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Friday, April 6, 2012

Recipe: Bacon Bourbon Jam

Despite its prevalence, I am still of the theory that bacon makes anything taste better. Just thinking about that smoky meatiness is enough to get my mouth watering. I'm also of the mindset that the right condiment can elevate an ordinary meal to something memorable. Bacon bourbon jam is both those things, with a little booze for added decadence.

The recipe comes from Create A Cook, a cooking school for kids and adults in Newton, MA. They offer several different Date Night classes, where chefs teach you and a date (or buddy) how to make a delicious multi-course menu and then you bring all the tasty stuff home to enjoy. When I was reading the menu for the recently launched Burger Bistro class, this recipe called to me and I knew I had to make it and share.

Besides bacon & bourbon, the flavor comes from the cornucopia of spices. If you keep an overflowing cabinet like I do (and found a bottle of bourbon in your liquor cabinet like I did), this recipe costs next to nothing, so you can spend a bit on some good-quality bacon. Because this recipe is all about the bacon. Lame bacon will result in sad, tasteless jam.

I'll be whipping up another batch for the next time I make roasted hamburgers, but it doesn't just have to be for beef. Swapper Laura topped turkey burgers with it, and it would make a great substitute on a club sandwich. It would be pretty delicious on a pizza, too.

Create A Cook Bacon Bourbon Jam
about 2 cups

  • 3/4 lb smoked thick cut bacon
  • 1 yellow onion (approx. 1/2 lb in weight)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4t allspice
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground clove
  • 4T brown sugar (dark preferred)
  • 1/2t chipotle powder
  • 1/4t paprika
  • 1/8t baking soda
  • 3T cider vinegar*
  • 4T bourbon
  • 5T prepared espresso or strong coffee
  • 2T maple syrup
Place the bacon on a rack on a sheet pan and roast at 350F in the oven until rendered and soft with the edges JUST beginning to crisp up. Do not cook the bacon to crisp. Cool and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

Place the onion, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, sugar, chipotle, paprika and baking soda in the food processor and pulse until fine.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the cider vinegar, the espresso and the bourbon.

Take 1 T of the bacon fat from the rendered bacon and place in a saut̩ pan. Scrape in all of the pureed ingredients from the food processor and place over medium heat. Now, you can walk away but be vigilant and check it every 5 minutes or so for a stir. Keep the ingredients spread out in the pan for maximum contact with the heat. If it begins to get too dry add 1 or 2 T of water. Stir again and spread it out in the pan. Continue cooking and stirring adding the water when needed for 20 Р25 minutes. The smell will change from strong onion and garlic to a mellower sweet smell as the sugars begin to caramelize.

Add the bacon and the vinegar/espresso/bourbon mixture to the pan and scrape up the stuck particles. Add the maple syrup.

Turn the heat down and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed to stop it from sticking, for another 20-25 minutes until the mixture is thick and the bacon is softer.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then place in the mixture in the food processor. PULSE once or twice.

Taste for seasoning. Depending on how salty your bacon is you may want a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness. Pulse once more to mix in the salt. Scrape into a jar. Keeps for 1 week – 10 days in the fridge.

*If you like a sharper condiment you can add a bit more cider vinegar towards the end of the cooking time tasting as you go.

Full disclosure: Although I work for Create A Cook, they did not ask me to make this recipe, swap it, or write about it, nor did they compensate me for it. Opinions are my own.

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