3 July 2011

my poor heart is achin' to bring home the bacon



Bacon. Jam. Bacon jam. At last. Tim was all "How are you going to explain it? What do you even do with it?" but I think it's pretty obvious. (For one: hide in your room and eat it all with a spatula.)

Think of Bacon Jam as a variation on caramelised onions, or chutney - to be stirred into soups or casseroles, or meat sauce made from minced beef. To be spread on bread or crackers. Added to meatballs or meatloaf, inside or on top of a burger patty. Folded through cooked pasta, chopped fried mushrooms, or mustard-sauced, sauteed cabbage, or cooked, quartered waxy potatoes. Mixed with chilli sauce and used to top rice and broccoli. Added to the steak part of a pie's filling or blanketed with melting cheese in a toasted sandwich or showcased inside a baked potato, freshly busted open and filled with sour cream.



I also have this feeling that it'd be good on top of real vanilla ice cream. McDonalds was basically my babysitter for a large part of my life (well, it was across the road from where I had dancing lessons, and for about a dollar I could get food and read Tearaway and be in a fairly safe place till someone came to pick me up and take me home again) and it was there that I learned to dip my french fries into the 50c ice cream cone, and the strange deliciousness that the combination of salty and sweet produced. If potato chips and pretty nasty ice cream can taste okay, I bet sticky, toffeed bacon on top of ice cream would work. In fact, I'm not even going to google it because it has probably already happened somewhere (I know you can get candied bacon cupcakes, so ice cream isn't that much of a stretch.)

We don't eat a lot of meat so it felt kind of outrageous chopping up 400g of the bacon, but as I've demonstrated above, there are so many uses for this stuff that it's practically...practical.


Tim and I buy free-range pork, but I have no way of knowing what's accessible to you, so use what you're able to. Given that bacon is the focus of this, I did appreciate the particularly good taste of the Freedom Farm stuff that we used, and also that it didn't leak any watery liquid during the cooking process.

Bacon Jam
Many thanks to The Family Kitchen, from whom I adapted this recipe. 

400g bacon (I think streaky or middle is probably best for this)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coffee (instant is fine, but make it strong)
1/4 cup golden syrup

Roughly chop the bacon up, and cook in a large pan. At first it'll just stew, because of the quantity of bacon, but eventually it'll start to crisp up a bit.
Depending on your bacon, some liquid may have emerged at this point - drain off as much as possible, also drain away as much fat as possible, then transfer the bacon to another bowl for a minute.

Gently fry the onions and garlic in that same pan - no need to wash it, and be careful not to let them brown - then add the rest of the ingredients, and return the bacon to the pan, and let cook for around half an hour over a low heat till the liquid has significantly thickened and looks a bit syrupy. I partially covered it during this time, giving it the occasional stir.

Remove from the heat, and transfer to an airtight container or jar, and keep in the fridge for a week or two. Makes about 1 1/2 cups full.


Notes:
- Instead of golden syrup, you can use maple syrup or honey.
- Instead of coffee, you can use cola or beer, but so bitterly nutty and dark and rich is coffee against the salty, supersweet flavours at play here, that without having tried any other variants it's still what I'd urge you to use.
-Use muscovado sugar if you can get hold of it. It's so severely intense in flavour compared to regular brown sugar, it kind of goes with everything happening here.


So, despite the relatively unusual combinations happening here (unusual depending on how many blogs about candied bacon cupcakes you've read, that is) it works and gloriously so. Even while cooking it, the sizzling combination of coffee, dark sugary matter and bacon fat tasted impossibly delicious. Seriously: coffee with all meats from now on, please.


Unfortunately I didn't have a pretty jar to put it in, so an old takeout container had to do.

It felt like I hadn't cooked anything in ages, so today (Sunday) turned into a bit of a frenzied kitchen session. As well as the bacon jam, I also had a go at making homemade Daim bars, as per my promise on Facebook (yeh, I started a Facebook page for this blog in the end, you're welcome to join or not to join, I won't narrow my eyes at you if you don't.) They didn't quiiite work out. I also made another batch of Nigella's coconut macaroons, which I'm becoming very attached to, and which will also be featured in my next blog post. Tonight for dinner I'm making a variation on an Ottolenghi recipe, a kind of roasted cauliflower omelet. Unfortunately I blackened the cauliflower florets, but who knew that they still tasted okay, if not great, when burnt? Me, now.

