I’d never tasted bacon jam. And, truth be told, I wasn’t all that interested in it, no matter how much my P&P colleagues verbally felated it.
Why? I’m generally fearful of anything too sweet or gelatinous (like, say, meat jam). Nor do I tend to enjoy crock-potting meats back to their primordial state, all the while ensuring that the house will smell of smoked animal flesh for the next week.
But there I was on Saturday night, coaching my ultra-competitive wife to cook our bacon in small batches so the fat would render just so and later standing guard against the world’s most annoying toddler who maddeningly kept insisting that the slow cooker be turned up to full blast, or else turned off. (According to early childhood experts, he’s internalizing the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ instinct — or so I assume.)
Nevertheless, Rob’s Newcleus-themed, breakdance-infused bacon jam challenge could not go unanswered. And as expected, it brought out the worst in all of us: Namely sniping over who would cook Martha Stewart’s crock-pot version of bacon jam, then actually making it. But if the 1984 classic Breakin’ taught us anything, it’s that once the cardboard has been laid down and the beatbox turned to full blast, there’s no turning back.
Here was the matchup: Martha’s bacon-y jam vs. a recipe from the Homesick Texan blog + 1 cup of Four Roses bourbon. Martha’s recipe called for a concoction of rendered chopped bacon slow-cooked in a foul stew of garlic, coffee, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. The other recipe called for roughly the same elements, plus a few more apple-pie related spices, such as cinnamon and allspice. And the added slog of bourbon, of course, which I think was Rob’s not-so-secret ingredient.
Mix all this together in a slow-cooker, then let it go at whatever heat the youngest, grumpiest member in your family deems appropriate for four-plus hours. Whir it in the food processor and chill overnight. Or until Christmas — apparently bacon jam makes the ideal Holiday gift, according to literally every recipe for it.
The good news is that the bacon jam packs a flavor wallop. And as advertised there was a nice point-counterpoint element when smeared on a disc of fresh french bread, or better, a warm breakfast toast triangle.
The bad news is also that it packed a flavor wallop. You can only handle about a teaspoon of this stuff at a time, and so there it sits in the fridge days later, staring at us from a clear plastic container like an old man’s stool sample waiting to be analyzed by a team of epidemiologists. Will it still be there by Christmas? You bet.
So Rob conceded victory to Martha, mainly because the recipe tasted more like actual bacon. But was it really a victory? Seems like there’s a reason bacon jam is best enjoyed as one little cherry bomb on a restaurant charcuterie plate, and not in big home-made batches.
Differing opinions are welcome.