I came across this recipe in Everyday Food last year, and thought it’d make a nice appetizer, or maybe an unusual food gift for the Holidays.
As it happens, this is very much an either/or comestible – folk REALLY like it! Or, not so much – so, a so-so appetizer. Then, one cold, snowy evening in January, I had a taste for some baked beans (OK, Woodman’s had a pretty decent sale), and thought to add a good bit of the jam into the pot with the beans.
The bacon jam added layers of flavor to your basic (not to say cheap) can o’ beans.
Fast forward to today, the eve of the unofficial start of the summer season and, I think, a perfect time to think about baked beans and barbecue and bacon – and so – a perfect time to ready your supply of bacon jam so you can have Wicked Simple Baked Beans on the side whenever you fire up the grill!
First, the jam
(this recipe will make one pint):
•1-1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
•2 medium yellow onions, diced small
•3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
•1/2 cup cider vinegar
•1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
•1/4 cup maple syrup
•3/4 cup coffee – I used instant espresso
•Fresh grated black pepper
Cook the bacon in a large skillet – I use my HUGE 5 quart Calphalon pan, it gives the bacon plenty of room to cook all at one go without crowding (see the May 25, 2011 Food for Thought) – over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned – about twenty minutes.
Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined platter to drain.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet – you can chill and save the rest if you like – it would be really nice in a savory galette or quiche crust. Add the onion and garlic to the tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan and cook until the onion is translucent – about six minutes. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for about two minutes.
Stir in the bacon to combine and transfer all to a 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy. The recipe says to cook for 3-1/2 to 4 hours – but all was well and truly done in our Cuisinart slow cooker in about two hours – so watch your pot until it looks right. Transfer to your food processor fitted with the metal blade, and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Let cool, and then refrigerate, covered, up to four weeks. For longer storage, Rich’s mom pops the jam into ice cube trays, freezes until firm, then stores the icy cubes of bacon goodness in freezer bags until needed.
Now for the beans:
•1, 28 oz., can baked beans
go ahead and use the, ermmm, value priced beans, the bacon jam’ll make them taste like the real deal
•1 tsp Colman’s Mustard Powder
•1/4 pint bacon jam
Heat oven to 350º.
Stir the beans, Colman’s, and jam together and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let rest a bit, and serve.
What could be simpler?