ham. It’s not just the versatility but the simple pleasure of taking a slice of it, smearing on some mustard and just revelling in the taste and the texture.

Using up leftover turkey is a trial; the pleasure evaporates not long after the compulsory Christmas night sandwich. Ham, on the other hand, continues to delight right into the New Year (if it survives that long).

I mean, just think of leek and ham pie, ham croquettes, ham omelettes, cubes of ham and chutney beneath a layer of bubbling cheese atop a piece of chunky toast…

However, there’s ham and ham. Christmas is not a time to have one of those plasticised, moulded, ham-type products that may be all very well in a toasted pub sandwich. It’s a time for the real deal.

For the past few years we’ve had one of James Whelan’s Butcher’s heritage cure hams. We just keep coming back for more. And now we discover that we are not alone in our enthusiasm. It has been awarded three radiant stars in the Great Taste Awards, competing with the best of the best from right across Ireland and Great Britain.

I’m used to using words in an attempt to convey what things taste like but I have to bow to the summary provided by the Great Taste Awards judges who, in their final comment, give what I reckon has to be the ultimate endorsement.

So, okay, I commend James Whelan Butchers not just for their heritage cured hams (life has never been the same since I discovered their beef dripping and so much more), but I think I’ll leave the final paean of praise to the judges, pausing only to say that this €49.99 ham will comfortably serve sixteen hungry people.

“An impressive joint, juicy and with a good even layer of fat,” they said.  “Wonderfully inviting, moist, pink slices. The fat is delightful and the lean meat is tender, sweet and succulent. Well-judged cure and delightfully delicate smoke. There is good pork flavour here. We tried this both thickly chunked and thinly sliced, both were wonderful - we were rather reluctant to let this leave our table".

I rest my case.

You can order yours here: JamesWhelanButchers.com