As I mentioned in my previous post, this last Saturday found me puttering in the kitchen while the rain came. Ever since I’d seen this recipe months ago for “Bacon Jam,” I’d been curious to try it – I mean, it’s essentially bacon and sugar – how could it be bad? Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. AND, I’ve got a modification to the recipe, thanks to my mom, to make it even speedier! (Instant gratification, after all, being the goal with these types of things.)
Bacon Jam naturally requires bacon, and a nice pile of it. Once you’ve browned it off in a skillet, you remove it to a paper-towel-lined plate to wait its turn. Meanwhile, I used the tiniest remaining amount of the rendered bacon fat in a nonstick skillet to cook the onions and garlic. (This is a 14″ skillet by the way – a very well-loved wedding gift.)
What’s that big brown lump in the middle? That’s the dark brown sugar and maple syrup melting into the onions/garlic mixture, along with some strong coffee and some apple cider vinegar. The smell alone of this combination is heavenly, at least for me – it’s reminiscent of my mom’s warm German Potato Salad that’s made with bacon, potatoes, and a vinegar dressing (also one of life’s great pleasures). So once I smelled that smell, I knew I’d be happy.
The bacon is added back to the mixture and it’s time to reduce the liquid to make it thicker. Here’s where my method departs from the written recipe: instead of putting the mixture in your slow cooker on High for 3.5 – 4 hours uncovered, my mom had the brilliant idea of speeding up the process by putting it in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit in an uncovered Dutch oven. She was most certainly right! The mixture had thickened sufficiently after 1.5 hours, with only occasional stirring/babysitting on my part.
The final step is to pulse the mixture in the food processor to get a more jam-like consistency. I think the only trick here is to cover the opening in the lid of the food processor with a towel, to let the heat escape into the towel without having the lid blow off! (Like my purple rubber gloves in the background? Those were to protect my hands/wrists when transferring this boiling sugary liquid…) This was a quick process – only a few pulses and it was ready!
What you see above is about 3-4 cups total, divided unequally. The little container is for taking to the beach and sharing with cocktails and snacks as the sun sets. The big container is for me and Andrew. There is no logic behind saving the larger container for us – only greed. After the mixture cools in the fridge, it sets beautifully into a thick, but easily spreadable relish that tastes equally smoky, salty, and sweet. If you’re at all intrigued by this, you have to try it – I promise that you won’t be disappointed! It won’t travel far distances because it needs to be refrigerated, but it’s so easy that it’s no trouble to whip up a quick batch to take along as a perfect housewarming gift or summer BBQ accompaniment. Enjoy 🙂
PS: Knitting behind the scenes is finally going well after several swatching attempts with the Handmaiden Sea Silk. I’ve got a design for the stole on the needles, and I think I’ll be offering a smaller scarf pattern at the same time! Hooray for efficiency!
PPS: Tonight is the Museum Mile Festival along 5th Avenue – it includes free access to all the museums along the mile, like the Met, the Guggenheim, and the Cooper-Hewitt! Check it out if you’re on the Upper East Side of NYC tonight!