Posts Tagged “recipe”
What is bacon jam, you ask? It sounds sort of gross on the surface, but deep inside it's a combination of savory and sweet that tastes like nothing you've ever had. Smokey, succulent, sweet, meaty, and spreadable on your favorite things to spread stuff on. On Christmas day, we spread it on fresh eggless hushpuppies and it was magnificent. We went through an entire jar in nothing flat.
But how do you make bacon jam? Apparently Martha Stewart had some thoughts on it recently, which brought some attention to some recipes around the web. As is my way, I went through a few, isolated what I felt was the core of the recipe, then added my own touches. Here is my recipe for bacon jam.
Greg's Bacon Jam
Stage 1: Rendering
2 pounds bacon (I used one pack of the Fletcher's Dry Cure bacon they carry at my local Costco)
Stage 2: Cooking
2 large Mayan Sweet onions
2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 cloves chopped garlic
Stage 3: Reducing
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
14 ounces black coffee
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup plain apple sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (3 if you really like it smokey)
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
Stage 1: Rendering
The first and most tiring step is to cut all the bacon into approximately 1 inch pieces, then render off all those pieces in a large, cast iron, dutch oven over medium high heat until they're brown around the edges, but still soft in the middle. You'll have to do it in batches, flipping pieces of bacon about every 60-90 seconds. Even with thick cut bacon, it takes a while. Once the bacon is rendered, set aside on a paper towel to drain.
Stage 2: Cooking
Pour off all the fat then spoon a tablespoon or two back in. Chop the 2 onions and begin sauteeing them in the fat over medium heat. Add the brown sugar. The sugar will help the onions sweat like salt does and you'll find yourself simmering down a juicy pot of onions. Let it simmer until pretty much all the liquid has disappeared, the bacon fond has been absorbed by the onion/sugar/fat mixture, and the mixture is beginning to caramelize. Takes 30-45 minutes, depending on your stove's version of medium.
Stage 3: Reducing
Everyone in the pool! Put in all the remaining ingredients (liquids and bacon) and bring to a boil, then simmer over medium low heat for 2 hours until it's basically bacon in thick syrup. Other recipes will tell you to add water if it's getting too dry. Me, I believe that if it gets too dry, you're cooking it at too high a heat. If it's getting too dry, add a little water and turn the dang heat down a smidge.
After two or more hours, when it's thick and syrupy, remove it from the heat and let it cool 30 minutes.
Stage 4: Processing
In about 2-3 batches, run your mixture through 10-15 pulses in a food processor. The texture should be about the same as a tapenade. If you pulse it too smooth, it turns into sausage filling. You want it to remain chunky so it keeps the meaty, chewy texture of the bacon, but can be spread.
A bacon-infused liquor is a novelty. It's not something you'll probably drink regularly, but its perfect for making up cocktails for a party. With that in mind, I set out to make bacon vodka and bacon bourbon for a New Year's Day brunch I was planning.
For both, I tried the "fat washing" method. This is where you mix bacon grease into the alcoholic beverage in the belief that many of the fat-soluble flavor compounds are also alcohol-soluble and will transfer. Give them some time to transfer flavor, then strain out the fat. While most of the infusion recipes suggested putting slices of cooked bacon in a jar of alcohol and storing it in a dark cool place for a week or two, the fat washing recipes said to pour the fat in, let it sit a few hours, freeze to solidify the fat, and strain.
First I tried the bourbon and followed a recipe I'd seen that said to wash it for 4 hours, then freeze for 90 minutes. It also mentioned that keeping it at a slightly elevated temperature would help the fat get the most contact with the alcohol.
I tried this with a fifth of Jim Beam and 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from my bacon jar (yes, I save bacon grease in a jar for cooking), that turned out to be about 2 ounces when warmed up. I stirred it in with a spoon and let the booze and grease have 4 hours together, repeatedly giving the jar warm/hot water baths and occasionally shaking it. I froze it for 90 minutes, strained off the fat, and made a bourbon old fashioned (2 oz bourbon, 1 tsp maple syrup, 2 dashes bitters).
I'd read that the bacon flavor wouldn't hit you up front, but come in as a smoky note on the back end. It did that on the first sip, but then the bacon flavor dwindled and it just tasted like bourbon and maple syrup. In a later taste of the bourbon, I didn't get much bacon at all.
So, for the bacon vodka, I went "whole hog" (please excuse the pun). I oven baked a pound of Cloverfield hickory smoked bacon...
- line a baking pan with foil
- line that with bacon
- set oven to 400 degrees
- put bacon in while the oven preheats
- cook 20-30 minutes until done to your liking
Starting the bacon off in a cold pan in a cold oven ensures you'll render the maximum amount of fat.
