Okay, so people always talk about getting their ‘jam on’. Whatevs, you really want to jam?
Make your own bacon jam. That’s right, we said BACON. Made into jam.
Heads explode just thinking about the idea right there. You can buy bacon jam, and some of it is pretty respectable in the market. But the key is finding out what you like about it and making it your own.
Bacon, as in cured pork belly, has been kicking around some 3500 years, hitting the historical radar about 1500 BCE. Even though those versions only bear slight resemblance to the bacon we know, it is no surprise that it has been used and cooked and tweaked a multitude of ways. So, there is no clear origin story of bacon jam, which is really too bad, because the inventor fully deserves accolades and a toast to them!
What the what?
You poor deprived souls that have not had the pleasure of trying bacon jam, we pity you. Think sweet and sour, onion, spicy heat, brown sugar and of course bacon all melded together into the best condiment in the history of food. In our humble opinion anyway. So, we had to learn how to make it.
You start put with bacon, cook it much of the way to doneness, drain the fat and set it aside. Then you start the process of caramelizing a bunch of onions. Slinging other tasty flavors like coffee, vinegar, brown sugar and some heat, all simmered together then simmered some more with the bacon thrown in. Chuck it all in a food processor, pulse away and voila, bacon jam ready to eat or bottle for storage. And we are here to show you how it is done.
What do you do with it?
That is a fair question. Almost. Come on, it has bacon in it, what do you not do with it? So far, spoon over ice cream in oy research. Although, there was a small faction in the family that was happy to dress up some vanilla bean ice cream with this stuff.
But seriously, the first application is with potatoes. Baked or boiled or smashed – click here to learn about smashed potatoes, another favorite – taters and bacon are a match made in heaven. And eggs. Fill an omelet with bacon jam and sharp cheddar cheese, or just a dollop with your poached eggs, or mixed into your deviled eggs, or…you get the idea. Try it in a grilled cheese sandwich, or on a club sando, or avocado toast, the list is virtually endless because you can even it on a spoon straight from the fridge. The stuff is good, really good, and we know that you will become a big fan once you taste it.
Pro Tips and Tricks
It’s not just about the meat
For this one rare instance, you do not have to buy the best bacon you can afford. For strip bacon we heartily recommend spending the money to get a better product, it does matter. Here, you will end up melding so many components together that you can use an inexpensive variety and still get great results.
As a matter of fact, we use the bacon ends and pieces you can find in most grocery stores. First you cut it down to smaller pieces, then you cook it almost done. Then you add all the other goodies, strong flavors themselves, and you finish with throwing it all in a food processor to chop/blend together. When all is said and done it will be hard to tell if you used the top shelf product or more of a value brand.
This is an important component of the end result. You want to avoid the extremes of vinegar, too strong or too mild. Balsamic vinegar is too strong, rice wine vinegar too mild, for instance. Our favorite is good old basic cider vinegar, the normal 5% acetic acid level, nothing fancy. You can use what you like, just shoot for the middle of the road flavor-wise.
Other Ingredient thoughts
Similar to may recipes, ours calls for coffee. Strong coffee like cold brew or espresso. Typically, the caffeine will not be a factor, but feel free to use decaf if that is important. Cooking Sherry is readily available at a good price. There is not much reason to break into your Amontillado stash or anything, again, you are mixing it with a bunch pf dynamic flavors. Other sweet white wines can also be used if you have them on hand. As far as onions go, we like the sweet onions. They caramelize well, and offer mellow rich flavors after cooking. Red onions bleed a lot of color making for a weird end result. White onions are fine, simple yellow onions do well, green onions or scallions don’t fit in very well.
Batch size and storage thoughts
This recipe also scales well. Feel free to multiply it as you see fit. For example, bacon ends and pieces often come in a three-pound package and work just fine for this project. You can keep bacon jam for quite a while in your fridge. Because many of us have different sensibilities about how long to keep food, we will tell you that one week is as long as you should store this. From our experience only, we have put it in a mason jar in the fridge and felt comfortable serving it over the next four weeks based on acid levels and temperature control. You must make this decision for yourself and family. Now, let’s get cooking.
Bacon Jam Recipe
- 1 Pound Bacon
- 1 Large Onion
- ⅓ Cup Brown sugar
- ¼ Cup Strong brewed coffee
- ¼ Cup Cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Cooking sherry
- ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 Teaspoon Black pepper
- Coarsely chop bacon
- Heat a deep skillet over medium heat
- Chop onion into about ¼ inch pieces
- Put bacon in skillet, cook stirring regularly
- Cook until the bacon is browning but not fully cooked
- Remove the bacon to a colander or paper towel lined pan.
- Leave a couple tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet and return to the heat
- Add the onions and the brown sugar to the skillet
- Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the onions have begun to caramelize
- Put the bacon back in the pan
- Add the ¼ cup strong brewed coffee, ¼ cup cider vinegar, 2 Tablespoons cooking sherry, ¼ teaspoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Continue cooking, stir every few minutes, until thickened somewhat, about 30 minutes
- Allow to cool to a workable temperature
- Run through a food processor with standard blade, using quick pulses until it has been ground down to about rice size pieces.
- Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. Enjoy!