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Bacon Jam

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“If anyone were to rank recipes by how much flavor you get compared to how much time they take to make, we think this one would be in the running for Most Flavor Per Minute,” write Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama in “Bacon Nation” (Workman Publishing, $14.95). Bacon Jam combines almost all the flavor giants into one dish: saltiness, meatiness, sweetness, peppery heat, bright acidity and fruitiness. It makes a wonderful condiment for hamburgers or grilled steak. It’s great with cream cheese on a toasted bagel. And the next time you serve an appetizer platter of assorted cheeses, be sure to include a bowl of Bacon Jam. Your guests will love a spoonful of it atop a slice of goat cheese or Brie. The recipe is really no more than a road map that you should feel free to adjust according to your taste. We like it hot and spicy but it’s delicious without jalapeños. When serving the jam with spareribs or grilled chicken, try rosemary instead of ginger. Bourbon has just the right amount of sweet, smooth smokiness that complements bacon so well, although a really peaty Scotch is worth a try, too.

Bacon Jam with cheese and crackers

Bacon Jam with cheese and crackers

Bacon Jam

1/2 pound (8-9 slices) applewood- or cherrywood-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch-wide pieces
1 medium-sized shallot, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons bourbon
3 pieces peeled fresh ginger, each about the size and thickness of a quarter
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon honey
Freshly ground black pepper
Crackers and assorted cheeses (optional), for serving

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp and the fat is rendered, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet.

Add the shallot and jalapeño to the skillet and cook over medium-low heat until the shallot is softened, about 2 minutes, stirring often and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Return the bacon to the skillet and add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, orange juice, bourbon, ginger and bay leaf. Cover the skillet and let come to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer gently, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the bacon mixture to a mini food processor and pulse until the bacon is finely diced but not puréed, 10 to 15 times, pausing several times to scrape down the side of the bowl.

Place the Bacon Jam in a small bowl and stir in the honey and a couple of grindings of black pepper. Serve with crackers and assorted cheese, if desired. The jam can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

From “Bacon Nation” by Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama

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