Let’s just say, for the sake of argument and being truthful, that all meat-eaters love bacon. Bacon is the undisputed king of meats, with its smoky sweetness, meaty chew, and salty crunch. Or maybe it’s disputed, but if it is there are plenty of us who would be willing to punch the disputer in the throat.
There is not much that can’t be improved with the addition of bacon, including desserts, salads, and breads. What other meat can make that claim? No other meat. Except maybe crispy duck skin, which was featured on that godawful failed television series “Sweet Genius” on Food Network. The eye-gougingly obnoxious contestant said “duck skin reminds me of bacon” and then proceeded to use it in an apparently successful dessert. If I were Full Jewish, I’d definitely be subbing crispy duck skin for a lot of things and hoping that it worked on a technicality.
My point is that bacon is the throbbing manhood of American culinary joy. There have been a few skeptics recently who have acted like, because everybody likes bacon, and because people have been experimenting with different uses for bacon, that it’s now not “cool” to like it anymore. That it’s been “overdone.” The people saying it are always the chode-bags who think that once something becomes mainstream, it has to suck. They usually consider themselves “artistes” and are insufferable shits about anything that isn’t esoteric and exclusive. That’s fine by me. They want to hate bacon? I will eat their bacon while they yammer on to one another about how steel and mud-daubed sculptures are experiencing a “modern renaissance.” OMG whatever.
Guess what? I made a sculpture made of bacon. But then I ate it. So what?
I will admit myself to being kind of a bacon snob. I won’t just run into a store or restaurant and buy Bar S bacon, because it’s not humanely raised, and pigs are smarter than dogs, so the idea of them being raised in abusive situations makes my little, cholesterol-riddled heart break. Instead, I usually get the Niman Ranch bacon. It’s phenomenal, thick, and made with animal welfare in mind. Lately, though, I’ve been taking my snobbery up to another level.
May I introduce you to my current boyfriend on the siiiiiide: Slab bacon.
I prefer slab bacon to sliced bacon because you can cut it into chewy, substantial matchsticks (called “lardons” or “pork hardons” depending on how much you’ve had to drink) and cubes for stews/soups/omelets/etc. It’s just infinitely more versatile, and it happens to be cheaper than the pre-cut, limp slices in vacuum packs that we’re so accustomed to purchasing from the grocery store.
I know,at least at Whole Foods, that they sometimes have it on hand at the butcher counter, or they’re more than willing to special order it for you if you’ll consider flirting and/or sleeping with a member of their butchery team. Fortunately, Whole Foods generally has a pretty presentable butchery team. It wouldn’t be THAT bad.
Usually, I get 5-10 lbs at a time, then spend an hour cutting it into cubes and slices and matchsticks to pack up and store in the freezer for all my bacon needs. And lo! My bacon needs are many and varied!
I grabbed a giant slab for Easter this year, and had so much that I decided to branch out a little.
Yes, I said it. Jam made with bacon. To spread on anything within reach, including biscuits, burgers, and neighborhood pets.
- 1½ lbs slab bacon, cubed
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ C brown sugar
- 1 C balsamic vinegar (use good quality)
- 2 T dutch process cocoa powder
- ¼ C water
- In a large skillet, fry bacon until crispy and delicious, but tender in the middle
- Remove bacon from pan and drain half of the fat
- In the remaining fat, saute the onions and garlic until translucent
- Add the brown sugar, vinegar, cocoa, and water and bring to a boil
- Return the bacon to the pan and cook for 2 minutes
- Dump the whole mess in a crockpot and cook for 4 hours with the lid off, until the mixture thickens and becomes somewhat syrupy
- Pour the mixture into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pasty
- Serve warm with crackers, toast, or on a burger
This keeps great in the fridge in a mason jar. Just gently warm what you need as you need it.
Martha Stewart made a version of this some time back that involved coffee and apple cider vinegar. But that sounded too gross. So I went a little rogue on the concept and came up with something that was a whole well beyond the sum of its parts. I challenge you to a bacon jam throwdown, Martha F Stewart!
The “F” stands for “Felony”
I implore you to try making this yourself. It lasts for a good couple weeks in the fridge, more in the freezer, and compliments everything like a smoky little butt-kisser. Seriously, a burger with arugula, bacon jam, and smoked gouda? Yes. Homemade Egg McMuffin with bacon jam? Yes. Bacon jam on good vanilla ice cream? Probably yes, but I don’t know because I haven’t smoked pot in a long time.
The key is in your ingredients. Get good bacon, use decent quality vinegar, and take the time to reduce it correctly. Then, just gently warm up a bit anytime you need some extra love in your life.
Which, okay– I’ve been reading 50 Shades of Grey and the sequels and any other literary porn I can find lately, so I need extra love in my life, like, OFTEN. And bacon jam doesn’t use up all of the AA batteries in the house, so it’s obviously a healthier option than most of the nation has taken in response to those books. I can’t imagine having to explain to Emmett that his Soothe n’ Glow Seahorse won’t sing anymore lullabies because mommy has been hitting the texts again and needed some extra Duracells.
Kidding. We use rechargeable Eneloop batteries. Obviously.