December 14, 2011. My 21st anniversary of meeting LL and the 20th anniversary of our engagement. An occasion that called for – at the very least – a dinner treat – but dinner was elusive that night. Kid Two had a 6:00 keyboard lesson, his first with a new teacher, former Doobie Brother Dale Ockerman. While he was making music I drove to Whole Paycheck – I mean Whole Foods – to find something to make for dinner. The pizza boys were too busy shuffling around looking busy to help me out, the salad bar was a bit wilted, and the fish department smelled fishy. Feeling put out, I left, mentally figuring out Plan B. We stopped by Gayle’s Bakery on the way home but the Blue Plate Special had sold out by 7:30 and I didn’t feel like ficelles and twice-baked potatoes. So. I dropped Kid Two off at home and went for the big splurge – take-out from Bittersweet Bistro. Turned out to be a serendipitous choice . . . one of their dinner specials was Bacon Jam Pizza! I’d already made two batches of my own bacon jam in search of the perfect recipe, and finally something to compare my effort to. And Bittersweet’s pizzas are nicely done; a plate-sized pie with thin crust and tasty toppings applied sparingly. So I loaded up, and by 9pm – on a school night – we finally all sat down to dinner: sliders for Kid Two, steak sandwich for Kid One, Mediterranean pasta for Mija, beef stroganoff for LL. Sadly, though, my bacon jam pizza manifested itself as a Bacon Chicken Ranch Pizza, so recipe-inventing-wise, I was still on my own.
I’d been giving bacon jam a lot of thought. My first batch was too spicy – 1/4 cup sriracha for one pound of bacon was definitely too much. It was all about the heat, not the blending of flavors. My second batch was more balanced, having gone lighter on the sriracha and the tequila, but I let the bacon cook too long, so there was a slight burned taste. Plus, it lacked zing. After thinking and mixing and tasting, my third batch of bacon jam came out just right. Thank goodness! – it was a big investment of time and ingredients I would have hated to throw out. LL had the genius idea to throw in the whole lemon – that really finished it.
I pressure canned these babies and gave them away as Christmas gifts. Here’s what I did:
Bacon Jam Recipe – Best Yet
- 4 pounds bacon
- 3 extra large sweet yellow onions
- 3 poblano peppers
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup real maple syrup
- 3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup tequila
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 tsp sriracha
- scant 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
What to do:
- Cut slabs of bacon into quarters cross-wise. Put about a half-pound at a time into a large dutch oven and cook on medium heat. This is the tedious part, so get some good music going to keep you company.
- Drain fat as you go. There will be quite a bit, so pour it into a large Mason Jar to save for some future project like refried beans or roux.
- Take each bunch of bacon out when it is browned and set aside to drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the bacon is cooked.
- While the bacon is cooking, chop your onions. I recently invested in a KitchenAid hand blender with a chopper, and I LOVE this thing:
- Now take your poblanos, cut them in half, discard the stem and seeds, and slice the halves into half again. If you have a gas cooktop, place them directly over medium-high flame to smoke them a bit. Use tongs. Don’t scratch your eyes after you play with the peppers. Better yet, wear gloves!
- When the peppers cool, chop them into small pieces. Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup. Chop the rest of the lemon into small pieces – pith and peel included. I tried using the KitchenAid chopper, but it was only mildly successful – you just have to do this one by hand.
- In a small bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, tequila, lemon pepper, paprika, sriracha, and tapioca starch.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in your Dutch oven. Add the onion, poblano, and lemon and sauté for about 5 minutes. Crumble the bacon into the pot and stir well.
- Add the vinegar-sugar-spice mixture. Bring almost to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to simmer until the mixture is thick and syrupy – it took about 40 minutes. Stir often.
I parceled out the finished bacon jam into 12 4-oz Mason jars and pressure canned them for 75 minutes at 11psi. They need a full half inch head space; I only left 1/4 inch and had some seepage. There was enough left over to fill another 2 or 3 jars; I’m not sure exactly since we served it with burgers that first night at a party and I kept the rest for myself.
You will need a pressure canner to pull this one off safely. Here’s the one I bought: