So it’s all just been lots of travel posts around here lately, but can you blame me? Who wants to be indoors at all during the summer, let alone in the kitchen cooking. But I recently had a pound of bacon staring back at me in the fridge and needed to use it up, so what better to do than whip up a batch of bacon jam.
Yes it’s just what it sounds like, a sweet sticky bacon mixture that’s perfect for spreading on just about everything. The flavour is actually pretty deep and complex – sweet, spicy, smoky, and salty all at once.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1lb thick cut smoked bacon
2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
black pepper, to taste (optional)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup brewed espresso
1/4 cup brown sugar
I get my bacon from the farmer’s market because I think it has a lot more flavour than anything you can get from the plastic packets in the supermarket.
Cut the bacon in to small pieces and cook on medium-low heat in a wide bottomed pan. You want the pan to have a large enough surface area so all of the bacon browns. If the pan is too small the bacon will just stew and you won’t get any of that lovely caramelisation you’re looking for.
While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion in to a smallish dice and mince the garlic.
This is the bacon cooked about half way. You want the bacon to brown but not become crispy, that should take 15-20 minutes.
When the bacon is ready, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Take out all of the rendered fat save a tablespoon or two. In the same pan add the onions, garlic, crushed red pepper and black pepper.
Cook until the onions are softened and translucent, do not let them brown too much. Add more of the bacon fat as needed. You really want to release as much of the sugars in the onions as possible.
When the onions are done, add back the bacon and all of the remaining ingredients and scrape all of the bacon flavour from the bottom of the pan. Bring this mixture to a boil for 2-3 minutes and then lower to a slow simmer. Taste at this point to make any adjustments.
Cook on a very low heat for 45-60 minutes until you get a thick, syrupy consistency. The jam should be shiny when finished.
Once cooled take a portion of the jam (about two thirds) and coarsely chop it in the food processor. Mix the chopped jam back in with the rest of the batch.
As I mentioned you can use this with pretty much any dish – sandwiches (especially breakfast sandwiches), burgers, bruschetta, on eggs – but my favourite way to eat it is to tear of a piece of crusty bread and top it with a thick slice of cheddar and a heaping spoonful of the jam. So good.