Recipe: Imperial Bacon Jam
Two weeks ago, I didn’t even know that bacon jam was a thing. If it hadn’t been for a visit to Le Petit Bar, a really cool wine and charcuterie restaurant in Peterborough, Ontario, I would probably still be oblivious to its awesomeness.
It was a bacon espresso jam to be precise, and I couldn’t get over how good it tasted in combination with the cheeses and meats I was enjoying. I was hooked immediately. Just as quickly, the gears began turning in my head and I started to wonder how I might go about making my own. I knew that I wanted to incorporate beer from the outset and I thought that maybe, just maybe, one of my left-over Imperial Stouts from the weekend, with it’s coffee malt flavours, would fit the bill.
After a little research and far more improvisation I set to work. It took less than two hours start-to-finish (including purchasing the ingredients) and the result was great; addictingly sweet, smoky, slightly acidic and mildly bitter. For a delicious, quick and easy-to-make condiment that can bring a little something special to any meal of the day (try it with smoked duck and Gouda cheese), try the recipe below:
What you’ll need:
- 1 pckg – Smoked Strip Bacon (approx. 12 strips)
- 500 ml – Imperial Stout
- 1 cup – Brown Sugar
- 1 – Granny Smith Apple (sliced)
- 1/2 cup – Dried Cranberries (sweetened)
- 1 tbsp – Ground Espresso
- 1 tsp – Ground Pepper
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of jam.
In a saucepan, cook your bacon until it get’s nice and crispy (but don’t burn it). When crispy, drain the bacon grease into a bowl and make sure that any charred bits are removed from the saucepan to prevent off-flavours.
*Warning* – This will cause your home to smell delicious.
Add your Imperial Stout (I used Wellington Imperial Russian Stout), brown sugar, apple slices and dried cranberries into the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture reaches a boil, add your ground espresso and ground pepper. I also threw in a touch of cayenne pepper at this point for a little extra kick. Continue stirring. Reduce the mixture until it starts to become thick and sticky.
Remove from heat and carefully use a hand blender to render it as chunky as you desire. Give it a good stir and then transfer it to a jar or container for cooling/storage. Add additional bacon fat to taste.
Smoked Duck and Gouda Hors d’oeuvres
Whether you’re hosting or just looking for a decadent treat on a cold night, I highly recommend trying smoked duck and Gouda hors d’oeuvres with a little bit of your imperial bacon jam. They are simple to make, but taste far from it.
Besides the bacon jam, I purchased all my ingredients from Nicastro’s (Bank and Third in Ottawa). They have an excellent selection of great quality cheeses and meats to choose from (almost too many) and at a very fair price. To make about two dozen hors d’oeuvres you will require the following:
- 1 Baguette
- 100g of Smoked Duck Rillettes
- 200g Aged Gouda
The preparation is as simple as cutting thin slices of baguette and layering the smoked duck and Gouda cheese on it. Top it with a generous amount of bacon jam and serve. The Gouda is a great complement to smoked foods like our duck and the smoked bacon in the jam. The flavour profile of the jam serves to both support and heighten the other flavours. I recommend pairing with a Porter or Brown Ale. Both Porters and Brown Ales lend themselves very well to smoked foods. I personally chose a Brown Ale – Beyond the Pale’s new release ‘Velvet Jacket’.
The hors d’oeuvre is already quite rich with heavy smoked meats, bold cheese and bread – not to mention the jam itself. The jam also adds a bit of an espresso flavour and some hop bitterness, which works with a porter, but for me was a touch too similar. I wanted to add a little more contrast with my beer choice; rather than having something that matches the stronger flavours, I wanted something that worked well with the prevalent flavours, but that also highlighted some of the lesser notes. The way that the Brown Ale interacts with the caramelized brown sugar in the jam, the nuttiness of the cheese and the overall fattiness of the food is fantastic.