Southern Gold: Bacon Jam
As a Southerner, I know I’m supposed to pledge a certain allegiance to bacon, but I have to admit the “bacon-makes-everything-better” trend had me rolling my eyes after the first month or so. (And that was five years ago!) Then I made this sweet and savory bacon jam, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t want to slather it on everything from breakfast sandwiches to cupcakes. Yep, I turned into “that” girl.
You might have heard of bacon jam from Top Chef winner Kevin Gillespie, who helped put high-end Southern fare on the culinary map. Or perhaps you heard of bacon jam from the now-famous Skillet Street Food, a food truck turned restaurant chain based out of Seattle. Skillet’s version of braised porky goodness has a major cult following and is now sold on grocery shelves coast to coast. No matter how (or where) you look at it, pig is still in.
If you haven’t already discovered bacon jam for yourself, here’s your chance. Every single bite is full of rich, savory, oh-so-sweet goodness. There are a lot of variations floating around the internet, including ones using coffee, brown sugar, garlic, bourbon, and peppers. My recipe actually gets its inspiration from a recipe you may already be familiar with.
A while back I revealed my love for glazed bacon; the combination of sugar, tangy Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce was addictive. I used those same ingredients here, adding balsamic vinegar, onions, and shallots to the mix. My jam came together fairly quickly and is relatively hands off. Once you fry the bacon and sauté the onions, everything else gets thrown in the pot and simmered until all of the ingredients cook down. (Warning: it will take everything in your power not to jump right on in.)
There are a million ways to serve bacon jam, and half the fun is seeing how crazy you can get. My personal fave (besides eating it straight from a spoon) is to build the ultimate breakfast sandwich. Try it — toasted challah, cheddar, oven roasted tomatoes, field greens, a fried egg, and a heap of bacon jam — and don’t tell me it isn’t the best breakfast sandwich you’ve ever had.
Seriously though, the possibilities are endless. Spread it in between a grilled cheese, slap it on a burger, or drip it over hot biscuits. And hey, don’t be afraid to ice it on a cupcake. Just sayin’.
Sweet & Savory Bacon Jam
Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups (can be doubled or tripled)
1 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 small sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large shallot (2 cloves), peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Keep all the bacon fat in the pan; do not discard (see Recipe Notes).
Lower the heat to medium. Stir in the onions and shallots, and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup, vinegar, Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally if necessary. Cook until the the jam has a glossy appearance and syrup-like consistency, about 1 hour.
Allow the mixture to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and pulse a few times to puree the larger pieces, stopping every pulse or two to stir and check the consistency — it should be thick and chunky, not a paste.
Transfer to an airtight container. Bacon jam can be refrigerated for up to one month. Serve at room temperature.
• Some recipes call for discarding some of the bacon fat before adding the onions. I kept all of the fat but it is personal preference. Hey, if you are going to make bacon jam you might as well go all in!
*This recipe was originally written for The Kitchn by Nealey Dozier