It took me way longer than it should have to watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It’s almost like I was saving it for when I needed it most, which happened to be during a global pandemic (and a couple of months before the Season 15 premier). I adore it, and everyone involved with making it. The entire cast is incredibly talented, but my favourite recurring character makes a splash without ever opening his meaty mouth. That’s right jabronis: I’m talking about Rum Ham. (Just in time for Christmas!)
It’s a simple enough concept: It’s ham soaked in rum. It is loaded with booze. It sounds bad (or at lease challenging to consume), but Danny Devito has described it as “very good,” and who are you to question Danny Devito’s judgement? I am not the first fan to attempt a rum ham recipe, but I think I am the first to sous vide a rum ham, and what is sous vide if not soaking at a precise, constant temperature?
As you probably know, sous-vide cooking is a great tool for cooking large cuts of meat without drying them out (particularly pre-cooked hams), and making rapid alcoholic infusions, which makes it perfect for Rum Ham. The constant temperature water bath gets the ham hot without drying it out, and adding rum to the bag forces the booze into the salty, cured pork.
A lot of so-called “Rum Hams” are merely glazed with rum, but not mine. I took a whole bottle of spiced rum, added some crushed pineapple, brown sugar, and maple syrup, then briefly boiled the mixture to temper the harsh boozy bite of a whole bottle of rum. (I didn’t want to drive off all the ethanol. What is the point of making Rum Ham if you can’t tell it’s been soaked in rum?) I bagged it all up, and sous vided the ham for three hours at 57°C. I boiled down the bag juices to make a syrup, brushed them on my ham son, then set him under the broiler to get a nice, sticky tan. He was delicious.
Rum Ham is a ham with an ABV, and the effect is startling. I don’t know that I could get ripshit off of Rum Ham before I got full of pork, but I would not feel comfortable feeding it to my sober boyfriend, or anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol. At first you’re like “Wow, what a juicy, delicious ham with a sweet and tangy glaze.” But then you’re all “Why burn?” The blast of ethanol vapour fades almost as quickly as it appears however, leaving you craving another bite of ham that has been noticeably soaked in rum. This ham walks a delicate line: If the rum were any more noticeable, it would be gross; if it were any less noticeable, it wouldn’t be Rum Ham. (Things get less boozy towards the centre of the ham, and less noticeable once it’s chilled in the fridge.)
You don’t know how many years on this Earth you got left. You might as well get real weird with it and make some Rum Ham, my gift to you. (I’m trying to give you the Christmas spirit, dickhole.)
Always Sunny Sous-Vide Rum Ham
- 1 bone-in pre-cooked ham, about 2 kg
- 1 bottle spiced rum (a little over 3 cups)
- 2 230g cans crushed pineapple
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 pineapple rings
- 1 maraschino cherry
Fill a bucket, Cambro, or large pot with water, stick your immersion circulator down in there, and set the temperature for 57°C. Score the skin of the ham by making a cross-hatched pattern with a sharp knife and set it aside. (Don’t go too deep — I went too deep and some of his face peeled away.)
Add the remaining ingredients to a large sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it boil for three minutes, then remove from the heat and let it cool for a couple. (Keeping the rum warm means your circulator doesn’t have to waste time warming it back up.)
Add the ham and the rum mixture to a gallon-sized Ziplock or vacuum bag, slowly submerge it into the water to force out the excess air, and clip the end of the bag over the edge of your bucket, Cambro, or pot. (Don’t worry about sealing the vacuum bag.) Let the ham sous vide for three hours.
Once the three hours is up, carefully pour the bag liquid through a fine mesh strainer and into a sauce pan, keeping the ham in the bag. Return the bag to the water bath to keep the ham hot while you make the glaze and set your broiler to 260°C.
Bring the contents of the sauce pan to a boil and let it reduce until you have a thick, sticky glaze. Remove from the heat and set it aside. Take the ham out of the bag, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush the ham with glaze, and pop it under the broiler for five minutes. Repeat this two more times. Remove the ham from the oven, let cool for five minutes, then make a face with the fruit. Eat the ham, preferably while safe in your home, and not on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It’s too cold for that right now anyway.