Bacon-Bourbon Jam

April 25, 2011

Bacon-Bourbon Jam

I managed to survive preparing another Easter dinner for my extended family of 25 guests. Thanks to some clever planning by my mother and me, my Sunday afternoon in the kitchen was a relaxed affair consisting mostly of shuffling pans into and out of  the one oven (with no warming drawer) in my sister’s kitchen. The stars had properly aligned, resulting in Mom serving her homemade lasagna (my gold standard for that dish), while I took care of the ham and side dishes.

As a reward for my work I took home the unsliced ham ends and all of the ham bones, as well as an “extra” pan of the lasagna. It’s good to be the sous chef.

Unfortunately, I lost an entire weekend of cooking at home, which is when I undertake most of the projects I write about here. Inspiration struck as I prepared breakfast and realized that I had not yet reported on the wonderful stuff I was spreading on my muffin: bacon-bourbon jam. I discovered the recipe at Serious Eats and, once aware of its existence, knew the Belm Utility Research Kitchen would be incomplete without it.

As explained in the recipe, most of the ingredients are things you’d normally have in the kitchen, and the use of supermarket bacon instead of fancier or homemade stuff is recommended. I assembled a pound and a half of bacon cut into one-inch pieces and divided into two portions, two diced medium onions, three cloves of chopped garlic, a half cup of dark brown sugar, a half cup of cider vinegar, a quarter cup of maple syrup, and six tablespoons each of brewed coffee and bourbon (Maker’s Mark).

I cooked the bacon in two skillets until it was crispy and the fat had rendered.

I poured off (and saved) all but a tablespoon of the fat, then cooked the onions and garlic for five minutes before adding the sugar, syrup, vinegar, coffee, and bourbon. After simmering for two minutes, I added the bacon and stirred to combine.

I transferred the mixture to a slow cooker set to high, and let it reduce for four hours.

I pulsed the bacon sludge in a food processer until it had a coarse texture, then transferred it to a few storage jars.

This jam is worth eating straight out of the jar, but I’ve been spreading it on toast and muffins, in particular the muffins I had left over from the eggs Benedict from scratch breakfast.

The jam is sweet, smoky, and meaty, with a slight bitter undertone from the coffee. I’m thinking it would be a welcome addition to grilled flatbread with goat cheese and arugula, or it could be used in the place of a more traditional fruit accompaniment to an aged Stilton. I’ll try those experiments soon, but in the meantime I have jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, as well as jam today.

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