After the bacon was cooked, I drained off the hot fat (about 2.5 ounces) and whisked it into my room-temperature Vodka, then sealed the jar. Periodically I would heat the mixture via either a hot water bath or 40 seconds in the microwave, then give it a good stirring with the whisk. But instead of letting it sit for 4 hours, I let it sit for 26, and I let it freeze overnight. The vodka that was produced had a much more pronounced bacon flavor and smell. This is what I expected bacon vodka to taste and smell like.
So, if you're planning to fat wash some booze, here are my tips.
- Use fresh cooked bacon fat right from the oven.
- Use the renderings from a pound of bacon per 750 ml of liquor
- Whisk the fat and booze together rather than stirring.
- Periodically warm and re-whisk
- Let it sit at least 24 hours before freezing
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My son has been disappointed recently because I have decided to boycott Taco Time. Think of it as if you created a Mexican restaurant and applied a Northwestern Scandinavian sensibility to its food. We're not talking Lutefisk tacos, but the food is just sort of boring. That's not why I'm boycotting it though. I'm boycotting it because their drive through is the slowest I've ever encountered, and despite the extra time, they have a tendency to get my order wrong. Last time, they gave me a chicken taco salad instead of a beef taco salad, and their chicken is disgusting. It tastes like it's warmed-over canned chicken and it's just terrible. I'm just done with them.
The one thing was, instead of potato chunks (like Taco Bell) or french fries (like just about everywhere else), they served tater tots (calling them "Mexi Fries"), and my older boy loved to get a kid-size quesadilla and tater tots from them. Since he could no longer have Taco Time tater tots, I thought I'd console him by trying my hand at a recipe I'd only heard of in hushed whispers, a dish that can drive a cardiologist to acts of violence... Tater Tot Casserole. It's the holy grail of fat and starch, and I was pretty sure my kid would love it.
Here are the components:
2.5 quart covered casserole dish
2 lb. bag of frozen tater tots
10 ounce can of condensed cream of potato soup
16 ounce tub of sour cream
6 oz can of french fried onions
2 cups of shredded cheese (packed)
3 bun length hotdogs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Put the oil in the casserole dish and use a paper towel to spread it around the bottom and sides of the dish.
Quarter the hotdogs lengthwise and dice into 1/4 inch bits.
In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, soup, half the cheese, half the fried onions, the salt, the pepper, the onion powder, the rosemary, and the hotdog bits.
Create a single layer of tater tots in the bottom of the casserole, laying them lengthwise, and try to fit in as many as you can. Spoon the sour cream mixture over that, creating a fairly even layer.
Cover the sour cream layer with the remaining tots and press them in gently. Cover the tots with the remaining cheese in an even layer. Cover the cheese with the remaining french fried onions in an even layer.
Cover the casserole with its lid and put it in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and let bake for another 10 or so minutes to gently brown the french fried onions on top.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve. It's best if you mash all the bits together once it's on the plate so all the flavors get distributed around. It also stands up well to reheating in the microwave.
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My birthday is coming up, so as part of my birthday present, my wife found a parent-child cooking class through one of the local parks and recreation departments and reserved places in it for me and my older boy (who is 4.5). We told him that he was taking me to the class as his birthday present to me.
When I got there, the class instructor was shocked and joyed to have a "daddy" there. Seems men at these classes are a rare and wonderful thing. Out of 9 parents there, I was the only man, and my son was one of two boys out of ten kids. We had some food related games and then the kids helped spread pepperoni and cheese on a class pizza to eat there, then used various items to turn two pieces of naan into "pizza faces" while the class pizza cooked. We took the pizza faces home and cooked them for lunch afterward.
They put out chopped red cabbage for hair, but they also put out big leaves of basil for ears. I borrowed a knife from the instructor's assistant and cut some basil into strips to use as hair. Much cooler... and more flavorful.
Tonight, I defrosted some pork chops and let my son help me do some of the prep work. They're the super-thick chops you get at Costco, so I butterflied them into a more manageable thickness, then he helped me scoop spices to make a dry rub.
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 rounded tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
I sprinkled the rub onto the chops to make sure he didn't spill it all over or dump half the mix on one chop, but he helped me pat it into the meat. Then we washed our hands, covered the plate with plastic wrap, and let the rub do its magic in the fridge for 45 minutes.
I fried the chops in just enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan. I saw a thing on "America's Test Kitchen" where they said the secret to juicy pork chops it to cook them over lower heat. Bringing them up to the doneness you desire more slowly wrings less of the natural moisture out of them. I've found it works.
And doing it with my rub and some butter leaves this mixture of butter, sugar, pork fat, and just a little bit of pork juices in the pan that's a perfect medium for cooking up a couple of sliced onions while you let the chops rest. I defrosted and drained some frozen chopped spinach, then threw it in with the onions at the end to warm.
Served the chops on a bed of the onion/spinach mixture with a squeeze of lime. Mmmm. This is the second time I've done this rub on pork chops and my wife tells me it's a keeper. The boy likes it too and he likes being a part of the process.