Types of jams in my life:
- Traffic jams. Street or shopping-related.
- Copier jams. Bane of my professional existence.
- Jammin’. A cookie rager without Ke$ha or Cee Lo? Blasphemous.
- Jammed. As in my schedule. I don’t have time for anything these days…
And now, bacon jam. To tell the truth, I actually don’t even like bacon. Well, I only really enjoy bacon over French toast, doused in maple syrup… which I haven’t eaten in years. Years! But even then, I’d order turkey sausage over bacon any day. Hmm… just thinking about this makes me want to cook a French toast breakfast — a real one, where you soak thick slices of homemade brioche overnight in eggs and vanilla, and then, rather than ruin it with fake maple syrup, top it with confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, and strawberries. Gah! I’ve gotten so off-track. And I’m revealing potential blog posts. Where’s the fun in that? Back to bacon.
The idea came from gchat (where all good ideas begin). My snickerdoodle recipe source, who has since moved back to California – so lame, I know – suggested doing our own cookie exchange. He and I also happen to be members of a bacon list-serve, started by another college friend. [Side note: to this day, I can’t remember how I became swallowed by the bacon- thread, but it’s entertaining, ridiculous, and a great way to keep in touch with those friends, so the carnivorous anti-kosher thread continues to feed the black hole also known as my inbox.] Interestingly enough, Martha highlighted bacon recipes in one of her magazines last month. The only one that looked remotely appealing to me happened to be the one about bacon jam, probably because it involved maple syrup. As you can imagine, the combination of these three things – gchat cookie exchange conversation, bacon list-serve, and Martha’s recipe – fell perfectly into place.
But really, few things are more disgusting to me than frying bacon. The smell, sight, and texture of it trigger gag reflexes. Seriously. Just editing the pre-jam bacon photos made me feel sick to my stomach. I was also about one-hundred percent positive that I would be disgusted by the jam, and that I’d happily jar it and send it across the country. And then leave all the windows and doors open to air out the house as soon as scientifically possible.
I apologize to bacon-lovers out there for the bacon-bashing. But it’s how I truly feel; I don’t choose to be this way. I’m sure you feel the same about something that I may very well love (possibly goose liver pate or something from the spectrum of Filipino food).
Anyway, as shocked as I was, the jam turned out to be quite delicious. As in, I had to scrape up every last bit of self control to keep myself from going to town on the jam with a spoon.
Patrick, you are so welcome.
WHAT YOU NEED (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food):
2 lbs. lean bacon
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 to 3 cloves of peeled garlic, quartered
¼ cup white vinegar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup brewed coffee
1 teaspoon cinnamon
WHAT TO DO:
Martha called for a slow cooker. I don’t have one of those, so I improvised. I also didn’t have cider vinegar, which I’m sure would have been great, but I improvised and changed quantities, and added some cinnamon.
First, slice the bacon into one-inch strips. Yes, all of the raw bacon. Usually, I’m slightly perturbed by the texture of raw meat. I might just be scarred from man-handling raw chicken livers. But the bacon was harmless, and somewhat satisfying. Bacon fat is not nearly as gooey as other types of meat – perhaps because of the curing process.
Anyway, slice up the bacon, and fry it in a large skillet until browned. Remove from heat, and let the bacon pieces cool down on a few paper towels. There’s no need for unnecessary grease when you’re going to be simmering bacon in a vat of syrup.
In a medium-sized saucepan, take 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, and combine with the diced onions and the garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Then, combine the vinegar, sugar, syrup, coffee, and cinnamon. Heat on high until the sugar dissolves, and the solution boils. Add the bacon pieces into the pot. Stir, cover, and simmer on very low heat for 3 to four hours, until the mixture is syrupy. Then, remove from heat, let cool, and pulse grind in a food processor. Taste, then jar, then ship to California.