Sweetheart Ham and Slicing Knives

STEELPORT Knife Co. and the world-famous salumeria Olympia Provisions have a lot in common – we’re both Portland, Oregon-based companies handcrafting premium products for discerning food lovers with an equal focus on both quality and sustainability. Many of the OP kitchen staff use STEELPORT knives, and we partner with them regularly for our special events, giveaways, collaborations and more.

Eli using a honing rod with sharpen his STEELPORT 8" Chef Knife

One of our favorite products made by Olympia Provisions is their Sweetheart Ham.

We’re all used to seeing giant hams in the grocery store around the holidays, but Olympia Provisions’ Co-owner and Salumist Eli Cairo wanted to apply Swiss ham-making techniques to a smaller cut (1.25 lbs to 1.75 lbs) for a more pack-with-flavor and approachable for everyday ham. They call it a ‘Sweetheart Ham’ because it’s just the right size for you and your sweetheart to enjoy.

Eli explaining the process of cutting a sweetheart ham

How OP Makes their famous Sweetheart Ham:

Eli and his team make a brine with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, fresh onions, chili flake, bay leaves and fresh thyme that sits overnight to fully develop all the flavors. The next day, he brings it to a simmer then hand injects the brine into pork sirloin tips, and let them soak in the brine for about 10 days.

The hams then are netted and smoked for 10 hours over real applewood and hickory wood to impart a beautiful smoke flavor. It’s just so delicious.

Sweetheart ham sitting on a cutting board

Tips for Slicing Ham:

At Olympia Provisions’ restaurant, they can use their industrial size meat slicer to cut through large quantities of ham for their guest. At home, a quality, very sharp Chef Knife or 10″ Slicing Knife (especially for a full size ham) is your best tool to get consistent slices at your preferred thickness.

Eli cutting a sweetheart ham

Using a very sharp and sturdy knife makes the task of slicing a whole ham much easier, safer and results in a more visually appealing product. A sharp knife cuts through the meat smoothly, allowing for even and precise slices without tearing or crushing the delicate fibers of the ham.

Eli slicing a sweetheart ham

This is especially important when preparing ham or other large format piece of meat for a special occasion or presentation, as a uniform and aesthetically pleasing presentation adds to the overall dining experience. Using a STEELPORT 10” Slicing Knife further adds to the presentation as an impressive heirloom-quality showpiece to help elevate your special meal.

A sharp knife reduces the amount of force required and makes slicing a ham a smoother and safer experience, while a dull knife requires more force to cut through the meat, increasing the risk of the knife slipping or the user accidentally injuring themselves.

Eli slicing a sweetheart ham

As Eli told us while slicing some Sweetheart ham with his STEELPORT Chef Knife, “This knife of epicness definitely does the job. This thing’s amazing.”

Making Memories Through Sharing Meals:

Cooking for someone is a form of nurturing and can bring people together, creating memories and fostering strong bonds. Whether it is for a special occasion, a relaxing weekend brunch, or just a regular morning, putting a little thought and care into preparing a delicious meal like an Eggs Benedict helps make the moment special. It’s a simple but meaningful way to share a moment of joy with those we care about.

On the subject of creating memorable moments, here’s a fun fact: Eli was actually the first person to ask us to test out personalized engravings on our sheaths! Back in fall of 2021, Eli wanted to gift something really memorable, useful, and Oregon handcrafted to his good friend and collaborator, Brad Leone, to congratulate Brad on his recent book launch, Field Notes for Food Adventure: Recipes and Stories from the Woods to the Ocean. Already a STEELPORT fan himself, Eli decided to gift Brad a STEELPORT 8” Chef Knife and wooden sheath, and asked our team if we could engrave a special message for Brad on the sheath: “Here’s to more field notes and adventures bud!”

Eli's engraved STEELPORT Knife sheath

Now sheath engravings are a service we offer to any STEELPORT customer looking to personalize their knives and gifts. STEELPORT knives are designed to last a lifetime, and adding a personal message makes it an even more treasured heirloom.

Make the Olympia Provisions Benedict:

If you’re fortunate enough to visit the Olympia Provisions restaurant in Portland, Oregon for brunch, make sure to order the Sweetheart Ham Eggs Benedict.

In the meantime, OP’s Sweetheart Hams are available to order through their online shop, and we’ve shared the full recipe here!