I apologize to any regular readers about taking the summer off but I promise I am coming back from my trip to the Jersey Shore very inspired. I can’t get a certain episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” out of my brain. It’s the one where, you guessed it, Frank, Dennis and the rest of the gang head to the Jersey Shore. Earlier in the summer, as I sat on the beach in Atlantic City contemplating the relationship of Charlie and his waitress, I suddenly remembered the real star of this episode: Frank’s Rum Ham. Could his ridiculous creation be a real thing? I had to find out.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is about “The Gang”, which consists of five of the most ridiculous, self centered, shameless, manipulative and stupid people ever. A lot of the episodes of this show are filled with the gang engaging in some sort of manipulative scheme or conspiring against each other for no reason. The gang runs Paddy’s Pub, a disgusting dive in Philadelphia which serves as the arena and backdrop for the gang’s shenanigans.
In “The Gang goes to the Jersey Shore” Dennis and Dee lead the gang outside of Philadelphia to revisit one of their old favorite vacation spots on the Jersey Shore. Once they arrive, Dennis and Dee realize that the shore isn’t the magical place that exists in their memories. While Dennis and Dee try (unsuccessfully) to recapture the shore experiences of their youth, Charlie spends a magical evening at the beach with his waitress.
Mac and Frank spend their time sitting on the beach eating the Rum Ham, but remove themselves to a dingy in the ocean because they are tired of protecting their ham from the beach’s stray dogs. Floating around in the sun, and the booze infused ham proves too much for them and they pass out. They wake up very far from shore and Frank starts to panic as soon as he realizes that the Rum Ham is floating away. They linger in the ocean for a while, are rescued by a boat full of guidos and end up partying the night away getting spray tanned and taking steroids. Mac and Frank become reunited with Rum Ham on the party boat solidifying their awesome adventure.
The ham in this episode is significant because it obtains a level of personification that food rarely achieves. Rum Ham actually becomes a member of “The Gang” in this episode. It is just like Mac and Frank; loaded with booze afloat on the ocean; it even gets rescued by the guidos! Also during this adventure, Mac and Frank talk directly to the ham, at one point Frank actually apologizes to it while it’s floating away as if it was leaving in the middle of an argument. When reunited, Mac and Frank both exclaim “Rum Ham!” as if shouting a buddies name before hugging it.
The Rum Ham is also a good representation of how this show often crosses the line into bizarre territory. The world that “The Gang” lives in is definitely not grounded in reality and is often disgusting as well as inappropriate. Mac’s initial reaction to the ham is a bit of disbelief, which is an expected reaction, however, he quickly declares Frank a genius and begins eating Rum Ham and shoving away the stray dogs. This marks a place in the show where the expected quickly gives way to the bizarre which is what this show thrives on.
In the episode Frank describes the making of Rum Ham by stating: “This is ham soaked in rum. It is loaded with booze”. I figured that would be the best pace to start. I wanted to use a spiced rum because I felt that would taste better with ham as well as give it that beach-y vibe. I also figured that to cook the ham in booze wouldn’t be enough and that I should soak it first to give it a chance to really absorb the rum. So, I created a marinade for the ham to hang out in comprised of spiced rum and brown sugar. I let it sit in my fridge about 5-6 hours but the longer you let it sit the more rum-ish it will be.
I kept thinking about Rum Ham hanging out in the ocean all day and I became inspired to cook this thing in my slow cooker. Not only would it infuse the ham more with the rum/brown sugar flavor but it would also save me from turning on my oven in the summer.
I get pretty vague with the cooking instructions on this recipe for a few reasons. The first being that as a post having to do with IASIP I figured that Frank would spend little to no time with careful preparations for his rum ham and so I could afford to be a little laid back with mine too. Also, I have found that when cooking with booze it is really more a matter of taste than anything, so use as much or as little rum in this as you like. There is even a non-alcoholic rum extract out there for those of you that want to participate but are not comfortable cooking with alcohol.
The ham came out really flavorful; the salt of the ham with the sweetness of the brown sugar was quite nice. The spiced rum I used gave it a nice complexity of flavor as well. I also feel that by soaking it in the marinade and then soaking it again in the slow cooker worked really well to infuse the flavors into the meat. I would definitely make this again for a nice summery dinner to be enjoyed along with my Jersey Shore memories, (none of which involve stray dogs or steroids).
Spiral Cut Ham trimmed to fit into your slow cooker with the lid on
1/4 cup of spiced Rum plus a splash
3Tbs Brown Sugar plus more for sprinkling
1-2 Cups Water
- Place the ham in a freezer bag or large bowl. Combine 1/4 cup rum, brown sugar, and water and it to the ham. Place in fridge for at least a couple hours turning every once in a while. The longer it hangs out in there the stronger the rum flavor will be.
- Sprinkle some brown sugar to coat the bottom of your slow cooker. Place ham in there flat side down. Sprinkle some more brown sugar on the ham and add a splash of rum into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours. Every hour or so baste the ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker.