Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spicy Bacon Jam || Road to the Grilled Cheese Invitational

Bacon Jam whaaaaat?  As you can imagine, what with me being a Bacon Aficionado (I was trying to go with an alliteration, but couldn't think of a clever synonym that started with B) the moment that the amazing Lorraine Elliott of Not Quite Nigella posted her recipe, my inbox was flooded.

But Niki, that was way back in 2009.  Why have you been slacking up till now?

Because. Nope, I really have no good excuse.  I've been wanting to test this out for quite a while, and I finally whittled out a little time in my calendar to give it a go... especially since we're nearing the Grilled Cheese Invitational and I need to start taste testing my sexy grills to come up with the winning combination.  Forcing myself to include a variation on Not Quite Nigella's Bacon Jam in my sammie was the perfect way to start testing & experimenting!

Wait, back up a second... Grilled Cheese Invitational??? Why yes!  Me & the BF are rolling up our sleeves and slathering down some butter, cheese & toasty bread next Saturday April 23rd.  It'll be in your Weekend Dockets for sure, but in case you're the type who needs more than a day's notice, HERE IT IS.  Buy your tickets now!
The Grilled Cheese Invitational (GCI) is the largest, craziest, and most exciting Grilled Cheese cooking contest in the country and is the best thing to happen to sliced cheese since sliced bread! The GCI promotes an almost scary pursuit of perfection in a Grilled Cheese Sammich and allows for amateur and professional chefs to compete side-by-side in the hopes of becoming a true Grilled Cheese Champion.

The event was created by Tim Walker in 2003, in an artist loft in Downtown Los Angeles as a competition between friends and since then, has grown into a national movement dedicated to perfecting the art of grilled cheese, with thousands of cheese fiends and regional competitions across the country.
Spicy Bacon Jam
Adapted from an Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella

  • 1 pound of Trader Joe's Applewood Smoked Bacon (I'm obsessed)
  • 1 head of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium brown onion sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of tabasco
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of black pepper
  • extra water

1. In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a pair of scissors cut into 1 inch pieces.

2. Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.  Add back in the bacon into what I'm now calling the "Devil's Mirepoix: 1 lb bacon, 1 head of garlic, 1 white onion" a base that I know will make it into several more recipes down the road.

3. Then, transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and keep stirring.  If you're water is evaporating too quickly, reduce your heat and make sure not to burn your mixture.

4. When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam” and enjoy!

Thoughts after the first round?  The spice added a very nice and complex element to the after-taste of the jam, but I think in the next trial I'd like to start with a mixture of regular & roasted garlic to add a little more sweetness, and substitute in balsamic for the vinegar to see how that affects things.  Could be good, could be bad, but I'll never know until I try!


  1. On the spicy bacon jam can you use honey instead of maple?? http://virginiabeachcakes.com

  2. I don't see why not? It didn't really add much in terms of thickening to the jam, it was more for a nice sweet flavor. I think maple is more traditionally paired with bacon, but I could see honey working nicely! Let me know how it goes!!


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