It started with this:
Intrigued, I followed the link and found a recipe from an Alaskan Blogger* for WHISKEY BACON JAM. Yup. Could it get any more perfect for me? There’s booze. There’s bacon. There’s preserving. NIRVANA! If you read my Summer Berry Cake post you know I’ve found preserving to be a refuge from the ick that is politics right now. So yesterday I left work, bought the ingredients for this and set out to make me some Whiskey Bacon Jam.
Ok, so right off the bat I have to tell you, I experienced a severe crisis of faith in the making of this. There was a point in the middle where I was convinced “unmitigated disaster” characterized the experiment. But I held on and powered through and I have to say I’m SO glad I did. We made a few adjustments, and would make a few more in the future, but I’m so happy with the results I’ll be serving it to company next week.
This is the original ingredient list:
Whiskey Bacon Jam
3 pounds thick bacon
5 walla walla onions
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
1 1/2 cups coffee
1/2 cup whiskey+an extra splash
dollop of maple syrup
dash of balsamic vinegar
dash of hot sauce**more depending on your tastes
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of cayenne
couple good dashes of smoked paprika
fresh grated nutmeg–about 1/4 of one?
So basically this is an onion marmelade/chutney/jam with bacon. Except it is a lot of bacon!
First adjustment was first mistake. For reasons not entirely clear to me I decided to only put in four onions. Should have gone with all 5. Nice big ones too. Use vidalia or some other sweet onion. The onions have the pectin, the “juice” and the bulk you need to make crispy bacon into jam. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of them.
Second adjustment, the amount of liquid (gee, maybe it was the missing onion!) seemed low, especially for something that cooks for 2 hours. I added at least another 1/2 cup of coffee and plenty more Whiskey. In fact, I dumped in most of this bottle. In most recipes you want to be careful about watering it down with too much liquid. Not so here. Add away. It could have taken more even, the end product is a tad dry.
So after the onions cooked down and we added the rest of the ingredients, my future jam is bubbling away, looking dry, and scaring me. At this point I’m certain of disaster. Enter Chef Rob. He tastes it and decides it needs…something. You have to understand how he works. He isn’t interested in creating a replicable recipe when we cook at home. He wants food to taste good. So he just starts adding stuff. A little of this, a little of that. Maybe some more from column A…and so on. So I can tell you what he added, and why, but not how much. Very much like the original blogger, we added dollops and sprinkles and heaping doses. Have fun making this at home…
- more sugar (brown)
- rice wine vinegar (I’m certain that was an intentional choice over more balsamic, but I don’t know why)
- jalapeno fresh from the garden
- more balsamic vinegar (my addition at the end)
So I started feeling better as the taste started coming together. After this all simmers for 2 hours you put it all in the food processor and…Viola! Whiskey Bacon Jam!
Ok, so the end product?
A Homer Simpson drool is about the best way to describe this jam. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful out of the jar all night.
Couple of things I’d change. I’d include the full amount of onions and maybe even more.
Second. More whiskey. MORE WHISKEY. In fact, I’d add some at the end, possibly after its been taken off the heat to keep the full whiskey bite.
Another recipient of the tweet heard round the world, @gregorthecat, also set out to play last night and made Apple Brandy Bacon Chutney, suggesting that really once you had the concept, you could go quite hog wild with this idea!
Now the question comes, what to do with it?
The original poster, hey what’s for dinner mom had a few suggestions, including putting it on grilled cheese, which sounds delicious. I think it would be great on thin sliced baguette with goat cheese. Also, I’m thinking as a garnish for hot dogs. Yep, hot dogs. Drooling just thinking about it. (Side note, why hasn’t anyone introduced the slider version of hot dogs yet?) I’d love to hear about other riffs on this idea (whiskey bacon jam) and brainstorms on what to do with it.
Also threw this together
What else would you expect me to do with left over whiskey and berries??
* hey mom what’s for dinner is a really neat blog. She lives in Alaska and is basically living out my fantasy (except in mine I somehow have enough land IN the City of Pittsburgh to pull it off, because you know I’m NOT LEAVING.) Her post today is about making bacon! That is totally on my list! I bought a cheesy preserving book when Borders was closing just because it had a chapter on making bacon and preserved meats. In fact this weekend we are making beef Jerky. I can’t manage, nor do I really aspire to, the level of rigor and ideological purity most of these folks manage (from her profile: “I refuse to microwave, I won’t eat food that comes in squeeze pouches and I try to avoid ‘real flavor added’ products. My kids don’t know what pop-tarts are and have never had gummy fruits. “) but I admire it and love the inspiration they provide. Like Smitten Kitchen, you can expect to see hey mom what’s for dinner to show up regularly.