I attended a grand, Southern wedding this fall with a buffet selection to make a bacon lover weak in the knees. There were four rooms of buffet tables and every single dish involved bacon. Candied bacon, peppered bacon, bacon wrapped potatoes, bacon mac & cheese, bacon shrimp and grits, and even the vegetable dishes were cooked in bacon grease. I think I even heard some guests squeal. All that food posed a predicament though. So much deliciousness and not enough stomach space.
My husband and I must have eaten a pound of bacon each that night. I don’t recommend this. We felt less than optimal the next day and we didn’t have one sip of alcohol. How do you say no to bacon though?! It’s nearly impossible.
I believe in real bacon. None of that sorry imitation turkey stuff. Thick, juicy pork fat. Bacon from happy hogs is preferable too, pastured pigs raised humanely in a natural environment.
The bacon feast inspired me to take the fatty meat to a new level. Balsamic Bacon Fig Jam was born.
4 pieces thick bacon
4 cups of onions – chopped
1 tsp salt
7 fresh figs – chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
½ tsp fresh rosemary or 1 large sprig
¼ cup water
1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
►Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and cook bacon until crispy, about 10 minutes. Move bacon to a cooling rack and let the grease drip off into a bowl. Pour ¾ of the bacon grease from pan and leave the rest. Reserve the extra grease for other cooking.
►Sauté the onions in bacon grease over medium heat. Sprinkle in the salt, cooking until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in figs, maple syrup, black pepper, cayenne and rosemary.
►Once bacon has cooled, chop into small pieces. Add to the pot with water and stir together. Cook for 10-15 minutes until a thick, jam consistency forms.
►Remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
►Keep refrigerated in a glass mason jar. Serve as an appetizer with fresh chopped veggies or as an accompaniment to pork, chicken or eggs.
*Recipe loosely based on Chef John’s Bacon Jam.