bringing home the bacon

Too much bacon. Is there such a thing? I’ll go with yes, as this cured and salted pork deliciousness is everywhere. Every. Where. While much of what you’ll find is amazing (bacon chocolate? bacon waffles? bacon ice cream? bacon bourbon? I say yes times four.), there are some combinations that just seem wrong. (Talking to you bacon bubble gum, bacon bikini, bacon band-aids.)

That said, I hopped on the bacon bandwagon today after reading Words Become Superfluous. Amb’s mention of bacon (dipped in chocolate!) inspired me to tackle a project that’s long been on my to-do list.

I’d first seen bacon jam on a Cooking Channel show featuring Skillet Street Food, one of Seattle’s many phenomenal food trucks. Though I considered purchasing via mail order, it seemed spendy and I figured I could make it myself. It’s been over a year since then and recent mentions of bacon jam in articles I’ve read brought it all back.

I. Heart. Bacon Jam.

I. Heart. Bacon Jam.

Knowing I wanted bourbon in my bacon jam, I hunted down this recipe. Save the bacon, which I wasted no time in buying, I had everything on hand. Putting the jam together was easy enough, though a longer process as there was plenty of measuring and simmering involved.

starting the simmer

starting the simmer

cooking down

cooking down

 and down

and down

But all time spent was so worth it. I never dreamed I’d find a food I liked better than ice cream, but it seems Ben & Jerry’s has met its match. This bacon jam is out-of-this-world crazy good.

Spooning it straight from the jar is lovely, but spreading it on crackers, toast, bagels, waffles, etc gives it another layer of  flavor and texture. I’d stir it into ice cream, use it to frost a cupcake (suggestion given in one of the articles I read and while I laughed when I read it, I can see now that it would totally work), dollop it on a baked potato, spread it on pizza crust. This is mighty fine jam and methinks you need a jar in your refrigerator, too.pretty crqackers

My plan is to hold on to as much of the jam as possible for a get-together later this week. The jam will accompany DIY crackers, so am looking for recipes. (hint hint) If you can help me out here, please leave your recipe link in comments or circle back with a message at deLizious facebook. I hope to have a cracker story or two next week in this space. Until then, go get yourself a jar of bacon jam and a spoon and enjoy!

not-too-unhealthy cheese, bacon potato wedges

Not a football fan. If the Vikings hit the Super Bowl (unlikely), I’d root for the home team, but still don’t think I’d care overly much. Even the commercials often disappoint after all the hype. I hear you could even catch this year’s Super Bowl commercials online BEFORE the Super Bowl. Whas’ uuuuuup indeed.

But we talk food here, right? And since having kids, it’s been our family’s Super Bowl tradition to spread a plastic tablecloth on the living room floor and watch the game while we eat (relatively) unhealthy fare.

After hosting a big event Saturday night, I didn’t have much get-up-and-go as far as meal ideas for Super Bowl supper. Knowing I wanted to lean toward the carb/cheese/bacon end of the spectrum (tradition must be respected:-)), I microwaved two very large baking potatoes for about 6 minutes, then cut them into wedges. Spritzed with olive-oil cooking spray, they roasted at 425°F just until they started browning (8 minutes?). Next, they were sprinkled generously with shredded cheese and chopped bacon strips. (While heating the potato, I’d baked six or so bacon strips on a wire rack over a baking sheet, again at 425°F. This is The Best Way to Make Bacon–grease drips off onto the baking sheet and you pull the bacon at your preferred doneness, whether its just cooked through, deeply browned and crispy, any point in between.) I also microwaved frozen broccoli florets, which went over the potato wedges along with a handful of leftover caramelized onions. They roasted another 7ish minutes, then were served on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with grated Parmesan cheese (the kind from a can! only on Super Bowl Sunday;-)), a spoonful of full-fat sour cream, and toss of sliced ripe olives.

I’ll admit to being impressed with my hastily thought through and thrown together meal. It had the bacon, cheese, sour cream bit–potatoes, too–but I managed to get the greens in there as well. Served with root beer floats, we watched the game and helped the girls with eleventh-hour Sunday evening homework. Unstructured, casual, and just plain fun. Tomorrow we’ll sit at the dinner table and eat our well-balanced meal–no TV, no homework. But tonight we enjoyed breaking (multiple) family rules and it tasted good.

almost-potato skins

almost-potato skins

bacon + bourbon

Watching foodie TV (Foodography, the Cocktail episode) last night, I was intrigued by a mixologist who whipped up a batch of bacon bourbon. Both ingredients are favorites (as well as being extremely trendy right now), so I loved that someone thought to put them together. With molecular gastronomy all the rage, I envisioned bacon bourbon being a product of distillation involving beakers, siphons, gasses, and who knows what else. Wrong. It was a simple process involving only the two namesake ingredients–both of which I had on hand. I, too, could make bacon bourbon.

Rendered bacon fat was already on my counter, left over from another recipe. (Though it would have been easy enough to fry up a few strips of fresh bacon if needed.) The other ingredient–bourbon–has been a staple in my pantry since a trip to Kentucky last year. The process, called “fat washing” (lovely, yes?), is simply mixing hot bacon drippings with bourbon (1/3 cup drippings to 3 cups bourbon according to Bacon Today website), letting it cool, then refrigerating to solidify the fat. When chilled and separated, the larger fat chunks are removed. Finally, the bourbon is poured through a fine-mesh strainer to clarify. I also gave it a pass through cheesecloth as my fine-mesh strainer didn’t seem fine enough.

I can’t drink bourbon straight, and the same goes for this beverage. It boasts all of bourbon’s raw power and strength, but also adds a layer of not-so-subtle smokiness. Soda water and an orange rind would make good partners, as would maple syrup. I’ve also found a recipe for a Bacon Old-Fashioned I’d like to try. But for now, I’m happy just to have my bottle of homemade bacon bourbon sitting on my counter, catching the sunlight and promising a lovely and warming cocktail as fall eventually gives way to winter.

a beautifully golden and smoky spirit, perfectly suited for fall