Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bacon Jam!!!!

A couple weeks ago I decided that I'd be ambitious and try to make some bacon jam.  Bacon jam you ask?  Yeah, it's basically a spread consisting of bacon, onion, and spices.  I thought that it would make good Christmas gifts for the foodies I know. I decided to only make a small batch before cooking down 3 POUNDS of bacon.
"Good Quality Bacon."  I'm not a big bacon eater-unless it is really crispy and a lot of the fat has rendered off, so I had to ask Mike for help on what constitutes "Good Quality Bacon."  I settled on Hormel's Black Label Bacon from Sam's Club because Mike said, "That's higher quality than the bacon we usually buy." *I'm not sure if Mike was referring to the turkey bacon that I buy for myself. 

I also bought a huge container of real maple syrup from Sam's Club.
Here's a secret...when I want to experiment in the kitchen, I search online for recipes. I scour the Internet (okay for about 5-10 minutes) and then compile the recipes that sound good based on the ingredients and how they match in my mind.

I then compile them, omit ingredients that I:
 1) do not like; 2) do not have in the house; 3) am not willing to purchase
In regards to the cooking technique I choose:
1) the quickest and easiest method, unless there is a apparent reason why the extra time is a necessity
2) use the technique that involves equipment and gadgets that I have in the house
If I realize that I do not have enough of an ingredient while I am cooking
1) Omit the ingredients
2) Substitute it with ingredient(s) that I think will work.  (i.e. I used some brown sugar once in a lemon bar recipe because I ran out of granulated sugar). 
Putting the cooked bacon back into the pot with the caramelized onions and other goodies.

Stirring all the ingredients in a crock pot.
Bacon Jam-My Version (an amalgamation of all the recipes I liked online)
1 pound good quality smoked bacon (cut into 1" pieces)
2 cups of thinly sliced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1/4 t of chili flakes
1 cup coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 t black pepper

Cook the bacon in batches over medium high heat until the fat is rendered off the bacon and it is just starting to crisp. Set the bacon on the side. Pour out the bacon grease (you can use it for something else).

Keep 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan/pot and then dd the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions have caramelized.

Return the bacon to the pan/pot and add all the remaining ingredients (sugar, coffee, spices, etc). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

*For the next step, I decided to transfer the mixture from the pot into a crock pot.
Simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours until you can no longer tell the onion from the bacon and it has a thick, jam-like consistency and deep rich brown color. Occasionally stir the mixture and add water if it looks like it is becoming to dry.

Cool the mixture and then transfer it to a food processor. Chop/blend the mixture until the desired texture that you would like. I like the slightly rustic look of chunks of bacon in my jam, so I did not puree my mixture.

Let cool and place in a glass jars, the refrigerate. Take out of fridge ~1 hr before serving, so jam will be at room temperature.  I haven't tested this out, but I'm sure you could heat the jam in the microwave before serving too. Serve with crackers.

Some of the other websites I viewed said to add a splash of vanilla extract to round out the flavor.  Mike wanted to add some smokey notes to the jam. I did not want to ruin the jam, so we tested out these extra flavoring in small containers. We're glad to report that the addition of either flavor creates an edible tasty jam.  Although when I make the jam again for gifts I do plan on adding the liquid smoke....and I'm still teetering on the addition of vanilla extract. 

I brought it to a friend's house for a party and it was well received. That's enough of a seal of approval before I start making it for gifts. 


K and S said...

sounds and looks delicious! happy holidays!

Razzie said...

I made something similar last Christmas. I added Cruzan Blackstrap rum, it is a really dark molasses like rum(it is black in color) and adds a nice vanilla and some smoke/aged notes. You could try that as well, I think it costs about $10/bottle, plus its my favorite for banana's foster and to splash in tropical drinks, though it can be overpowering if you use too much

genkitummy said...

Happy Holidays to you to Kat!
Aaron-We always seem to think alike and make the same foods! I've never heard of that rum, but I'll go look for it. In the county I live in hard alcohol is only sold in liquor stores, so I only make <1 trip/year to the liquor store. I was thinking about experimenting with whiskey cakes, so I'll have to make a trip down there for that.