Bacon JamSteven Raichlen
Tulsa, Oklahoma may not top your must-visit travel list, but this lively oil town boasts a terrific Woody Guthrie museum, a fine are museum (the Philbrook), a monumental piece of folk art (the Golden Driller, a three-story tall statue of an oil man), a singular grill manufacturer (Hasty Bake), and enough great barbecue joints to keep you sated for a week. What I remember most from a recent visit was one of the coolest uses I’ve ever found for bacon: the bacon jam served at Smoke Woodfire Grill. Smoke chef-owner Erik Reynolds brings a tweezers sensibility to traditional Oklahoma bacon. He cures and smokes his own bacon, and developed the jam as a way to take advantage of all the smoky trimmings. If you can’t make your own, use a good artisanal bacon, like Nueske’s.
- Yield: Makes 3 cups
- 1 pound bacon, thinly slivered crosswise
- 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark—your choice)
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- Tabasco sauce, or your favorite hot sauce, to taste
Step 1: Place the bacon in a large cold cast-iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Work in several batches, as needed.
Step 2: Transfer the bacon to a colander set in a heatproof bowl and drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat. (Reserve the remaining bacon fat for later use).
Step 3: Return the skillet to the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook until lightly browned, 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Step 4: Return the bacon to the pan along with the coffee, vinegar, syrup, molasses, brown sugar, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir well and gradually bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and gently simmer the mixture, uncovered, until thick and syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often.
Step 5: For a chunky jam, use as is. For a smoother jam, puree the ingredients in a food processor, running the machine in short bursts.
Step 6: Serve the bacon jam at once, either warm or at room temperature. Or transfer to a jar, cover, and cool to room temperature. The jam will keep refrigerated for at least 3 days, but for the best results, let it warm to room temperature before serving.
Try this: Stuff Bacon Jam into a pork chop (cut a pocket in the side) or spoon it over grilled burgers or salmon steaks. It revolutionizes a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s even pretty awesome eaten straight off the spoon.
Tip: For an extra kick, add a shot of bourbon.
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