A dreary, rainy Monday here in NYC seems like as good a day as any for a grilled cheese sandwich. But not any old grilled cheese, we’re talking bacon jam grilled cheese.
What’s better than bacon? Bacon jam. And what’s better than bacon jam? A grilled cheese sandwich with bacon jam, my guilty pleasure and soon to be yours. Trust me on this one.
Bacon jam is essentially bacon cooked slowly with onions, vinegar, sweetener, and spices until, well, jammy. Bacon jam is an ideal combination of smoky, salty, and sweet (and slightly spicy, with the addition of a pinch of cayenne pepper). When making bacon jam, don’t rush it; you want the onions to become deeply browned and caramelized. This takes time.
I used smoked bacon, the smokier the better in my book. As for the sweetener, you can use dark brown sugar or, for a more complex flavor, a combination of maple syrup and brown suar. I added coffee as well. In place of coffee, you could use bourbon or a favorite porter or a stout (perhaps a coffee stout?).
From there, bacon jam’s uses are limited only by your imagination. Substitute bacon jam for anything that calls for bacon, for example a BLT; add it to liven up a stir-fry, chili, chowder, rice, eggs, waffles; use it as a hamburger topping, a pizza topping, or even as an ice cream topping.
Want to win over friends, a jar of bacon jam would be a memorable gift.

So what makes for a good grilled cheese sandwich (besides bacon jam)? You’ll need a melty cheese, perhaps a young fontina, cheddar, gruyere, Taleggio, gouda, or some combination thereof.Nothing aged or too dry; otherwise, the cheese won’t melt well. Next the bread. I’m partial to a nice sourdough, but any thinly sliced, white-style bread will work. And lastly, you need a good slathering of butter to get the bread to yield a crispy browned crust.

For the bacon jam you’ll need bacon, the smokiest you can find, onions, garlic, brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of cayenne.

Bacon Jam

Makes 3 cups
1 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (or 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1/4 balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup freshly brewed (strong) coffee
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet, 10 to 12 minutes, until it starts to crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to drain the bacon fat), add the onions, shallot, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, coffee, ½ cup of water, and reserved bacon. Add a pinch of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, 50 to 60 minutes, until the onions are well caramelized. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more water.

Cool and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse a few times until thick and chunky. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

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4 comments

Reply

Um, woah. That thick, crispy bread. The gooey cheese. The rich bacon jam. Cannot. Stop. DROOLING! I can't wait to try this out!

Reply

Um, woah. That thick, crispy bread. The gooey cheese. The rich bacon jam. Cannot. Stop. DROOLING! I can't wait to try this out!

Reply

Wow, this looks so mouth-watering!! Love that bacon jam recipe!

Reply

Wow, this looks so mouth-watering!! Love that bacon jam recipe!

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