Game day in November means two things: football and food.
When it comes to football, any college or pro game will do. When it comes to food, a casual menu easily satisfies my husband or a roomful of football fans. On my laziest weekends, grilled hot dogs served on lightly toasted buns make a perfect meal. Each person has a favorite condiment mix, from mustard only to piled high with all the fixings.
This year, I added bacon jam to the fixings.
Yes, you read correctly. Bacon jam – a sweet and tangy preserve made from smoked bacon, onions, garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and brewed coffee.
After sampling a ready-made version, I knew this trendy condiment had great potential in the kitchen. Bacon jam bruschetta. Bacon jam focaccia. Bacon jam smeared on hot dogs, burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches. And, most decadent of all, bacon jam by the spoonful, straight from the jar.
My search for a “classic” bacon jam recipe yielded scores of tempting versions. After studying a dozen or two, I came up with the following recipe. The recipe easily adapts to taste preferences. For example, omit the jalapenos and red pepper flakes for a milder jam or reduce the brown sugar for a more savory preserve. I make the jam in a Le Creuset 3.5-quart round French oven, but you can also use a heavy 3-quart saucepan.
Expect to invest about 2-1/2 hours in this endeavor.
The mixture needs your watchful eye and an occasional stir as it simmers and reduces, changing from a soupy concoction …
… into bacon jam.
Making bacon jam is worth every minute – I promise. Enjoy!
Your turn: Although I think bacon jam is an unusual hotdog fixing, I know there are others. What are the most exotic toppings you’ve eaten on a hotdog?
Bacon Jam from CHEFS Mix
Yield: 1-1/2 to 2 cups
1 pound smoked bacon, pre-sliced
1 large onion
1 jalapeno pepper or to taste (optional)
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup brewed coffee
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup bourbon
¼ cup water
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes or to taste (optional)
1. Preheat heavyweight saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat. The pot’s capacity should be around 3-quarts.
2. Prep work:
» Cut bacon into 1-inch strips
» Cut onion in half. Cut each half into ¼-inch slices
» Dice jalapeno pepper (for less heat, remove ribs and seeds)
» Chop garlic cloves
3. Add bacon to pot. Fry until fat renders and bacon is lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towels and let drain. Pour off all but one tablespoon of bacon fat.
4. Add sliced onions and jalapeno peppers to pot. Saute on medium heat until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
5. To onion, jalapeno and garlic mixture, add dark brown sugar, brewed coffee, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, bourbon, water, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine and deglaze pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add bacon and stir to combine. Mixture will be soupy. Reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until liquid becomes thick and syrupy.
6. Remove pan from stove. Cool for about 30 minutes.
7. Spoon mixture into food processor bowl. Pulse 3 times in 1-second pulses. Taste the jam. If it’s too chunky, pulse 1 to 2 more times. Do not over-process. The jam should have chewy bits of bacon throughout.
8. Spoon bacon jam into glass jars with tight lids. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
UPDATE #1: To print our Bacon Jam recipe, click here. Scroll down to the end of the recipe for printing instructions.
UPDATE #2: Patty O. from La Mesa, CA asked via email if she could double our Bacon Jam recipe. The answer is yes. If you double the recipe, you may need a larger Dutch oven to ensure the mixture reduces nicely. Taste the jam during cooking and adjust seasonings and flavors as needed. Also, to avoid making a bacon jam that’s too greasy, begin cooking the onions in 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Add a little more bacon fat, maybe a teaspoon or two, if the onions become too dry during cooking.