This bacon jam (you could also call it relish or chutney) makes a great addition to morning biscuits or toast. But it’s also terrific atop a cracker (preferably with a bed of cream cheese or pimento cheese) as a canapé.
Or use it on about anything you can imagine. If you can think of it, it’ll probably be good.
Because bacon. One of our favorite food groups.
Recipe: Bacon Jam with Jalapeño
You can also use this jam as a “sauce” on main dishes. Dollop a bit on sautéed scallops. Add a spoonful to grilled salmon, pork, or chicken. Or even steak. Add a tablespoon or two to your next stir fry. And wake up your morning oatmeal with a garnish of bacon jam (we haven’t tried the last two, but why not?)
Prep time for this recipe is 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds at least an hour, often more. We’d allow at least 2 hours for making this from start to finish (though much of the cooking time is unattended).
This jam will keep for at least a week if refrigerated in an airtight container. Much longer than that calls for freezing (because although this is called “jam,” it can’t match a traditional preserve for keeping qualities).
- 1 pound bacon, preferably thick cut
- ~2 cups diced red onion
- 1 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced finely (see Notes)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup coffee (the stronger the better)
- ¾ cup brown sugar (see Notes)
- Cut the bacon into pieces of about ½ inch, then scatter the pieces across the surface of a large frying pan (this is a lot of bacon, so do it in two batches if necessary). Place the frying pan over medium stovetop heat, then cook the bacon until it’s fairly well done, but not crisp. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels.
- Remove most of the rendered bacon fat from the pan, leaving about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Add the chopped onion and jalapeño, then sauté until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes).
- Scrape the cooked onion and jalapeño into a 2-quart saucepan (along with the bacon fat). Add the cooked bacon, the vinegar, the coffee, and the brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook – stirring every 10 to 15 minutes – until the liquid has become thick and syrupy (and has largely disappeared). This will take at least 45 minutes, usually closer to an hour, but sometimes up to 1½ hours. Taste the mixture. If it's not sweet enough for your palate, add a bit more brown sugar (or some maple syrup; see Notes), then simmer a minute or two to incorporate. If the mixture is not spicy enough, add a bit of hot sauce (see Notes) and simmer a minute or two.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and cool until it reaches room temperature (or slightly warmer). You can use the jam immediately or refrigerate it for later use. If storing, scrape the jam into a lidded container – a glass mason-type jar is perfect – and refrigerate it until ready to use. If you refrigerate the jam, warm it to room temperature before using; you can microwave it briefly if necessary.
|Canapé with Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jam|
- You can prepare this recipe entirely in the skillet if you prefer (the liquid will reduce a bit faster and you’ll have one less pot to wash). However, we prefer scraping the onion and bacon into a saucepan and adding the liquid, then reducing the mixture. It takes a bit longer, but this method allows the flavor more time to deepen.
- How much jalapeño to use? Your choice. One pepper will give you a small amount of heat, and few people will find the result too spicy. Another jalapeño or two will give you more flavor (and more heat).
- BTW, if you don’t seed the jalapeño peppers, they’ll be hotter (much of their heat is contained in the seeds).
- How sweet should this dish be? It’s “jam,” so there should be noticeable sweetness to it. We think the recipe is good as written, but you may want to add more brown sugar. Many recipes for bacon jam call for adding maple syrup (which does result in a slightly more complex flavor), so you may want to use ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup maple syrup.
- How spicy should this jam be? Just a touch, we think (it’s best with a tingle of heat, not a burn). But if you want to make a spicier version, add some hot sauce at the end. Or add chipotle chile powder (a teaspoon or two) when you add the brown sugar in Step 3.
- We like to use red onions in this dish, but yellow or white ones work too. Or shallots.
- Many recipes for bacon jam include garlic. We don’t think it adds much to this dish, but include it if you wish (sauté it with the onion and jalapeño in Step 2).
- When this jam is refrigerated, the bacon fat will congeal. So this is not something that you want to use straight from the refrigerator. We usually microwave it for 30 seconds or so. You can also warm it in a saucepan. Or let it sit at room temperature (though we think this jam is better when slightly warm).
“Bacon jam?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “With jalapeño? I’m in love!”
“Fun recipe,” I said. “Jam packed with flavor, you might say.”
“Maybe you should jam the brakes on those jokes,” said Mrs K R. “They’re getting old.”
“I prefer to think of them as well preserved,” I said.
“I was expecting bacon,” said Mrs K R. “Instead, I’m getting ham-bushed.”
“Speaking of which, you’ve heard of Francis Bacon,” I said. “But you probably don’t know about his son, Chris P. Bacon, heh heh heh.”
“If you keep peppering me with these comments, I may need to turn up the heat,” said Mrs K R.
Better stop before I get myself in a jam.
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