Edited to add: Such was the extent to which my homemade Daim bars weren't quite successful -Tim was reading through this and then turned to me and said "What homemade Daim bars?" and I pointed to where they were situated on the table behind him. And then he said "ohhh thooooose" in a regretful kind of way.
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Title via: The Laziest Gal In Town (so appropriate to me) choose whether you prefer Marlene Deitrich's or Nina Simone's version, for I sure can't. Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski also has a very cool version on her album of the same name, but you can't find it on Youtube.
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Music lately:

Turtle Pizza Cadillac by Parallel Dance Ensemble. One portion of PDE, the spectacular Coco Solid, performed at San Francisco Bath House last night. Tim and I went along, had a very awesome time cutting a caper on the dancefloor and rapping along where we knew the words. We also ran into some nice people from Twitter! As in...someone that I follow, not like Biz Stone.

Gil Scott-Heron, I'm New Here, from the album of the same name. I love this, it's quiet, brooding, and - I don't like the word, but what can you do - haunting.
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Next time: the aforementioned coconut macaroons. Right now: Obligatory "OMG it's July" statement. Where is 2011 going, and why in such a hurry?

17 comments:

  1. I have a meat loaf recipe that involves a topping of instant coffee and tomato sauce. No one would know unless you told them...

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  2. I love bacon and I like a bit of sweet and salty and yet... I need time to work up to this one!

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  3. I think this would go down a treat in my flat. *plots* (My sister and I both have a kind of obscene affection for caramelised onion and, well, anything + bacon = better.)

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  4. Admission: when I stopped being vegetarian my first carnivorous food was bacon ice-cream. Candied bacon + rum ice-cream. It works. And I have always loved the McD's fries + soft serve combo - even better with a bit of caramel sauce. Terrible yet wonderful!

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  5. Yep, I'm fairly certain David Lebovitz has done a candied bacon ice cream recipe :P But shhhh, I'll totally pretend you came up with the idea first!

    This really does look like caramelised onion jam, but I know my brother would like it far more. I'm also rather excited about the coconut macaroons... I feel like the old-school traditional coconut macaroons have been sorely overlooked in these macaron-crazed times!

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  6. I especially love your 'omg it's july!' But also, I made an amazing roast cauli salad on friday, so I'm interested to compare! And bacon jam, well. I'm kindof speechless; I love condiments that go with everything and I feel this is totally one of those. Excellent!

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  7. I wonder if bacon jam would work as a topping for porridge. Hmmm.
    Maybe the only way to find out is...

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  8. Wow. Bacon Jam. Now I've seen everything. I'm not sure that I could do bacon with ice cream... but it would be AMAZING on bread or crackers! Maybe with a good smoked or cheddar cheese? Or in a toastie!

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  9. What a great idea.... think it would work with duck bacon?

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  10. The salt-sweet combination is a time-honoured pairing, especially within American southern cuisine. The most obvious examples are fried chicken & waffles, or french toast; your jam is a member of that family. If they were people, french toast would be the rugby jersey-wearing, gets-a-bit-shouty-when-drunk guy, while bacon jam would be the nouveau riche, but proud of his roots guy. Apologies for the wonky similies; I need to eat...

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  11. sounds like you are onto a winner to me ...

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  12. lately I've been having strong bacon cravings that strike at about 9:30am and I'm sitting at my desk at work looking over at the Bolton Hotel (who do these yummy baked bacon & egg things) and all I can think is "baaaaacoonnnnn".

    I think I need a jar of this jam to keep at work to stop me from running across the road for my bacon fix ;)

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  13. Wow! I never got the McDonald's-fries-dipped-in-sundae thing but bacon jam sounds amazing!

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  14. Oh my goodness. Why has this not been in my life?

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  15. I'm salivating! Havoc Farm are selling bags of dry cured bacon pieces -- look like off-cuts and loose ends. They taste amazing and they're cheaper than rashers. In the bacon department at Moore Wilson.

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  16. I think you should make Bacon Martinis to go with this. Although if you want to go full Swanson perhaps a bacon wiskey???
    thttp://www.google.com/reader/view/#stream/feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.sweetpeachblog.com%2Fjournal%2Fatom.xml

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  17. I've made this a couple of times now and every time it's a winner! Last time I scraped up all the un-eaten goo and added some boiling water for a bacony-syrupy-coffee-y beverage of AMAZINGNESS!

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