Demystifying Torchon Ham: A Complete Guide to This Unique Cured Ham

If you’ve browsed the deli counter and come across torchon ham, you may have wondered – what exactly is it? With its smooth texture and rolled shape, torchon ham stands out from the familiar slices of ham.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll shed light on everything you need to know about this unique type of cured ham. We’ll cover how it’s made, its distinctive qualities, and delicious ways to enjoy torchon ham.

What is Torchon Ham?

Torchon ham is a specialty cured ham that undergoes a unique production process, The name “torchon” comes from the French word for “dish towel” or “napkin”

To make torchon ham, pork leg is thoroughly trimmed of excess fat and layered with a dry cure mixture. It is then rolled up tightly in cheesecloth or muslin and poached in broth, wine or cider.

The cloth wrapping allows the ham to retain its moisture and compact cylindrical shape during gentle poaching. Once cooled, the cheesecloth is removed to reveal the smooth, molded ham known as torchon ham.

  • Torchon ham is made from pork leg or hind leg
  • It is cured, tightly wrapped in cloth, then poached
  • This creates a molded, cylindrical shape
  • The texture is smooth, dense and sliceable

Now let’s look closer at the curing and flavor profile

Torchon Ham Curing and Flavors

Torchon ham undergoes a specialized dry curing process before being wrapped and poached:

  • The pork leg is rubbed with a dry cure mix containing salt, sugars, spices and nitrites
  • This mixture cures the meat while enhancing flavor
  • Optional ingredients like wine, cognac or juniper berries can provide nuanced flavors
  • The cure draws out moisture and firms up the texture

After 1-2 weeks of curing, the ham is ready to be wrapped and poached. This cooking stage tenderizes the meat fully and mingles the flavors.

The resulting torchon ham is characterized by these qualities:

  • Dense, smooth, sliceable texture
  • Intense ham flavor
  • Notes of wine, cognac, juniper or other seasonings
  • Subtle smokiness from poaching liquid
  • Low saltiness due to being boiled

The molded shape also makes it easy to slice the ham into delicate rounds or rectangles. Now let’s contrast torchon ham to other major ham types.

How Torchon Ham Differs from Other Hams

Torchon ham has a unique appearance, texture and curing method compared to other ham varieties:


  • Cylindrical molded shape
  • Smooth, compact texture
  • Dry cured then poached
  • Subtly smoky, intense ham flavor

Smoked Ham

  • Irregular rounded shape
  • Firm, lightly stringy texture
  • Wet cured then smoked
  • Robust smoky flavor


  • Elongated hind leg shape
  • Dry, supple texture
  • Dry cured then air dried
  • Intensely porky, salty flavor

Virginia Ham

  • Rounded shape with leg bone
  • Variable texture, very salty
  • Dry cured then aged
  • Strong smokey, salty taste

So torchon stands out for its smoothness resulting from being both dry cured and poached. The cloth wrapping eliminates the need for smoking or air drying.

Now let’s go over how to serve this unique gourmet ham.

How to Serve and Enjoy Torchon Ham

Torchon ham offers a refined ham experience perfect for entertaining or charcuterie:

  • Slice rounds and serve on crostini or mini toasts
  • Roll up with cheese and fruit in a ham wrap
  • Dice into cubes for salads or cheese boards
  • Pair with mustard, pickles and bakery bread
  • Add to omelets, quiches and potato dishes
  • Use in place of regular ham in recipes

Its elegantly molded shape makes torchon ham a conversation starter at gatherings. It also delivers rich, pure ham flavor in every slice or cube.

For the ultimate party platter, arrange paper-thin slices of torchon ham with other gourmet cured meats, pickled vegetables, olives, mustards and crackers.

Where to Buy Torchon Ham

Torchon ham is considered a specialty gourmet item. You may be able to find it at upscale grocery stores, specialty food shops or online:

  • Check the deli counter at high-end grocers like Whole Foods
  • Visit specialty food stores and butchers in your area
  • Search for “torchon ham” from online gourmet food vendors
  • Look for French torchon ham or other European styles
  • Farmer’s markets sometimes have artisan torchon ham

When buying, look for the smooth shape with end flaps where the cheesecloth was tied. Opt for brands touting all natural ingredients and premium flavor.

The Takeaway

With its cylindrical shape, poached preparation and dense texture, torchon ham offers a truly unique eating experience. Savoring paper-thin slices is an elegant way to enjoy pure, rich ham flavor.

Next time you want to spice up your charcuterie board or sandwiches, pick up some gourmet torchon ham and wow your guests. Just be sure to leave some unanswered questions about what kind of ham it is so you can launch into your impressive torchon knowledge!

French Torchon Ham – Aldi – £1.95p + Mezita Chilli Jam – B+M’s £1.00 – Food Review

What is a torchon Ham?

Torchon in French means ‘cloth’. This ham is wrapped whilst it cooks, to give it a succulent delicious French flavour. Try in a croque monsiuer Allergy advice: for allergens see ingredients in bold For extra freshness place in a container or a food bag and ensure it is well sealed

What is a torchon in cooking?

Au Torchon is a French phrase used to describe a cooking technique. A “torchon” is a cloth, such as a dish towel, that a food is wrapped in for cooking. A cheesecloth can be used, or a pudding cloth (which has a tighter weave), or a clean kitchen towel. You wrap the food item in the cloth, and tie it securely with kitchen string.

Can I reproduce a French Torchon Ham?

It may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever without the prior consent of Waitrose Limited nor without due acknowledgement. Buy Unearthed French Torchon Ham online from Waitrose today. Picked, packed and delivered by hand in convenient 1-hour slots

What is a jambon de Paris Ham?

Jambon de Paris, also known as Paris-style ham, is a slow-cooked, unsmoked ham traditionally prepared by artisanal butcher shops in Paris—the capital city of France—and its outskirts. Translated literally from French, Jambon de Paris means “Paris ham” or “the ham of Paris.” It’s pronounced jan·bon du pa·ree.

Leave a Comment