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 apple cider vinegar
100ml apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
3 allspice berries
3 cardamom pods
2 star anise
8 black peppercorns
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.
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.
Removing all but 100ml of bacon fat, I added the apples to the pot and sauteéd them until softened but still recognizable.
I added the bacon back to the pot and the remaining wet ingredients and topped it off with the spice bag.
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:
- Chop the bacon a little finer in its raw state to reduce or eliminate the immersion blending.
- Reduce the initial cooking of the bacon.
- Increase the initial cooking of the apples—until they’re starting to break down.
- Hold back the apple cider vinegar.
- 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…