Rum ham is a classic American comfort food.
This dish combines two flavors we love — ham and booze — to create something delicious.
What Is Rum Ham?
The name “rum ham” has been around since the 19th century.
The origin of this dish can be traced back as far as 1697 in Jamaica when the first batch was made by Christopher Codrington.
Rum ham is an old-fashioned meat stew with roots in colonial America.
At its core are pork chops or slices of bacon cooked in a sauce of brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, spices, and a little rum.
It’s not just any type of pork chop you find in a grocery store; instead, it’s usually thick cut (sometimes called Boston butt) from the shoulder area of a pig.
If your butcher doesn’t have this particular cut, then ask him or her about other cuts that will work well.
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons white corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound thick cut pork roast or pork loin, cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup light rum
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup dark raisins
- 6 strips bacon, diced
In a medium bowl combine the sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, mustard, allspice, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.
Add the onion and garlic, stir until combined, and set aside.
In another small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients except the bacon.
Add the pork cubes to the mixture in the larger bowl and mix very gently so they don’t get broken up too much.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Transfer the contents of the smaller bowl to a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the liquid reduces slightly.
Stir in the bacon and cook for 5 more minutes.
Stir in the reserved onion-garlic mixture and continue cooking until heated through.
How Do You Make Rum Ham?
The first step in making your own rum ham is to marinate the meat overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Next, drain off any excess liquid before cooking.
You can use either an oven or a pan.
If you’re using an oven, place the ham on a rack set over a baking sheet.
Place the ham under the broiler (or grill) until golden brown.
Be careful not to burn the meat.
If you’re using a skillet, preheat the oil by placing the bottom half of the ham in the hot pan with the bone side down.
Once heated through, flip the ham so that all sides cook evenly.
Cook each side until they have a nice crust.
Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Cut into slices just thick enough to hold their shape while still being able to eat them.
If you don’t want to go to this much trouble, you can buy this ready-made product online.
Rum Ham has been around since 1935.
What Are The Ingredients In A Rum Ham Recipe?
A good rum ham recipe will include the following items:
- Pecan nuts
- Brown sugar
- Whiskey or bourbon
The rest of the ingredients can be used depending on your preference.
You could use apple cider instead of whiskey if you don’t like alcohol.
Or add some fresh pineapple juice to give this recipe more tropical flair.
Don’t forget about vanilla extract!
What Is The History Of Rum Ham?
The origin story of this tasty treat goes back several centuries.
Before the invention of refrigeration, people enjoyed drinking warm alcoholic drinks during cold winter nights.
When people wanted to keep their beverages hot, they would often pour them into an iron pot called a “coffee urn” or a cast-iron pan known as a “Dutch oven.”
These pans were used by cooks to make soups and stews, but also served as vessels for heating up alcohols such as brandy, whiskey, and rum.
In colonial America, these coffee urns were filled with sugar, spices, and other condiments before being placed over coals.
The combination of heat and alcohol created a savory syrup called a glaze.
You can still find recipes calling for rum ham on many websites today.
When cooks added meat to the mixture, the result was a hearty stew known as “coffee-pot soup.”
During the 17th century, farmers began adding leftover bits from slaughtering animals to the mix.
By using the leftovers, people could use less expensive cuts of meat instead of buying whole hogs.
Thus, people started making rum ham with everything from pork chops and bacon to chicken feet and ears!
How Did Rum Ham Get Its Name?
The term “rum ham” was first used in 1847 by an Englishman named Thomas Gainsborough as part of his book titled The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, published in London.
According to the National Rum Association (NRA), this book has been credited with introducing the word “ham” to England.
However, there are other theories about where the word came from.
One theory states that the word “ham” originated in Germany around AD 1000.
Another says that it comes from the German word Hammel meaning “a place where hams were cured and stored.”
A third claims that the word “ham” originated in Scandinavia and entered into use in England during the Anglo-Saxon period.
Whichever story you choose to believe, all three seem plausible.
A brief history of ham
Ham is actually made up of many different types of meat.
Some examples include pork, turkey, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, and rabbit.
All of these meats can be smoked or cooked using various methods such as dry curing, wet smoking, and brining.
In addition to the meat itself, most hams have a variety of ingredients added to them before they go on sale.
These items may include salt, sugar, spices, herbs, garlic, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, star anise, rosemary, thyme, ginger, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, parsley, fennel, and more.
Why Is Rum Ham A Popular Dish?
The first recorded mention of this dish was in 1812 by the British writer Jane Austen in her novel Northanger Abbey.
She describes the dish as “a very nice one” and notes that it consists of slices of meat served with a thick layer of mustard on top.
Rum ham has been around since then, but it wasn’t until after World War II when people began adding rum or bourbon to their version of the dish.
Rum ham isn’t just a tasty treat, though.
The alcohol helps reduce the fat content of fatty meats like pork shoulder (or ham hock).
In addition, the alcohol lowers the pH level of the meat, making it more tender.
Some versions of the dish call for vinegar to be added to the mix, but experts recommend against doing so because it can ruin the taste of the finished product.
Here’s what you need to know about how to make your own rum ham.
