Think All My Children at 30,000 feet. James Bond in a girdle. My new favorite show, and certainly in the running for Best Show Ever, is Pan Am. Last night I watched all 4 episodes and was completely hooked; LL tells me I actually smiled the whole way through. Sure it lacks nuance, especially when compared to Mad Men, its smarter older brother. The plot points are more like exclamation marks, and surprise character development is neatly tucked in between commercials. But I don’t care. It was cotton candy for my brain, spun with fantasy and glamour. Drama without angst. Christina Ricci with awesome crazy eyes. And best of all – the stewardess is a spy! In my book, you just can’t get more ridiculous and fun than that.

I had originally wanted to check out the show if only to cringe and groan. I read Nancy Franklin’s New Yorker piece on Pan Am and The Playboy Club and heard author Ann Hood’s take on her time as a TWA flight attendant on NPR’s The Story. Took note of online grumbles about today’s depiction of women as well as arguments about the show ranging from sexy feminism to rewriting history. But no one mentioned that it’s just plain entertaining. And like a medieval queen, at the end of the day I appreciate a little pure entertainment.

I also appreciate a little supper. Earlier in the day LL emailed me this bit he read on

The infamous Butter Burger will return to Maverick next week on the 18th, and going forward, it will be on the menu every Tuesday in limited number. It is made of 70% Meyer Ranch chuck (cured for 24 hours), 20% butter, and 10% bacon, all ground together. The burger is served “with bacon-pepper marmalade, jalapeno mayo, Fiscalini cheddar, an onion ring, little gem lettuce, and heirloom tomato on a Acme round bun served with Kennebec fries and glass of red wine for $18.”

I sensed a dare. I’d already planned on barbecuing burgers for dinner; how could I not try and make a bacon spread to go with? I searched online for “bacon marmalade” and “bacon jam.” There’s a pretty common one adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe with coffee as an ingredient. I found other recipes with bourbon or sriracha. I like heat and don’t have a coffee maker (tea girl!) so improvised with what we had on hand.

I came up with a bacon jam smells like brunch with a bite and tastes like a tiny firecracker of heat and sweet exploding with salty goodness in your mouth. Last night we spread it on burgers topped with blue cheese and baby dill pickles. Today I made a bacon jam panini with arugula and mozzarella. Who knows about tomorrow . . . bacon jam pizza with fontina and baby greens? as a topping for roast pork loin with sauteed swiss chard? spread on sourdough and topped with a poached egg? Make it yourself and let me know what you did:

Life in a skillet  Spicy Bacon Jam

What you need:

  • 1 lb bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons sriracha
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

  • In a pot, cook the bacon over medium – low heat in a pot. Drain the grease but don’t worry about blotting the bacon. (I don’t often have bacon grease so I save it in a jar in the fridge to make refried beans).
  • Add onions and garlic, cook over medium heat until onions are translucent
  • Mix remaining ingredients together in a pan, then add to the pot. Keeping the heat at medium, bring to a boil and stir often for about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for an hour longer – slower is definitely better. Stir occasionally while cooking and add a tablespoon or two of water as needed – you want to end up with a thick, syrupy consistency, not sticky and dried out.

This recipe made 12 ounces of chunky bacon jam. Keep refrigerated.

Pan Am and bacon jam – the perfect end to a weekend.

update 12/29/11:
In retrospect, it was way too much sriracha. Everyone who tasted it liked it quite a bit, but the heat overwhelmed the sweet and salty. I tried again and came up with a much more perfect recipe . . . . here it is!