“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.
There’s 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 sweetness that comes from allspice, the depth that comes from coffee, and the lively 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!”
Chipotle bacon jam
- 1 pound uncooked bacon
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 chipotle chiles en adobo, diced
- 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, from the can
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder or chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Mexican chocolate or cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
Line a plate with paper towels. On medium heat, cook the bacon, turning once, in a large skillet until the fat is rendered, but not too crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spatula and place on the plate. When cool enough to handle, cut the cooked bacon into 2-inch sized pieces.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet, reserving the rest for another use. Add the onion to the skillet and on medium heat, while stirring occasinally, cook for 5 minutes or until fragrant and softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add to the skillet the cooked bacon, chipotle chiles, adobo, chili powder, chocolate, allspice, coffee, and apple-cider vinegar. Simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If it starts to get too dry, stir in a bit of water.
After 2 hours, place the bacon jam into a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Taste and adjust seasoings, adding salt to taste. Store refrigerated for 1 week.