Prague Ham (Czech: Pražská šunka, German: Prager Schinken) is a type of brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked boneless ham originally from Prague in Bohemia (Czech Republic). When cooked on the bone, it is called šunka od kosti ("Ham off the bone"), considered a delicacy. It was first marketed in the 1860s by Antonín Chmel, a pork butcher from Prague's Zvonařka ("Bell-Maker street") on the Nuselské schody (The Nusle Steps).
It was a popular export during the 1920s and 1930s – to the point that other cultures started copying the recipe and making it domestically. Considered the Czech Republic's "family silver", it is now regionally brand-protected by European law. Because of this, other regions must call it "Prague style" Ham rather than Prague Ham.
Prague Ham as street food
Most street vendors sell it by weight in grams rather than per serving. Tourists unfamiliar with this fact (or who don't understand the metric system) are unaware of the necessity to state the amount they would like and often get a large slab of ham with a heaping side order of potatoes. The final cost can thus be greater than a three-course meal in a luxury restaurant.
Names in Other Languages
- German: Prager Schinken.
- Italian: Prosciutto di Praga. An Italian dry-cured pressed ham prepared like a Prague Ham.
- Romanian: Șuncă de Praga.
- Serbo-Croatian: Praška šunka.