For most folks in the United States, corned beef and cabbage is the food stuff synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day … and that’s exactly what I’ll be having tonight for dinner with my family.
But right now? Right now, it’s all about the bacon … bacon jam that is.
As America’s obsession with all things bacon began to skyrocket a few years ago, various incarnations of bacon jam — a delectable, sweet, and savory combination of bacon, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and other odds and edds — made their way on to restaurant menus — and in to home kitchens as well. A search of the Internet for “bacon jam” yields at least 50 recipes, if not more.
As an unabashed bacon lover, it stands to reason I’m a big fan of bacon jam … and that I am. I’m an even bigger fan of the bacon jam I made for you … an amazing concoction I’ve dubbed “drunken Irish bacon jam.”
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I grabbed some Guinness and some Irish whiskey — perhaps the two most popular beverages in Ireland — then ventured into the kitchen and came out with a recipe sure to make even the most cynical Irishman kick up his heels and dance a lively jig.
Salty, sweet, unctuous — with just a hint of heat and dark, roasted malt — my drunken Irish bacon jam (adapted from Martha Stewart) could quite possibly be described as nirvana. Yes, it’s that good!
- 1½ pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup packed dark-brown sugar
- ¼ cup jalapeno jelly
- ¾ cup Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Reserve the remaining bacon fat for another use.
- In same skillet, add the onions and garlic, and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the cider vinegar, brown sugar, jalapeno jelly, beer, and whiskey. Bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bacon, and stir to combine.
- Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is thickened and syrupy, about 4 to 4½ hours.
- Remove mixture from slow cooker, and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Transfer mixture from the bowl to a food processor; pulse lightly until coarsely chopped. Serve, or refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.
The first thing that comes to mind is a good ‘ole grilled cheese sandwich. Perhaps some Irish cheddar and a thick schmear of bacon jam nestled between two slices of toasted sourdough … yes, I think that will do just fine!
For some other fabulous uses, check out this article from Chow … I think any of these would be perfect!
What would you do with some bacon jam? Let me know in the comments!