Flaming Fireball Ham
Josh Scherer/Thrillist

This Flaming Fireball Ham Is What Your Holiday Dinner Is Missing

Like all great recipes, this was inspired by Danny DeVito. In episode 2, season 7 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia -- the single greatest sitcom of all time -- Devito’s character, Frank Reynolds, devises a rock-solid plan to drink on the beach. He turns a ham into an edible rum sponge. Sort of like those vodka-soaked watermelons -- just with more protein. It’s genius.

One summer while I was in college and living 50 yards from the ocean, my roommates and I decided it was finally time to try and pull off our own rum ham. We soaked a spiral sliced ham in a whole handle of cheap rum overnight, grabbed our towels, and hit the sand, ready to get our daily dose of liquor and saturated fats in one go.

You think you know what rum ham is going to taste like. You think that the natural sweetness of rum is somehow going to play off the sugar-cured ham. But you thought wrong. That rum ham was the single worst thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. If you can make it past the smell of straight-up gasoline and animal fat and actually get the alcohol meat to your mouth, you are a true champ (and you should probably get your nose checked).

The taste was somehow worse than the smell. When you first bite in, your body senses the rum and assumes a sort of bracing, pre-gag reflex posture, like it knows the worst is yet to come. You’re going to instinctively inhale through your mouth, the alcohol fumes are going to take your breath away, and you’re going to start coughing aggressively, which makes choking down the ham difficult, but not impossible. You will probably throw up. It will not be pretty.

But my roommates and I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good ham -- that shit is expensive, after all. We had to figure out a way to remove the alcohol. Do we rinse the ham? Wring out the meat like a wet gym towel? No. No, we lit that sucker on fire. We took a blowtorch to the ham, which burned off all the alcohol, and we ate like kings that day. The sugars in the cheap rum even caramelized and created a natural glaze. Sometimes life throws you a bone.

"Ham soaked in liquor is very, very bad. Ham soaked in liquor and lit on fire is very, very good."

So to recap: Ham soaked in liquor is very, very bad. Ham soaked in liquor and lit on fire is very, very good. But how do you transform the dish from a happy accident to a Christmas dinner centerpiece that you could maybe even feed grandma?

You replace the rum with some festive, cinnamon-sugary Fireball whiskey. The word play is too good to pass up. Get it? Fireball? Ahhh, you get it. Then you make an actual, less-janky glaze to go on that ham  by combining cola, more Fireball, and some brown sugar with butter.  Don’t forget to throw in some diced pineapple and Maraschino cherries for color and pop (you are definitely going to Instagram this after all).

The final step is to soak it in some of that cinnamon liquor so beloved by frat boys and light it on fire. Just, you know, be safe about it. Make sure that your pan isn’t so hot that it is smoking, and most importantly don’t pour directly from the bottle into the pan. Pour a few ounces into a separate container and use that instead. It just means less potential liquor in the equation that could singe your face.

Most importantly, keep a large tub of baking soda near the stove. If shit hits the fan, and for whatever reason the flame is out of control, shut off the burner and smother the flame in baking soda. (7th grade science class to the rescue.)

Now, go. Go make this the most memorable, albeit totally insane Christmas meal of your life.

Flaming Fireball Ham
Josh Scherer/Thrillist

Flaming Fireball Ham

Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 14 hungry people

8-10-pound fully cooked spiral-sliced ham
750 ml bottle Fireball whiskey
20 ounces of cola
4 tablespoon of butter
1 pineapple
1 cup maraschino cherries
1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the ham in a large baking dish and pour one cup of Fireball evenly over the ham, making sure it gets in the creases of each slice. Throw the ham uncovered in the oven for 45 minutes. It’s fully cooked, so really, you’re just warming it up.
  • While the ham is heating up, make the glaze. Heat a large sauce pan on high then add two cups of Fireball, the cola, butter, brown sugar, and stir. While the mixture is heating up, peel, core, and chop your pineapple into 1-inch chunks, and pull the stems off your cherries. When the glaze comes to a boil, add your fruits and continue to stir until the glaze reduces by half. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes. You want the glaze to have the consistency of warm maple syrup.
  • Take the ham out of the oven and transfer it to the largest saute pan you have. An 8-10 lb ham should fit in a saute pan that is 12-inches in diameter. Mine did. Crank the heat to high then pour your glaze over the top of the ham. Let the ham and glaze cook for 2-3 minutes, and then pour a cup of Fireball over the top. Quickly and carefully use a BBQ starter to ignite the alcohol. Turn off the burner off and let the flame burn out naturally — sort of like your dreams of becoming the next LeBron James.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Josh Scherer is the author of the forthcoming cookbook, Culinary Bro-Down: Recipes for a Dope-Ass Life. He thinks Taco Bell is the greatest restaurant the world has ever known. Follow him @culinarybrodown