No, you haven't died and gone to heaven; this week's column really is about bacon jam. We're all aware of trends that are here for the long haul and ones that have long faded away (bell-bottoms, flip phones, Milli Vanilli ... you get the point). In the food world, you would think bacon would have run its course in popular culture, but consumers say otherwise. I think bacon, no matter how you slice it, is here to stay.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with chef Blackwell Smith of Blacksmith's. Wondering what we spoke about? Yes, you guessed it, bacon jam. Smith gave me a bit of insight and pointers on how to make my own bacon jam, and he even sent me home with a large amount of bacon for my own bacon jam adventures.
Although Blacksmith's serves their bacon jam on steak, I've seen other variations that have included breakfast foods. I asked Smith for his take on serving it on a biscuit or something breakfast-related, and he responded, "Why not?" Spoken like a chef after my own heart. As I prepare for Chattanooga's first Burger Battle this weekend, I thought the best way to get ready for such an event would be to start my week off with burgers and a little homemade bacon jam. By the way, the Chattanooga Burger Battle isn't just an opportunity to eat burgers, but it's also a fundraiser for the Forgotten Child Fund—a nonprofit organization created by Chattanooga fire and police officers with a mission that ensures children in Chattanooga and the surrounding areas never have to go without a Christmas. Let's eat burgers and raise some funds!
Now, the other good stuff: The jam.
To make this delicious and addictive goodness, you'll need just a few ingredients.
—Garlic cloves (which you can't really see in the photo above, but the garlic's there)
—Pure maple syrup
—Black pepper (not pictured)
—Jalapeño (totally optional—I only used a little bit)
First, chop some bacon. Smith graciously gifted me a package of Benton's bacon, which is what he uses. He made it very clear that it's all about the bacon.
Cook the bacon until it's nice and crisp. Once it's done, place it on a plate or bowl with a paper towel; let the paper towel soak up all the grease.
Look at all of this bacon fat. I was advised to keep it to use for something else; I haven't quite decided what to use it for.
While the bacon is hanging out on a plate, sauté onions, smashed garlic cloves and chopped jalapeños, if using, in some of the bacon fat (about 2 tablespoons).
Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. While the onions are creating their own little magic, blend the remaining ingredients (everything except for the bacon). When the onions are soft and gooey, pour the liquid mixture into the pot with the onions. Oh my, it smells so good.
Bring the liquid to a boil and add the bacon. Simmer, uncovered, until the mixture begins to reduce and thicken a bit. I simmered mine for about an hour. After it was the consistency I was hoping for, I added it to my blender and pulsed it just a few times. It's really important to make sure it's a consistency that you can spread on bread or your burgers.
I put my jam in a jar because everything is better in a jar.
I couldn't wait to taste it, and you'll probably feel the same way if you decide to try this recipe.
Later, at a more appropriate time and once the jam had a chance to cool, I tried it on a burger. Words cannot express the joy I felt.
The original recipe came from Tasty Kitchen, and I didn't change it at all—well, except for that little jalapeño thing.
Additional notes: This is delicious. Also, if you're going to use a jalapeño, I would suggest using half of one and seeding it. I barely used half of a half because I was getting evil looks from the boyfriend, who isn't such a big fan of spicy like I am. You'll thank me later.
Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following her on Twitter or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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