Bacon. Jam. Bacon jam. At last. Tim was all “How are you going to explain it? What do you even do with it?” but I think it’s pretty obvious. (For one: hide in your room and eat it all with a spatula.)
Think of Bacon Jam as a variation on caramelised onions, or chutney – to be stirred into soups or casseroles, or meat sauce made from minced beef. To be spread on bread or crackers. Added to meatballs or meatloaf, inside or on top of a burger patty. Folded through cooked pasta, chopped fried mushrooms, or mustard-sauced, sauteed cabbage, or cooked, quartered waxy potatoes. Mixed with chilli sauce and used to top rice and broccoli. Added to the steak part of a pie’s filling or blanketed with melting cheese in a toasted sandwich or showcased inside a baked potato, freshly busted open and filled with sour cream.
I also have this feeling that it’d be good on top of real vanilla ice cream. McDonalds was basically my babysitter for a large part of my life (well, it was across the road from where I had dancing lessons, and for about a dollar I could get food and read Tearaway and be in a fairly safe place till someone came to pick me up and take me home again) and it was there that I learned to dip my french fries into the 50c ice cream cone, and the strange deliciousness that the combination of salty and sweet produced. If potato chips and pretty nasty ice cream can taste okay, I bet sticky, toffeed bacon on top of ice cream would work. In fact, I’m not even going to google it because it has probably already happened somewhere (I know you can get candied bacon cupcakes, so ice cream isn’t that much of a stretch.)
We don’t eat a lot of meat so it felt kind of outrageous chopping up 400g of the bacon, but as I’ve demonstrated above, there are so many uses for this stuff that it’s practically…practical.
Tim and I buy free-range pork, but I have no way of knowing what’s accessible to you, so use what you’re able to. Given that bacon is the focus of this, I did appreciate the particularly good taste of the Freedom Farm stuff that we used, and also that it didn’t leak any watery liquid during the cooking process.
Many thanks to The Family Kitchen, from whom I adapted this recipe.
- 400g bacon (I think streaky or middle is probably best for this)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup coffee (instant is fine, but make it strong)
- 1/4 cup golden syrup
Roughly chop the bacon up, and cook in a large pan. At first it’ll just stew, because of the quantity of bacon, but eventually it’ll start to crisp up a bit.
Depending on your bacon, some liquid may have emerged at this point – drain off as much as possible, also drain away as much fat as possible, then transfer the bacon to another bowl for a minute.
Gently fry the onions and garlic in that same pan – no need to wash it, and be careful not to let them brown – then add the rest of the ingredients, and return the bacon to the pan, and let cook for around half an hour over a low heat till the liquid has significantly thickened and looks a bit syrupy. I partially covered it during this time, giving it the occasional stir. Remove from the heat, and transfer to an airtight container or jar, and keep in the fridge for a week or two. Makes about 1 1/2 cups full.
- Instead of golden syrup, you can use maple syrup or honey.
- Instead of coffee, you can use cola or beer, but so bitterly nutty and dark and rich is coffee against the salty, supersweet flavours at play here, that without having tried any other variants it’s still what I’d urge you to use.
- Use muscovado sugar if you can get hold of it. It’s so severely intense in flavour compared to regular brown sugar, it kind of goes with everything happening here.
So, despite the relatively unusual combinations happening here (unusual depending on how many blogs about candied bacon cupcakes you’ve read, that is) it works and gloriously so. Even while cooking it, the sizzling combination of coffee, dark sugary matter and bacon fat tasted impossibly delicious. Seriously: coffee with all meats from now on, please.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a pretty jar to put it in, so an old takeout container had to do.
It felt like I hadn’t cooked anything in ages, so today (Sunday) turned into a bit of a frenzied kitchen session. As well as the bacon jam, I also had a go at making homemade Daim bars, as per my promise on Facebook (yeh, I started a Facebook page for this blog in the end, you’re welcome to join or not to join, I won’t narrow my eyes at you if you don’t.) They didn’t quiiite work out. I also made another batch of Nigella’s coconut macaroons, which I’m becoming very attached to, and which will also be featured in my next blog post. Tonight for dinner I’m making a variation on an Ottolenghi recipe, a kind of roasted cauliflower omelet. Unfortunately I blackened the cauliflower florets, but who knew that they still tasted okay, if not great, when burnt? Me, now.
Edited to add: Such was the extent to which my homemade Daim bars weren’t quite successful -Tim was reading through this and then turned to me and said “What homemade Daim bars?” and I pointed to where they were situated on the table behind him. And then he said “ohhh thooooose” in a regretful kind of way.
Title via: The Laziest Gal In Town (so appropriate to me) choose whether you prefer Marlene Deitrich’s or Nina Simone’s version, for I sure can’t. Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski also has a very cool version on her album of the same name, but you can’t find it on Youtube.
Turtle Pizza Cadillacby Parallel Dance Ensemble. One portion of PDE, the spectacular Coco Solid, performed at San Francisco Bath House last night. Tim and I went along, had a very awesome time cutting a caper on the dancefloor and rapping along where we knew the words. We also ran into some nice people from Twitter! As in…someone that I follow, not like Biz Stone.
Next time: the aforementioned coconut macaroons. Right now: Obligatory “OMG it’s July” statement. Where is 2011 going, and why in such a hurry?