Bacon Jam: From "I don't get it" to " I can't live without it"

Sometimes, not often but sometimes, my fellow employee-owners here at King Arthur Flour would like to murder me. Well, maybe not murder, but definitely toss me out the window in displeasure. Like the other day…

I was spending the day in the test kitchen, and I need to cook some bacon. Well, quite a bit of bacon. Like pounds of bacon. At 8 o’clock in the morning.

Can you imagine that? Arriving to work and the whole building smells like frying bacon? So, you check the tasting kitchen, ready to snag a few pieces of porky goodness to bring to your desk and… no bacon.  You’d be thinking dastardly thoughts about my well being too.

After the fifth or sixth person came to the kitchen to give me a sarcastic “thanks a lot” or glare daggers at my back, I sent this email, titled “Whasup with the bacon!?”:

“A batch of bacon jam in the making, and perhaps some maple bacon cupcakes.  I know it’s a killer, but the rewards will be great later today!”  Finally the hordes calmed down, knowing that eventually I would be feeding them their beloved bacon. Of course, from then on I was fielding questions instead of dodging bullets. “Bacon JAM? ”  “BACON Jam? ” “What the heck is BACON JAM?!”.

Bacon jam is the salsa of the decade so far. It seems to have started with a particular food truck out west, then it was featured on an episode of “Top Chef” and it’s been going like wildfire ever since. Bacon jam is a bacon and onion relish, cooked down to a syrupy goodness with brown sugar, maple syrup and a host of other sweet and savory flavors. The smoky bacon marries so well with the sweet onions and syrups and each chef has their own take on ingredients to add to give it their own twist.

My twist here? I couldn’t resist using our entrancing boiled cider as part of the liquid, and chef Susan Reid suggested some bay for complexity. It is a masterful combination and completely addictive.

Let’s get started on our Bacon Jam.

Ah, bacon. How do I love thee bacon, let me count the ways…

Cut 1 1/2 pounds of  nice thick bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook until crisp. I like to use a skillet for cooking my bacon, but some folks like to use the oven. Any way you like is fine, you just want the bacon on the crisper side.

Like this. Nice dark edges, fat rendered out. If you think it smells good now, just wait.

In the bowl of a 2 quart or larger crock pot, place:
the cooked bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 dried bay leaves

The onions will brown up and cook down, the bacon will soften slightly and the liquid will have cooked down.

If you are not a coffee fan, don’t worry. NO ONE could tell I had put coffee in this. It just gives a deeper, richer flavor.

Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. (thanks everyone for reminding me to add this important info!!!)

Pour the jam into a food processor or blender, removing the bay leaves, and pulse to a relish consistency. You may find that there is still a bit too much liquid for your liking at this point. Easily fixed…

By simmering the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until the liquid reduces and the jam is thick and syrupy. By now the scent has practically driven you mad, so it’s time to start tasting.

When you make a vat of bacon jam in a building full of people and it is time to serve, you’d better have a lot of toast. Turn your oven on to 350°F and use your oven racks as giant toast racks. Monitor well, there will be a little smoking of crumbs and crumbles from the pieces of bread.

Turn the toast and move pieces about the oven as they brown up. Remove the finished pieces as they are done and continue to bake until all of the pieces are golden brown and ready to go.

I’m happy to say, after serving my co-workers piles of toast and bacon jam, they forgave me…for now. I hope your family and friends will do the same for you.

Please make, rate and review our recipe for Bacon Jam.

