Condiment/Spread

Your New Favorite Way to Eat Bacon

April 14, 2015

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Meet bacon jam, the black horse of the meat aisle and your new favorite condiment.

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The story I want to tell is one of years of stoic veganism that met its demise to one beautiful batch of bacon jam—but that wouldn't be the entire truth. I never really ate animal products; I avoided them growing up and completely cut them out of my diet when I went to college. Then, on a fateful trip to Chicago, I broke my veganism with a deep-dish pizza. But it was bacon jam—the store-bought kind—that inspired me to head to the meat aisle to voluntarily cook up a batch of this irresistable condiment.

Buying store-bought bacon jam can become an expensive habit—it is the kind of food that gave Whole Foods its paycheck-related nickname. Making it, on the other hand, is easy and affordable. Once you start cooking up your monthly batch, as I'm sure you will, it will only be a matter of time before this underrated condiment finds a permanent place on your dinner table.

Bacon jam can be used to add depth to just about any food: Spread a little on your breakfast sandwich, add it to order-in pizza when you don't want to splurge on extra toppings, or eat it by the spoonful. Want to add a smoky-sweet bite to your soup? Bacon jam! Want to bake next-level beer bread? Bacon jam! Think your mac n' cheese needs an upgrade? Add some salt... just kidding: Add some bacon jam!

More: Cooking perfect bacon is still an important life skill

Bacon jam changed me, as I'm sure it will change you. Before, I only indulged in Bac~Os, which—don't be fooled—contain no bacon (as a matter of fact, they're vegan). Now, I finally understand why people wax poetic about this cut of pork. Bacon jam made me a believer, a bacon-based poet. Now, it's time for you to join me on the bacon train:

Homemade Bacon Jam

Makes 1 1/2 cups

10 ounces bacon, maple-smoked and nitrate-free
heaping cup chopped onions (about 2 small onions)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
cloves garlic, pressed
tablespoons maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup milk stout or malt beverage

Note: If using malt beverage, use only 1 tablespoon of brown sugar; if using milk stout, use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Making bacon jam is better if you measure all of your ingredients before cooking for two reasons: Once you get cooking, it all happens pretty quickly and, more importantly, once you have measured out your 3/4 cup of milk stout or malt beverage, you can drink the rest as you cook. For your mise en place, everything should go into its own little bowl. If you don’t have eight little bowls, the vinegar and beer can go together, as can the maple syrup and brown sugar.

Start by chopping your bacon into 1/2-inch strips so that the pieces cook quickly and evenly. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and add your sliced bacon. Move the bacon around with a wooden spoon, making sure it cooks evenly and does not stick. Let it get crispy if you like texture in your jam, which I highly recommend.

Once your bacon is cooked, remove it from the heat and place it on the paper towel-lined plate. Transfer the excess bacon fat to a disposable container to either throw away or reserve for another dish, leaving a thin coating along the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon) for cooking your onions. Dump your onions into the pan and cook them until they're translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Now it is time to add the paprika and garlic to the onions. First, turn the heat down to low. 

  

Stir a few times to evenly distribute the garlic, then add the maple syrup. If using malt beverage, use only 1 tablespoon of brown sugar; if using milk stout, use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Cook until the brown sugar has dissolved and the liquid has thickened slightly: When you pull a spoon along the bottom of the pan, the liquid should slowly move back into place.

  

Add the vinegar and beer to the pan, turn the heat back up to medium-high, and bring your mixture to a boil.

As soon as it has reached a boil, reduce the heat, add the bacon back into the pan, and let it cook at a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced.

  

After 15 minutes, test your jam by running your spoon along the bottom of the pan: It should should leave a trail, indicating that the liquid has thickened (as shown in the photos directly below).

  

Turn off the heat and let the jam sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then pour the bacon jam into a blender or food processor.

Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes, until the desired consistency is reached. I prefer the consistency of chutney over that of jelly, but this is your bacon jam so pulse it to your heart's content.

Refrigerate the jam for about an hour before eating so it solidifies a bit. But don’t worry if you can’t wait—it also tastes greats warm. 

Store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 month.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Bobbi Lin

10 Comments

Kelly A. October 3, 2015
I better way to cook the bacon is to use the new bacon cooking device. The Bacon Pro is changing the way people cook bacon. It cooks 1-20 or more slices at once. It's clean and easy. Then use the grease that's left over. The Bacon Pro is amazing!!
 
bgavin September 12, 2015
I wonder if I could skip the food processor step all together. Thinking marmalade more than jam. <br />Maybe I will try processing half and adding it into the unprocessed remainder.
 
monica April 17, 2015
So, I can't eat onions, but garlic is OK (I know, weird). Do you think upping the garlic to, say, 8 cloves and increasing the stout to a full cup (to make up for liquid) would work?
 
Author Comment
Hannah P. April 17, 2015
It will certainly be more garlicky (but there is nothing wrong with that). However, I am not sure if adding more stout is the answer, as the onions do not add that much liquid. If it seems thick while blending you can always add a splash of liquid at the end of cooking.
 
monica April 17, 2015
thank you!<br />I'll update with how it goes. :)
 
monica April 26, 2015
It turned out pretty great! My edits: omitted the onion (I can't eat them), I subbed in an equal amount of peeled, diced Granny Smith apple. I also used 8 cloves of garlic, and subbed 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon dried ground chipotle pepper for the 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Yum!
 
AntoniaJames April 15, 2015
Whole Paycheck? Out here it's "Whole 401(k)." <br />That jam does look amazing. I've never made, or even eaten, the stuff, but I'm inspired now to try it. Cheers. ;o)
 
نعيمة ن. April 15, 2015
I am gluten-free, what would you substitute the malt beverage with?
 
Author Comment
Hannah P. April 15, 2015
I would suggest using Gluten-free beer (like Omission) or dry cider. If you use cider you might have to play with the sugar content, try reducing the brown sugar to 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. This is because cider tends to be much sweeter than beer. Let me know how it works out.
 
kasia S. April 14, 2015
So lush, even vanilla ice cream cant run from this haha.