Bacon & Apple Butter 1.0

I offer up this recipe in the same way forensic scientists present the contents of a black box to a review panel; but I believe the general theory to be sound. For your consideration…

Michelle had mentioned to me recently trying a bacon jam on a burger in a local restaurant. She was very pleased with a strong impression of sweetness it left. In the hopes of winning her affections, I decided to embark on an experiment of my own.

Most of the recipes I found online stress the savouriness of bacon jam—which generally means lots of onions and garlic with some incidental flavour enhancers like chilies and coffee.

My thoughts went this way: how do I lean into the sweetness without adding a lot of sugar? Apples. A natural.

1.5 kilos of bacon (500g of that double-smoked)
500g apples, peeled & chopped
350ml amber maple syrup
100ml brandy
100ml apple cider vinegar
100ml apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves
3 allspice berries
3 cardamom pods
2 star anise
8 black peppercorns

Prep:

Before beginning any cooking, I decided to prep all my ingredients, starting with the apples. Using a hand cranked gizmo that Michelle favours, I peeled, cored & sliced the apples; then broke them up into a bowl by hand. I’m now a total convert to an old-fashioned gadget.

Next, I put together a cheese-cloth bag with all the spices. I used some pepper, but in general stayed with spices that are common to sweet dishes like apple pie.

Finally, I roughly chopped the bacon.

Step one:

I browned all the bacon to a mostly crispy state and then dumped it into a bowl lined with paper towels and set it aside.

Step two:

Removing all but 100ml of bacon fat, I added the apples to the pot and sauteéd them until softened but still recognizable.

Step three:

I added the bacon back to the pot and the remaining wet ingredients and topped it off with the spice bag.

Step four:

I cooked the combined ingredients on low heat for 4 hours. Then blitzed the mixture with an immersion blender.

Here’s the final product:

It tastes good, quite good, but I’m not satisfied.

I tried it out on family, friends and even some strangers at a random potluck; everyone seems to really enjoy it, but I’m not satisfied. It doesn’t work for me.

I have in mind a few tweaks that I’m going to try next:

  1. Chop the bacon a little finer in its raw state to reduce or eliminate the immersion blending.
  2. Reduce the initial cooking of the bacon.
  3. Increase the initial cooking of the apples—until they’re starting to break down.
  4. Hold back the apple cider vinegar.
  5. Reduce the overall cooking time from 4 to 2–3 hours.

My goal here is to produce a bacon & apple butter that I’m really happy with, then I’m going to pressure can a large batch and give jars away for holiday gifts and party favours. I could use the existing batch, it seems well liked—Michelle even had some with crackers for supper last night—but I feel like there’s a better recipe just a little bit further on from here.

Any suggestions or comments would be very welcome…

Bacon & Apple Butter 1.0 on Punk   Domestics

I made this yesterday – well a version of it – the recipe I printed out ommitted the first step “fry off the bacon” – so I had sauteed onions and garlic and THEN added the bacon and continued to saute – i added the usual suspects, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, also powdered ginger, cinnamon, mustard and sweet smoked spanish paprika, chilli sauce, – I didn’t have bourbon or whiskey so I added rum – and seasoned to taste. Not convinced either – I blended it in my thermomix – and now it has a creamy appearance – not a glistening one. Next time I would use lardons instead of bacon strips, and perhaps cook out MORE not less as you suggested – I think this has caused the creamy texture. Tastes ok – but haven’t tried it on my usual guinea pigs….to be continued……

Interesting…did you not remove any of the bacon fat? That would definitely account for the creamy texture—particularly as the thermomix is a lot more thorough at blending than my stick. I’m thinking of cooking it less because I found that the body of the jam—the suspension—was flavourful, but the actual chunks of bacon left after immersion blending seemed flavourless. I was trying for a lightly chunky texture, so I’m thinking even more chunk, but less cooking (especially in the initial frying) to try and retain some flavour to the pieces of bacon themselves.

well I’m guessing that by not cooking off the bacon before adding it to the onions and garlic, that I had ommitted the rendering & removal of fat that you managed to achieve – that would certainly explain the creamy texture – and now makes me not want to eat it! Free range bacon ain’t cheap in this part of the world (cost me $20 for this experiment!)

I also think that the long cooking time would reduce the flavour content of the bacon – transferring it to the liquid – maybe not cook down for so long in the liquid ???…

Sorry, didn’t want to put you off your batch! I’m sure it’s good in moderation, it is a condiment after all. I sympathize too, the double-smoked bacon I used alone cost me $20…and that’s only a third of the total amount of bacon in my recipe.

Not cooking it as long in the liquid is exactly what I’m going to try next, stay tuned.

[...] mentioned in the post on my first attempt at a bacon jam-type spread, I had developed a preparation that was reasonably well received by tasters but [...]

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>