Print just the recipe:

Show me the bacon! BLT Pizza; Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake ; Bacon Bites

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Trina Kerr

    I JUST made a batch of this for Christmas Gifts today, November 29, 2015.
    I made it according to the recipe minus the bay leaf and substituted the cider vinegar with balsamic. I then canned it in 8oz jars and placed in a water bath for 45 minutes. Would this last until Christmas??
    Should I keep it refrigerated?
    I LOVE this website and will be purchasing the Boiled Cider!!!
    Thank you,
    Trina

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Trina, first of all, your substitutions sound delish! Second, following the safety guidelines set by the USDA for canning of meats, both cooked and uncooked meats should only be pressure canned. This recipe is only designed to last about seven to 10 days in the fridge. So here are my suggestions; stick the cans in the freezer until you’re ready to gift them, or take one for the team, enjoy them yourself and make another batch closer to Christmas! Do what works best for you, but I hope this helps. Bryanna@KAF

    2. Trina Kerr

      Hi Bryanna!!
      THANK YOU for responding!!
      I just decided to solve the problem and purchase a pressure scanner! LOL!
      Merry Christmas!!!

  2. PeteH

    Could you heat-process this — i.e. really CAN it — to make it shelf-stable without refrigeration ?

    If so, it would make a terrific Christmas gift.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry Pete, we would not suggest to heat processes this recipe to can it. It will still require refrigeration. Jon@KAF

  3. Lynda

    Would this be good with buttermilk scones?
    Yes, it would. As long as they aren’t too sweet, as the jam itself has sweetness to it. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. dmoore1

    I cure and smoke my own bacon using pork shoulder roasts. It tastes like Canadian style bacon. Would this be a good choice for this recipe?

    Don’t see why not – sounds yummy! PJH

    Reply
  5. alucas

    I made a batch of bacon jam a couple months ago. Didn’t use boiled cider, but instead a little cider vinegar. It’s wonderful. We love it. I canned a batch, using a pressure canner. This is a low acid food and all meat needs to be pressure canned. Takes forever to can meat. Follow your canner’s instructions for meat, and pay attention to altitude adjustments. Make sure to allow a tiny extra bit of headspace. Even though that’s a hot and time-consuming job, canning this recipe is so worth it. Great gifts plus you can have some whenever you want. I used 8-oz and 4-oz jars. So good!

    Reply
  6. plvannest

    I really want to try this, but I flat-out can’t abide the taste of maple. Is there something that can be substituted for the maple syrup?
    You may want to try honey. Often honey and maple syrup are interchangeable and I think honey would do well in this recipe. Let us know if you try it! Elisabeth

    Reply
  7. glpruett

    GOOD IDEA with the baker’s twine, which I have in stock! I think I might go and tie up a bundle or two, put them back into my bay leaf container, and then next time I’ll be ready to go. Thanks again!

    Reply
  8. glpruett

    Oh, good grief, MaryJane…you’ve just made me fall in love with you (AGAIN!)!!! I sent my hubby out to get a couple of pounds of bacon the night I saw this blog, but then one thing and another came up and I just made it last night. We both HATE coffee, but knowing what it does for chocolate baking, I decided to go ahead and put it in. For those of us who are non-coffee drinkers, what exactly does “strong” brewed coffee mean? I decided to brew the coffee with 1.5 Tbsp. ground coffee per cup of water, instead of the usual 1 Tbsp. I guess it worked okay…I CAN HARDLY STOP SHOVELING SPOONFUL AFTER SPOONFUL OF THIS STUFF INTO MY MOUTH!

    I discovered when I was in the middle of mixing it up that I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar, so I substituted white vinegar and it doesn’t seem any worse for the substitution…see all caps above! I had one piece of cornbread leftover from a baking over the weekend, so this morning I gently heated the cornbread in the microwave, dropped a spoonful ( or TWO!) onto the split cornbread, and it was out of this world.

    Only problem was that in my haste to get the bacon jam into the food processor for chopping, I forgot to take out the bay leaves…I see that another commenter had the same mental lapse! Oh, my, the things that happen in the kitchen to keep us humble! I needed to simmer my jam in a saucepan for an hour and a half, though, so I had plenty of “bay-leaf-picking” time!

    This recipe will be my “wow the family at Christmas with what comes out of my kitchen” this year! Thanks, again, for all you do for US!
    I’m so glad you are lovin’ the jam. Sinful, ain’t it?! I hope the leaf pickin’ goes well. I’ve heard of people tying bright baker’s twine around the bay, but I’ve never remembered to do that ahead of time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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