“Bacon jam tastes like the love child of pulled pork and pate!” said one friend. “I am now officially in pig heaven,” said another as I shared tastes from the jar of Skillet’s bacon jam that had just arrived in the mail.
Bacon jam? Yes, indeed—it is good stuff. And so good, in fact, that I decided to figure out a way of making my own bacon jam at home so I wouldn’t have to rely on someone else for this smoky, pork-rich treat.
Over the past few months, it seems that you can’t escape the topic of bacon jam. Skillet’s rendition has certainly excited people, but at heart bacon jam is simply a potted meat, something that has been gracing battlefields, picnics, high teas and nursery suppers for hundreds of years.
For most, the term potted meat conjures up images of mystery meat in a can, but traditionally potted meat was made at home from meat scraps, herbs, spices and maybe an acid or a spirit, such as vinegar or brandy. Making potted meat was a preservation method, meant to extend the meat’s life just a few more weeks. Nothing mysterious or scary about its contents at all! Matter of fact, when made from quality ingredients, potted meat is as satisfying as pate, though it’s far easier to make. And like pate, potted meat can be either elegant and smooth or rustic with chunks.
As for my homemade bacon jam, I knew that it should have the smoky fire that comes from chipotles, the warming depth that comes from chocolate and allspice, a hint of sweetness, but also the bitterness that comes from coffee and the tang that comes from apple-cider vinegar.
I chose to use thick slices of center-cut bacon because I wanted to cook my meat for a long time and didn’t want it to completely disintegrate. And finally, I also added plenty of black pepper for heat and ancho chile powder both for its color and its fruity, nutty flavor.
Unfortunately, the first batch spent too much time in the food processor and ended up with a consistency that was a bit too creamy on the tongue; you definitely want some texture in your bacon jam to remind you of the spread’s source. But subsequent batches were just the right balance between being smooth and rough, much like your favorite homemade fruit jams where chunks of fruit are nestled in a thick syrup suspension.
Bacon jam is excellent on slices of tomatoes, plopped on a warm biscuit, stirred into a bowl of beans or spread on top of a cheeseburger. Or you can just grab a spoon and dig into your jar.
But best of all, it’s superb for sharing. You’ll soon see—nothing makes a friend’s face light up more then when you pass them a jar and say, “Here, have a taste. It’s bacon jam!”
1 pound uncooked bacon
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 sliver onion
1 to 4 chipotles en adobo (depending on the level of heat you can tolerate)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the can)
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground Mexican hot chocolate
1 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Black pepper to taste
Cook the bacon until fat is rendered, but not too crisp. Cut cooked bacon into two-inch sized pieces.
On medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in one tablespoon of rendered bacon fat in a medium-sized pot for two minutes. Add the cooked bacon, spices, apple-cider vinegar and coffee. Simmer on low for two hours, stirring occasionally. If jam starts to get dry, add water, 1/4 cup at a time.
After 2 hours, place bacon jam into a food processor, and puree for two or three seconds, tops. You just want to bring it together but still have some chunks. Store refrigerated for 1 week.
Yield: About 1 pint.