- Ingredients: Ham hocks, onions, carrots, potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, salt, sugar, and white wine vinegar
- Step-by-step instructions:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 Celsius)
- Wash the ham hocks thoroughly under cold running water.
- Remove any debris from the surface of each piece of ham.
- Place cleaned ham pieces into a large pot filled with enough water to cover them.
- Add in onions, carrots, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, and sugar.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once boiling, turn down heat slightly and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered.
- After an hour, remove the pot from the stove and pour contents into a baking pan.
- Cover the pan with foil and place in the preheated oven for 2 hours at 325 F (163 C), stirring every half hour.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely before slicing the ham.
- To serve, slice the ham lengthwise into thin strips and arrange on a serving platter.
What Are Some Variations Of Rum Ham?
There are many different ways you can make this dish.
You have the option of using either bacon or pork belly in your recipe.
If you choose to use bacon, then you’ll need to cook it first before adding the other ingredients.
Pork belly on the other hand can be added straight from the package into the pan.
The main difference between these two types of recipes is how they taste when eaten.
Bacon Rum Ham Recipe
This recipe uses thick-cut applewood smoked bacon.
To prepare, cut each slice of bacon lengthwise so that you get four strips per piece.
Then lay them out flat on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 F (177 C) for 20 minutes until crispy.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- Ingredients: 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pound cooked ham slices
- 8 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped into small pieces
Directions: In a small bowl combine all ingredients except bacon.
Add bacon to mixture and stir again.
Pour onto a greased baking tray and bake at 375 F (190 C) for 10 minutes.
Flip over and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Pork Rum Ham Recipe
This recipe uses uncured pork belly.
First, remove any excess fat from the meat by slicing off the top layer of skin.
Next, place pork belly in a large pot and cover with water.
Bring up to boiling point and reduce heat to medium low.
Cook pork belly for 2 hours.
Drain liquid from the pot, discarding any remaining salt.
Place back in pot and let sit covered overnight.
The next day, drain liquid once more and discard.
Put pork belly back in pot and add enough cold water to just cover the pork.
Simmer for 8 hours until tender.
After eight hours, skim off any foam that has formed on surface of the liquid.
Once ready, chop pork into bite-sized chunks.
Combine with spices and mix thoroughly.
What Dishes Can Be Made With Rum Ham?
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to enjoy this dish.
Rum ham is perfect on its own, but if you want to make things even more delicious, try adding different ingredients to your rum ham.
- Spinach and Baked Goat Cheese – You may not think spinach goes well with ham, but when paired with tangy goat cheese, the combination works wonderfully.
- Add in chopped fresh basil and balsamic vinegar and you’ve got one tasty meal!
- Cranberry Sauce – If you like cranberries, then give them a chance in rum ham.
- Just add pureed cranberries into the mix before cooking.
- The result will be a rich sauce that pairs perfectly with ham.
One of the best ways to use up leftover ribs is to throw them into a pot with onions, garlic, and soy sauce.
After simmering for about 15 minutes, pour everything over top of the ribs along with apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.
Cook covered for another 30-45 minutes and serve warm.
A simple side dish of mashed potatoes is great on its own, but when paired with ham and other hearty toppings, they become truly special.
Try making mashed potatoes using half milk and half cream instead of all butter.
They’ll still taste delicious, but the creamy texture will be much lighter than traditional ones.
For an easy appetizer at any time of year, boil green beans just as normal and toss them in olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes until tender.
Before serving, toss them in a bowl with maple syrup.
How Do You Store Rum Ham?
You can keep your rum ham in the refrigerator for up to 10 days after cooking.
You’ll need to cook this recipe before storing it so that it doesn’t dry out over time.
If you want to freeze rum ham, you should make sure it has thawed completely before reheating or defrosting.
How Long Does Rum Ham Last?
Because this recipe uses smoked pork belly, the cooked ham doesn’t need refrigeration.
But if you want to keep it in your fridge indefinitely, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place it inside an airtight container.
Don’t forget to remove any excess air from the package before sealing it up tight.
If you have leftover ham, you can also freeze it.
Just pull out as much fat (and moisture) as possible by cutting off the rind and trimming away any visible fat on the meat.
Then put the ham into ziploc bags and pop them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Once thawed, slice your ham thinly and cook it according to the instructions below.
Note that frozen ham will take longer than fresh to cook through.
The time required depends on how thickly sliced the ham was when you froze it.
If you bought thin slices at the grocery store, you may only need 20 minutes per pound to fully cook them.
If you got thicker cuts, you may need closer to 30 minutes per pound.
You can always check to see what cooking times are recommended for your specific brand of ham online.
- 1 Pan
- 1 Oven
- Prepare your roasting pan by coating it with aluminium foil. Put the bone-in ham on a rack in the pan after that.
- Make a shallow 1/2 inch-deep diamond pattern on the ham’s surface. By scoring it, you may help the meat absorb the glaze, which is the main ingredient.
- 2 teaspoons of rum should be brushed over the scored ham before baking for 2 hours at 325 degrees, uncovered.
- Simply mix and spoon is all that’s required! Add the remaining ingredients, including the rum, to a small bowl. Remove the ham from the oven after it has roasted for two hours, then drizzle the glaze on top.
- The ham should be put back in the oven and baked for an additional 30 minutes.