Nobody quite believes me the first time they hear I'm making bacon jam. They're intrigued, or bemused ("Bacon...jam?") or squicked out, or covetous, because they understand bacon's magical properties.
Then I explain: bacon jam is a savory-sweet condiment -- a little thicker than a chutney, or a marmalade, sweeter, more spreadable, and more attractively named than "potted meat", less oily than a confit. (If you are starting to suspect that I have a bit of an addiction to fancy condiments, you would be correct.)
Bacon jam, as it turns out, makes everything better. Unless you're a vegetarian, in which case you should just move along.
I don't remember where I first read about this magical substance. Chicago magazine, maybe? You can buy bacon jam online, and presumably in fancy food shops, but if you have children, this is foolish and expensive. Children -- even small children who are the pickiest of eaters and have been self-selecting vegetarians since the day solid food first crossed their little rosebud lips -- will devour astonishing quantities of the stuff. Now, bacon is not cheap, and neither is real maple syrup -- but it's still a fraction of the cost. Also, it makes your house smell amazing.
Online recipes abound. I've tried the slow cooker version, and it was delicious, but to be honest with you...I don't really like my slow cooker. (That's a post for another day.) Now I use this version with great success. Also, her pictures are nicer than mine. Bacon jam, while delicious, must be photographed with care and skill, because in the wrong light, it doesn't look super-appetizing, which is a shame. (Warning: it's a big recipe. You can halve it, if you're feeling unsure or don't have three pounds of bacon lying around.)
The nice thing about this recipe is that it's easy to adapt. Throw in some bourbon if you're inclined to make it more grownup. Want heat? Add cayenne, or some of the liquid from canned adobo chiles. Too sweet? Increase the vinegar. Too syrupy? Add coffee. Half the fun of homemade stuff is getting it exactly how you like it.
Around here, we like bacon jam on everything. Sandwiches, vegetables, pasta, straight from the jar, pizza, cheese and crackers, eggs, burgers...but the place it really shines are with leafy greens. We belong to a CSA farm, and every week we get a vast supply of leafy greens. Kale, bok choy, beet greens, chard. They are Very Healthful and Very Delicious, especially sauteed with lots of garlic. But sometimes my darling children tire of greens. The more bitter ones, in particular, can be met with resistance.
Enter bacon jam and fancy bread.
It's the world's simplest recipe:
- Take a slice of good bread -- italian or sourdough or whatever you like -- and toast it.
- Add a layer of bacon jam. (Personally, I like mine fairly thin -- you're going for a bit of sweetness to balance out the greens, not dessert. Or maybe you are. I don't judge, but I'd recommend not letting your children do this part unsupervised.)
- Add a layer of sauteed greens, preferably hot. (I like a lot of greens. And I make sure my kids' have a decent amount, to their everlasting chagrin.)
- Revel in the adoration of your family.
Boom: carbs, veg, a smidge of protein. Sweet, savory, a touch of bitter, a mingling of textures. As long as you're not glopping on the jam by the cupful, and you're generous with the greens, it's a relatively healthy dinner, and also insanely fast.
I'm pretty sure bacon jam cures all ills: Rough days, sibling fights, busy schedules, homework blues, election fatigue, general ennui. Try it and see.