Friday, December 10, 2010

Bacon Jam

About a year ago, I was at a conference on social media and one of the "gurus" speaking made mention of bacon. He said something simple, "Bacon is huge. People love talking about it in social media." There was a kernel of truth that resonated for me--bacon is the candy bar of meats. It's the adorable puppy of the food world. Everyone loves it, even vegetarians and those who keep Kosher, in my opinion.

My love for cooking comes from two equal forces: enjoyment of the process, and opportunity to delight the eater. Bacon, I attest, is the most delightful force in the modern food world.  Sure, I like it, but I like other foods just the same (cheese, lamb, curry, pho...). Bacon, however, is the surest crowdpleaser, and for that reason, I explore unexpected uses--candied bacon, bacon-bleu-cheese dressing, and last year I even made my own bacon peanut brittle.

So, when I decided to give some homemade treats for Christmas this year, I remembered a bacon urban legend, Bacon Jam. I searched high and low for a recipe and found a few. This concoction might just win in a bacon-off, but I recommend you experiment with some further tweaking.  Here's the base recipe, I made a double batch and canned it, and that yielded only 8 4-oz jars. The bacon you use will drastically affect your final product, so choose wisely. Also, this is definitely "project cooking," note the near-empty bottle of Charles Shaw intentionally pictured as timekeeping device.

The end product is every bit as delightful and luxurious as it sounds--equally at home on a fancy endive leaf with some blue cheese or atop a humble burger.  Something tells me when John returns from his trip, he's going to make a bacon jam and peanut butter sandwich. And I will shake my head but secretly really enjoy it.

Update: We just made bleu cheese burgers and smeared bacon jam and homemade ketchup on them, with some dijon mustard and mushrooms.  A-mazing.  Also good: rye party bread topped topped with bacon jam and some blue cheese crumbles, toasted in toaster oven for a few minutes.
Bacon Jam, adapted from the lovely Not Quite Nigella

1 pound smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium brown onion sliced (I used non-sweet yellow)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Crystal sauce, to taste
1 cup coffee (DG note: adding more coffee can make it taste burnt, so take it easy)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup (I ran out of maple syrup and used honey to make up the difference)
Worcestire sauce, to taste Black pepper to taste
Water (or stock, Dr. Pepper, or Coke)
Balsamic vinegar

1. In a cast iron skillet over med-high, fry the bacon until just starting to brown. Remove it while it's still flacid and slightly peachy. Drain on paper towels.

2. When all bacon is fried, cut into 1 inch pieces and add to a Dutch Oven.

3. Fry onion and garlic in remaining bacon fat, low and slow, for about 30 minutes until translucent. *Caution, neither the bacon nor the onion/garlic should be allowed to burn, even in spots. Burnt flecks will be hard to remove from the overall mixture and can impart a burnt taste, unsurprisingly.

4. While onion cooks, add remaining ingredients to Dutch oven, except water and balsamic. 

5. When onions and garlic are soft and translucent, squeeze unwanted bacon grease from mixture--my end results were carmelized with bacon grease, not what what I wanted. Add to Dutch oven with bacon mixture. Cook over low heat, simmering for 2 hours. Stir, and check every 25 minutes. Add 1/4c liquid in increments of 25 minutes if mixture needs it.  Mixture should smell heavenly, and turn a deep rich brown over time.

6. When the mixture tastes how you want it to, transfer to a food processor and blend til it reaches the consistency you like. I add balsamic here (about 2 TB) to offset the richness.

1 comment:

bebes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.