~ Brendan Behan, Irish poet, novelist, and playwright
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 concotion I’ve dubbed “drunken Irish bacon jam.” In celebration of St. Patricks Day, I grabbed some Guiness 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 could quite possibly be described as nirvana. Yes, it’s that good!
Drunken Irish Bacon Jam
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup jalapeno jelly
- 3/4 cup Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 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.
2. 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.
3. Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is thickened and syrupy, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
4. Remove mixture from slow cooker, and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool, then store in the refrigerator overnight.
5. Transfer mixture from the bowl to a food processor; pulse lightly until coarsely chopped. Serve, or refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks. Makes 2 cups.
Notes: I used 3/4 pound peppered bacon and 3/4 pound applewood-smoked bacon, both from local meat purveyor Burgers’ Smokehouse Sliced Bacon Sampler; feel free to substitute regular bacon in their place. Also, if you can’t find the specific type of Guiness I used, feel free to substitute other varieties … or experiment with your own favorite beer.
So, what am I planning on doing with all this bacon goodness? The first thing that comes to mind is a good ‘ole grilled cheese sandwich. Perhaps some Irish cheddar and a thick schmeer 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!