Friday, February 22, 2013

Boozy Bacon Jam

One thing I love about Chicago is the amazing food you can get at random bars. And I'm not just talking about really good wings or burgers or tater tots (which of course many bars offer). I'm talking amazing restaurant-style dishes like shrimp and grits (@ Fountainhead), pulled pork and macaroni and cheese sandwich on Texas toast (@ Rocks) and beef tongue risotto or arancini served on top of braised beef (@ Three Aces).

Ahhhh, Three Aces. With it's great food, rock atmosphere, and delicious/unique drinks- is one of my favorite bar and eateries in Chicago. And it was at Three Aces that I first encountered bacon jam (served atop their insanely delicious burgers). So when I saw a recipe for bacon jam I just had to give it a try.

It was a perfect recipe to make in bulk and divide in mini canning jars to distribute as part of my Christmas goodies. With all those caramels, s'mores, and candied citron I figured a little savory treat would be a nice complement.

Lots of people asked me how exactly to eat their bacon jam, and my suggestion to them was to use it like you would use bacon. Obviously, it tastes great with burgers. It also works great on a slice of toast topped with avocado, a hard boiled egg, and tomato slices. Or on a BLT sandwich. Or on a breakfast sandwich. Just think of it as spreadable bacon, and you're good to go!

So what exactly goes into bacon jam?? Well, the recipes online seem completely varied. Obviously the main ingredient is bacon.

I doubled the recipe, which requires double the bacon. Thick cut, it's the only way to go.

After bacon you've got things like onion, spices, coffee, maple syrup, vinegar, and bourbon to the mix. Yea, I know, it's a random list of ingredients that sounds a bit disgusting. But the final product is a unique, savory spread with really concentrated bacon-y flavor.

To be totally honest, my bacon jam didn't really taste like the Three Aces bacon jam, which I feel has a much more pronounced sauteed onion flavor. But it is delicious in its own right- like a thick, bacon-flavored vinegary BBQ sauce. I might play around with the ingredients a bit next time to better suit my tastebuds (reduce the vinegar) and my wallet (eliminate the bourbon as I'm not sure it added much flavor), but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out this time.

Bacon gets really bubbly when you cook it! 

And because it's so potent, a little bacon jam goes a long way. So don't feel back about gifting smaller 4 oz jars.

I doubled the recipe and had enough for ~18 mini jars 

And my favorite part: Spoon Fork Bacon had a bunch of pre-made labels you could use on your jars! Too cute! I modified it a bit to fit on my little lids- and it worked great.

Buen Provecho,

Boozy Bacon Jam, from Spoon Fork Bacon
Makes 2+ cups of bacon jam.

I'm providing the recipe as-written, but I didn't use all the ingredients as I didn't have some on hand (ie, chile powder, smoked paprika [I used regular paprika instead). Also, I'd suggest tasting certain ingredients before adding the entire quantity listed-- in particular, the vinegar. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 the amount, taste, and add more if you want more of a punch. I felt the entire vinegar amount (which I added before tasting) was a bit too strong for my liking, even though I'm a pretty big fan of vinegar-y foods.

1 lb (applewood smoked) bacon, I like thick cut
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
½ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup sweet bourbon or brandy
2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar (or more apple cider vinegar + a bit of tarragon)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Render bacon on medium-high for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the pot, add butter and melt.
  3. Add onion, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and cook for 10 to15 minutes.
  4. Add shallot, garlic and spices and sauté for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Season with pepper.
  5. Return the bacon to the pot and stir until well combined.
  6. Pour the bourbon/brandy into the bacon mixture and cook the liquid down for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Skim off any fat/grease that has formed at the top and discard, if necessary. (I didn't find any excess fat at the top).
  10. Pour the mixture into a food processor and process until desired consistency is achieved.
  11. Serve warm or store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.


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