Several months ago, I connected with Erin, the mastermind behind foodiepages.com - an "online farmer's market" where you can "buy directly from Canada's best food producers, farmers and artisans". Erin had sent out a tweet looking for a new writers for the foodiepages blog, and since I was looking to add to my writing portfolio, I emailed her to express my interest.
What resulted from our emailed conversation is a monthly series of blog posts on the foodiepages blog called "The Missing Ingredient" in which I experiment with a new (to me) and generally lesser-known ingredient each month.
I was a little nervous when Erin first asked me to take this challenge on - being still relatively new in the kitchen, I'm much more comfortable with well-known ingredients and following recipes written by someone else. But I have to admit, I'm having a lot of fun trying to figure out what to do with the ingredients that Erin suggests for me and whenever she suggests the next ingredient, Paul and I always have a fun conversation about 1) where the heck are we going to find the ingredients and 2) what the heck are we going to make with it. Creating my own recipes is also a lot of fun, especially when they turn out edible!
I'll be sharing some of the recipes that I've created for "The Missing Ingredient" here on kitchen frolic, but if you want to see them all right now, you can head over to the foodiepages blog archives.
The Missing Ingredient Challenge: bacon jam
Although bacon is definitely not an unusual ingredient to anyone anymore - it's used so often, it's hard to find a meu item that doesn't have bacon on it - bacon jam was definitely a new challenge for me. Having never tried bacon jam before (I know, unbelievable, isn't it?), I had to do a little bit of research on the internet to come up with a better idea of what I was supposed to be creating.
After studying several different recipes and watching a couple of informative videos (thanks Google and Twitter friends!), I had a pretty good handle on what bacon jam consisted of and boldly came up with my version of bacon jam.
For bacon lovers, this smoky, sweet “bacon jam” is a real treat. It works well spread onto a crispy baguette slice, slathered onto your favourite burger or eaten straight out of the jar (yes, I totally did that!)
1 lb bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 small onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup brewed espresso
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (or you can use apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup Canadian maple syrup
In a deep, non-stick pan or pot, fry bacon over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Remove bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels.
Pour the remaining bacon grease out of the pot (reserve for another use if you like), but leave about 1 tablespoon of grease in the pot. Add onion and garlic to bacon grease in the pot and fry on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.
Add brown sugar, espresso, water, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup to onion and garlic and bring everything to a boil while stirring constantly. Once mixture starts to boil, add bacon back to the pot and stir until everything is combined.
Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The mixture will reduce to a sticky, slightly syrupy “jam”, however there will be a small amount of liquid remaining.
Remove the mixture from the slow cooker and either pulse in a food processor or with a hand blender until the “jam” is coarsely chopped (or pulse a little longer if you prefer a smoother texture).
Let cool completely before sealing the jam in airtight jars. Store in refrigerator for up to four weeks.
yields: approximately 2 cups