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. Jain

    I’ve been reading your column for several years now for baking ideas and helpful information, not for photos of dead pigs. Gross. Please return to your wheat-y roots.
    Jain, I’m so sorry that the photo was upsetting to you. I hope you’ve found inspiration in our other blogs and recipes instead. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. beejay45

    This would be excellent on a PB&J! Maybe add a little curry powder to a batch.
    Or do something marmalade-ish – bacon, onions and your basic marmalade recipe. That should give you enough acid to can, plus think how great that would be on a sandwich with ham or turkey, or just cheese!
    What a great springboard for ideas!

    Reply
  3. Bridgid

    The musical is “The Secret Garden” and it is adapted from the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I play the dead wife (a ghost!) Lily, and I get to sing the most beautiful and haunting (really they are) melodies. I also get to wear a lacy lovely costume and waltz. (I love to dress up – ever since I was a kid.) The man who plays my husband is amazingly talented, and you can tell that I am loving this. Thank you for asking!
    LOVE that book, and you give me the shivers talking about haunting melodies. I’m sure it will be beautiful. We do all get to see pictures, right? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. emdh

    I am so glad I have some thick-sliced bacon in the freezer and boiled cider in the fridge — am making this tonight! One question, MaryJane, do you think I could freeze some of it? Not sure if we’d go through it in two weeks. Thanks!

    Emilie

    p.s. re: the comments about the boiled cider — for what it’s worth, I always keep it on hand because it’s a great way to make small quantities of apple cider for recipes. That way I never have to buy a big jug of cider that no one will drink. And someone at KAF told me some time ago that it basically never goes bad.
    Too right! And yes, you can freeze for up to 4 weeks. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. HMB

    How long will this keep in the fridge? Can it be frozen? I know, these may seem like ridiculous questions — when my boys were home I wouldn’t have to ask because this stuff would be inhaled within minutes, but now that we’re empty nesters …
    Keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks, freeze for up to 4 weeks. Invite the neighbors in for nibbles and wine, and it will be gone in no time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. cwcdesign

    So, cooking recommendations if you don’t have a crock pot? In a Dutch oven in the oven? On top of the stove? I have 2 sons that would love this! Thanks, Carol
    I’d go the oven route, in a slow oven. If you do stovetop, you run the risk of scorching all of those lovely sugars. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. yerkesd

    It sounds wonderful! Do you think this would freeze well?
    You can freeze it airtight for up to 4 weeks. But I bet you get up in the middle of the night just to thaw out a bite or two. 😉 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. tillytootles1

    I can hardly wait to try this new recipe. I was sharinig the comments with my daughter – who also loves to cook. Neither one of us likes coffee. In fact, if you don’t like the taste of coffee that is all you can taste – the coffee flavor. My comment is – if you can’t taste it – then why put it in???? I am going to try it, but I most definately will not put the coffee in my bacon jam.
    You can definitely leave out the coffee and use water instead, remember it is YOUR recipe now. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. faddiss

    I have been making onion jam which everybody loves, I think I need to add bacon. Instead on the cider or apple juice I use balsamic vinegar.
    The balsamic sounds great. I have less than a teaspoon left in my stash, so time to shop! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
    1. Linda Rodolff

      I recently discovered Bacon Jam at a local farmers market and it was SO expensive…but delicious; I decided that “I can Make this!! I have a few recipes as reference and now I found yours to add as well. I have a nice collection of flavored Basalmics and my thought is that my maple flavored one will go great in this recipe! I too plan to make some as Christmas gifts!

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