Proper attribution of a recipe can be a difficult thing if not considered from the start. For years, I would look up recipes and if they sounded good enough to try they would be bookmarked and once tried copied into a text file for reference. Sometimes I would save a link but not usually since it was in my Recipe Bookmarks. After a number of computer changes those bookmarks usually disappear.
My first memory of Bacon Jam was on an episode of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives on the Food Network over 10 years ago. Memory tells me it was from a food truck somewhere in the North-West. In my research for this article I have come to believe it was Skillet Foods https://skilletfood.com/catering-street-food/ although I have not been able to find the episode on-line and no recipe to view.
I found a recipe here https://www.food.com/recipe/bacon-jam-463068 which referred to https://www.notquitenigella.com/2009/10/08/bacon-jam-your-wildest-dreams-come-true/ . There are a few minor differences though so I may have seen it elsewhere. This is the closest to what I saved.
When I had my humble bar kitchen, I developed a Pork Belly Slider topped with my take on Bacon Jam and dressed with a lovely vinaigrette made with English Malt Vinegar. Bacon Jam also appeared on my signature burger with a slice of Fried Green Tomatillo and Goat Cheese or as an add on to fries or darn near anything between 2 buns. I even considered it on Tacos.
One night in an effort to impress, I buttered and toasted a baguette, added bacon jam and presented it to some women at the bar. I called it Bacon Jam on Toast and a week later, someone I had never seen before came in and asked for it. The bar maid looked on the menu and then came into the kitchen to ask if we had such an item. It became a popular off menu request.
No matter what recipe you choose, what can be bad with bacon, sweet caramelized onions, maple syrup and brown sugar? With all that sweet, the bitterness of coffee helps bring some balance. If you happen to have a cup of this morning’s coffee left over, you can use that but I found that a heaping spoonful of instant espresso works just as well. For all the flavor possible do not drain bacon drippings after crisping. Instead of simmering, you are making a confit with my method. Extra water is not needed, just cook it low and slow. After it is done to your liking, use a slotted spoon to remove excess bacon grease. When using a restaurant grill to heat the “jam” excess grease drains away on it’s own to the grease trap so I just left it all in for that cooking environment. This is a decadent fat laden treat. I don’t eat it often, but there is usually some in my freezer for when the itch hits me.
I only use one cooking vessel for this condiment. A large sauce pan will cook the chopped bacon although it takes a bit longer. Once the fat is rendered it is easy to get an even cook on the bacon. Just use a slotted spoon to remove bacon and add your onions for the next step.
For the home cooking environment, I save the wonderfully flavored oil as a seasoning. It is sweet, salty, slightly sour and a bit bitter. All of the flavors are there, why waste it? It is a good idea to strain it with your finest mesh strainer to take out the little bits which will burn easily.
Variations include almost any allium instead of the sweet onions. Shallots, spring onions, brown onions, or even leeks work well and all have their own tastes to add. Red onions did not work for me. Fresh chili peppers can be added instead of the guajillo. Try dried chile arbol or chile flakes if that is what you have. If you do not like the heat they can be left out but at least a bit of spice adds to the overall depth of flavor. Use different vinegar. I have used regular distilled, cider, rice, and sugar cane vinegars. For my taste though, Bragg’s Natural Cider Vinegar is the best.
Yet another tasty but Ugly food item.
Bacon Jam, I use this stuff on Everything
- 1 lb smoked bacon, chopped (thick bacon is best. If your store has bacon ends, they are perfect
- 4 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 large or 2 small sweet onions medium chop
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 dried Guajillo pepper- soaked, seeded and chopped
- 1 dried Chile Japones
- ½ tsp Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika
- 1 tsp instant espresso or 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar, Bragg’s is the best
- 1⁄4 cup maple syrup, the real stuff
- freshly ground black pepper
- Splash of low sodium soy sauce
- Cut bacon cross-ways an inch or less
- Lightly brown in a large sauce pan, for 1 lb of bacon 2.5 quarts or so should be fine. Just the edges should start to brown, do not cook like you eat it for breakfast
- Remove bacon but leave all fat in the pan
- Add chopped onions and cook on low heat until translucent
- Add chopped guajillo and chile japones, if you like more heat, chop the small chile to release the capsaisin
- Add garlic and sauté for just a minute or so, the garlic should not be brown or it can get bitter
- Add vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce and stir
- Add brown sugar, paprika, pepper and instant coffee. Mix well
- Return bacon to the pan
- Bring to slow simmer and reduce heat so there is a slight bubble
- Cook for 2 hours stirring every so often to prevent sticking
- If you like little heat, remove the chile japones and discard
- After it cools enough, use slotted spoon to remove jam to blender or food processor and pulse a few times. Remember that fat is flavor so save excess grease for other uses
- Keeps for 3 or 4 days refrigerated in a tight glass container, but freezes well. I use sandwich ziplock baggies for small portions since I usually use 3 lbs of bacon at a time
- Serve on toast, burgers, fries, or on top of fried eggs. Makes the best deviled eggs you have ever eaten.
- Because this preparation uses the abundant fat from the bacon instead of water, after draining it will be clumpier than other methods. It must be heated to melt the remaining solid fat.
- When using the food processor or blender to finish the jam, only blitz half if you like a chunkier texture.
- Save soaking water from guajillo to add to final strained jam if it is too thick. Also can be used to thin a bit in blender.
- Consider using excess oil to fry chicken pieces or even shrimp ( I am going to do just that tonight 🙂 )
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