Wanting to get my crock pot back in action, but unsure what to make, I was browsing a round up of crock pot recipes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I was mostly trying to decide if I would rather make a hearty beef braise, spicy chicken chili, or some sort of vegetarian soup. But when the words "Bacon Jam" appeared in front of me I decided I had no choice. I wasn't even sure if the idea appealed to me; but I had to try it. I love fruit jams (my current favorite is apricot) and am a fan of sweet and savory chutneys, but what exactly would bacon jam be like? What would you eat it with? The recipe suggested it on bread, which seems a little obvious but boring. I decided not only would I make this odd sounding jam, I would also experiment with a few different uses for it.
And as if it were meant to be, every single ingredient is one I have sitting on hand at home in my pantry (well, the bacon is the fridge...) How could I not give this a try?
Slow Cooker Bacon Jam
(adapted for quantity) from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food December 2010
active cooking time: 30 minutes
slow cooker time: 3 hours
total time: 3 1/2 hours
Special equipment needed- slow cooker, immersion blender/food processor/or blender
1 package of bacon - 12oz
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1.Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook on the stove top for approximately 20 minutes, until fat has rendered, and bacon is beginning to get crisp.
2. While the bacon cooks, dice your onion, and peel and smash the 2 cloves of garlic. I also measured out the other ingredients into my measuring cup at this stage.
3. Remove the bacon from the pan (place in slow cooker crock), and pour off (discard or save for later use) all but about a tablespoon of fat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes.
4. Add liquid ingredients and brown sugar to the onions. Stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Combine onions/liquid mixture and bacon in the slow cooker crock. set on high for up the 3 hours, uncovered.
6. When ingredients are done cooking, blend with immersion blender to combine everything into a thick jam like consistency. Kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this can be stored for up to 4 weeks.
But, what does one do with Bacon Jam?
Ok, and now on to the fun part. So, you have some bacon jam, huh? And while you couldn't really resist making it just to say you did, you now have to figure out what you are going to put it on. I thought I would share with you a few ways that I made use of my jar!
Start simply, spread some on a cracker, chip, or piece of bread. I suggest bagel chips, yum. Pair with red wine and good cheese and feel sophisticated.
Up the ante by toasting the above mentioned piece of bread with a light drizzle of olive oil, and you have a bacon crostini.
Make a killer breakfast sandwich at home with a fried egg, toasted english muffin, and a spread of bacon jam. I made mine with a whole wheat english muffin, a few pieces of spinach, and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.
|the runny yoke makes it.|
Stir half a tablespoon of bacon jam into a serving of penne with olive oil, garlic, and spinach for a quick but surprisingly decadent-tasting pasta dish. Finish off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you want to be fancy.
Use bacon jam as a condiment on a burger, baked potato, or steak. When I first tasted my finished jam, my first thought was "I want this on steak!" why is meat topped with more meat so appealing to me? Hmmm...guess I'd never succeed as a vegetarian...
A few recipe notes and tangents:
-The only changes I made were to adjust quantities to match with a standard sized package of bacon (mine was 12oz, the original recipe called for 1.5 pounds of bacon, or 20oz.) I did some estimating, so the ratios may not have been exact, but the balance of flavors turned out wonderfully
-FYI- if you don't have a slow cooker (though really, why don't you?) this could be made in a dutch oven just as easily. The advantage of a slow cooker being that you can easily leave the house while this cooks away! I had a driving lesson and got a nice big breakfast at a diner with a friend while this cooked. Yes, I am learning to drive. Yeah, I'm kind of late on that, huh? Wish me luck, learning to drive after waiting so long is terrifying!
-Also, if you don't have a blender/food processor/immersion blender, I suppose that you could get by just fine by slicing the bacon, onion and garlic a little smaller from the beginning, and just having a chunkier mix. It would still taste delicious.
I guess I usually assume that most people who like to cook would automatically have a pretty well stocked artillery of kitchen devices, but given how tiny some kitchens around here are, I figured I had to make it clear that I don't discriminate against those with no storage for such appliances. Not everyone (especially other city-dwellers) is as lucky as me with my spacious sunlit pantry!
So, friends, have you ever tried bacon jam? Any additional suggestions for use? Do you find the idea of meat topped with more meat appealing? Do you stock your kitchen with all of the basic appliances, or get by with a chef's knife and elbow grease? If you do have all of the usual appliances, can you imagine paring down and living without?