“Now, just hold it right there,” you’re thinking. “Bacon jam? Jam, like the sweet spread one puts on their morning toast and eats for breakfast?”
Well, not exactly. But pretty darn close. This…condiment…as I’ll call it, is TOTALLY DELICIOUS. And totally worthy of being eaten with a crusty piece of bread, on pork chops or roast chicken, or hell…spooned right out of the jar and into your mouth. Get creative with its use. I could see a spoonful going into a pot of chili or tomato soup, in a batch of marinara, or maybe even whisked into a vinaigrette.
Now, I am aware that bacon, as an ingredient, may have run its course. What with bacon on doughnuts, in cakes, and infused in vodkas. But you know what, I’m okay with bacon. Bacon and I have a healthy relationship. We don’t see much of each other, but when we do, it’s quality. I bring out the best in bacon and in return, bacon will always have a place in my culinary repertoire.
Let me tell you that this jam is dead simple to make and you may, in fact, have many of the ingredients already on hand, just waiting to come together and make your house smell amazing. I chose to finish this jam off in the slow cooker, but if you don’t have one (really, why don’t you have one? they’re so great!) you can simply finish it off in a saucepan on the stove. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scorch.
Feel free, also, to play around with the flavors. Taste as you go along. Especially if spice isn’t your thing. I increased a few things, and toned down a few others, but overall, I think this batch of bacon jam is perfect and I can’t wait to make more. It yields about 2 1/2 cups of jam, so please, share with your bacon-loving friends and family. They’ll appreciate it.
Spicy Bacon Jam
Yields about 2 1/12 cups
** Remember, many of these ingredient amounts can be increased or decreased. Don’t stress if you don’t have the exact type or amount. Substitute if you have to. I’ll still love you for it.
1 1/2 pounds pepper bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 whole large onion (yellow or white), diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (if not using pepper bacon, use 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, as well)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally and rendering all of the fat. You want the bacon to be slightly crispy, but not burned to a crisp. This will take a while due to the volume of bacon being cooked. Just be patient and enjoy the aroma filling your kitchen.
When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon to to a paper towel-lined plate to drain more of the fat. Pour off the remaining bacon fat from the pan, reserving for later. Seriously, save it. It’s pure gold. Put it in an empty jam jar and put it in your fridge. Use it to fry potatoes or anything else you want to infuse with bacony goodness.
Return your skillet back to the heat and add the butter, onions, and garlic. Let them begin to sweat, stirring and cooking on medium heat until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Try not to bring too much color to them.
Add the salt and pepper (if using), along with the brown sugar. Stir well, and allow the sugar to melt into the onions. Resist the urge to stop there and just eat the caramelized onions. Mmmm. Remember you have a mission and forge on toward your goal!
After a few minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and let the mixture come to a boil. Toss in the reserved bacon and stir to combine.
Now is the time when you can put the mixture in a slow cooker, like I did. If you use a slow cooker, cook it on low heat for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have a slow cooker, place mixture in saucepan and cook on low heat on your stove top. You may find that you’ll cook it for a shorter period of time on the stove top, but honestly, I don’t know. I love the convenience of a slow cooker. Just turn it on and walk away!
After 3 hours, use your immersion blender to blend the mixture to the desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender or food processor will work just as well. You’re going for a jam-like consistency, with visible bits of bacon running throughout. Don’t go too far or you’ll just have bacon paste, and that doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing, does it?
After blending, put mixture in a saucepan and cook on the stove over medium heat until most (if not all) of the liquid has evaporated. You want spreadable, gorgeous bacon jam here. Be sure to stir along the way and adjust the heat as necessary. You don’t want to scorch it after you’ve gone to all this work to produce something so lovely.
Place mixture in a sealed container (or share with your friends and family). This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.