Friends, remember back in January when I resolved to make a batch of red currant jam and bake bread from scratch for the ultimate piece of toast? Well, I waited patiently until July for red currants to arrive at the farmers market and I made the jam and guess what? Turns out I don’t like red currant jam. Tasted a lot like cranberry sauce to me, which I also don’t like. A bit crestfallen, I tuned my attention to stone fruit and made this Peach Rosé Jam. It was fine, but my batch turned out more like a wine and peach flavored applesauce, which was terrific, but not the jam I was looking for.
I had quite literally found myself in a jam. Frustrated, I tabled the project.
Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me, why limit myself to ‘jam’ in the conventional sense? This was just an arbitrary marmalade-driven goal I had set for myself.
I make the jam rules.
The whole concept stemmed from a story I read last year in response to an original article surrounding a $4 piece of toast from a bakery in San Francisco. Bread and jelly? $4? Unreasonable? Not so fast. See, I really like toast and knowing myself, it seemed as if I would probably spend $4 on a piece, if the circumstances were right. I wanted to see if I could make a piece of toast that felt worthy of $4. And tartines, crostinis, and bruschettas don’t count. Anyone can charge $4 for an open-faced sandwich.
Enter Bacon Jam. I first heard about this eccentric condiment about five years ago – I had read about it on a blog and then our friends Ed and Kristen visited the Pacific North West and brought some home from a popular Seattle food truck. It was delicious and we slathered it over burgers and chicken sausages all Summer.
So, back to the assignment at hand. I baked a fresh loaf of bread using my favorite no-knead recipe. As soon as I put the dough in the oven I began working on the bacon jam. The end result far exceeded my expectations. After I toasted and ligtly buttered the bread, schmeared it with the sweet and salty bacon jam and (spontaneously) finished with a tiny drizzle of tart blood orange juice, I took a bite — and it was so good, my immediate reaction was laughter. Good food makes me happy, but rarely does it elicit audible giddiness. Honestly, I knew right away – I would easily pay $4 for a piece of it.
This bacon jam would be delicious atop waffles, brie, Deviled Eggs or try adding a thin layer to your next grilled cheese.
1/2 lb bacon, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp coffee
1 tbsp borbon (if you don’t have bourbon or would rather not use it, use 2 tbsp coffee)
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Pinch of dry mustard
Pinch of smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper, to taste
In a medium sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy and lightly browned. Transfer the bacon to a papertowel lined plate.
Pour off all but 1 tbsp bacon drippings.
Add onions and saute until almost translucent. Add garlic and thyme and cook one minute longer. Add vinegar, coffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon and bring to boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits.
Return the bacon to the pan and simmer on low heat until liquid is syrupy and thick, about 20 minutes.
Remove sprigs of thyme, transfer to a food processor and pulse until a relish consistency develops. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.