“Do you want to know how good bacon is? To improve other food, they wrap it in bacon.”
– Jim Gaffigan
Do you remember the first time you had your favorite food? Was it pizza? How about ice cream or chocolate? Me, personally, I can’t remember the first time I had bacon — and it’s a shame.
Here in the Sanders household, we usually have bacon on Sundays with a waffle. The smell fills the house all day and welcomes you if you come back home that night. But that was pretty much the extent of our bacon experiences during the week.
I don’t order it when we are out getting breakfast because it’s usually just this sad thin bendy thing that might have been called bacon in Communist Russia. I spend a few extra dollars and get thick cut brown sugar deli cut bacon. It caramelizes as it cooks and might just be the closest you can get to heaven without actually pulling a “Flatliners.” On occasion, I will also get some on a burger, but it is usually the same sad story of floppy wannabe bacon.
That is, until I had a burger with something I had never heard of before, something Julia Child must have sent from above as a gift to mankind. Something my chef friends knew of but never told me, like it was some secret chef only brotherhood item they sat around on the weekends eating laughing at us regular folk.
I’m talking about bacon jam, and it is by far the best jam there is.
Whoever came up with the idea of having a regular, on-demand spread of bacon deserves a presidential medal of freedom. It embodies everything for which America stands, and you too can make it.
All it takes is some fine chopping skills and stirring dedication. On a difficulty scale, it’s near the bottom, and that’s what makes it glorious. Spend 45 minutes one day half paying attention while you sip coffee and read the newspaper, and the next thing you know you have a week or more supply of bacon jam.
While I tweaked this recipe from allrecipes.com a bit, I assure you the four large yellow onions are correct and nothing to shed a tear over; they reduce down quite a bit and you will be glad you added all of them. If you want more of a bacon-rich jam, take an onion out and only use three.
The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for it to reduce down and not just dive into it. The key is waiting for almost all the moisture to leave until it has a jam-like consistency.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
1 1/2 pounds bacon, chopped
2 teaspoons butter
4 large yellow onions, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place bacon in a cast iron pan and cook over medium heat until bacon is crispy and the rendered fat is foaming, about 15 minutes. Pour bacon and rendered fat into a strainer placed over a bowl to drain fat. When fat is drained and bacon is cool enough to handle, remove bacon to a cutting board and finely chop.
2. At the same time the bacon is cooking, ladle 2 teaspoons bacon fat from the cooking bacon and butter in a medium pot. Saute onions and 1 teaspoon salt until soft and translucent, 15-20 minutes.
3. Stir brown sugar, sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, black pepper and cayenne into onion mixture; add the chopped bacon. Stir water into bacon mixture and cook until jam is a brick-brown bacon color and has a jam consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir balsamic vinegar, olive oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme into jam; stir until shiny and heated through.