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. Natalie

    This was amazing! With no boiled cider on hand, I moved the cooked bacon to the crockpot, drained the fat, and then deglazed the bacon pan with a cup of apple cider. Stirring constantly, I brought the cider to a boil and reduced it to about 1/4 cup. Thick and syrupy, it was added to the mix. An extra (sticky) step, but the results were satisfactory!
    Perfect, and quick thinking. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. sarahh

    YUM!!!

    Can you give a ballpark volume amount for the sliced onion? I can’t eat onions, but shallots are okay. Are we talking 1 cup, 2 cups…just an estimate would be helpful. Thanks!

    Can’t wait to make this!!

    I would substitute 2 shallots per one onion even if it’s not an exact. Shallots have a stronger less sweet flavor.

    Reply
  3. PJColeman

    Our local farmers’ market has a butcher that always has a pile of bacon ends from his home cured bacon. I use them for great hot bacon dressing but they would be perfect for this recipe. Did I mention that the ends are far cheaper than his sliced bacon?

    Now I have to wait until the market opens on Thursday. Sigh.
    Ready for my address to mail me a boxful…? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. dwgentry

    Great reviews from friends this morning. Best line, “Bacon jam is a gateway drug for vegetarians.”
    Too funny! Thanks for the morning laugh. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. Cindy Leigh

    Hi PJ, a gallon cooks down to about a pint, more or less. I put mine in a recycled maple syrup bottle.

    Yeah, I think that’s what I got on the stovetop, too. Will definitely try in the crockpot – thanks, Cindy. PJH

    Reply
  6. AliceBlue

    Made it today, and this stuff would make cardboard taste great! I made sandwiches with it for dinner: spread some on kaiser rolls, then topped with sliced roasted chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Delicious!

    Reply
  7. Cindy Leigh

    I have to disagree about making boiled cider at home. It couldn’t be easier.
    Put a gallon of real cider in a large crock pot and cook on high overnight with the lid OFF. Stir before going to bed, and stir in the morning. It will cook right down. It may look foamy or like it has particles, but once you funnel it into a bottle and shake gently, there’s no foam or pieces. I have been making this ever since buying my first bottle of boiled cider. Figured I could try it myself and it comes out identical to the purchased boiled cider- just less expensive.
    Remember that the liquid thickens as it cools so don’t take it down too thick. If you do, just add back a bit of hot water.

    Thanks, Cindy – do you know how much you get from a gallon of cider? I tried this once on the stove top, and was surprised at how small an amount a gallon boiled down to… I’ll have to try it in the crockpot sometime. PJH

    Reply
  8. lambchop18

    I have a crockpot of this going now and wish I could fast forward the day by 4 hours. I have a suggestion as to how not to waste the yummy goodness in the pan after frying the bacon. I drained the bacon on a paper towel and discarded the fat in the pan. I took some of the cooking liquid and added it to the pan to deglaze the bottom and scrapped up the bits, then added it back into the crockpot. Waste not want not! My son is looking forward to this being done, we are looking forward to a great BLT sandwich with some Green Mountain sweet and hot mustard! Also this concoction would be great on a baked potato! Heather

    Reply
  9. clairenowacoski

    Some one at my old job use to cook bacon in the microwave every morning for their breakfast, and we all hatred her, because she never shared!!! At least you were nice to you coworkers.

    I’ve tried bacon jam before with balsamic and rosemary… but the apple cider is making me want to try it again!!!

    Reply

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