Wassail Bacon Jam

Its beginning to smell a lot like bacon, every where you go… Ok so I’ve been singing that to the tune of “its beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Its been 2 or 3 days and I’m still absolutely mesmerized and fascinated by this creation. I’ve probably gained 10 pounds, but seriously I’m smearing it on everything. I first saw bacon jam on Top Chef Season 6, Kevin Gillespie an adorable red bearded chef from Georgia made this bacon schmear, …with some other stuff. It was a “you had me at hello moment” I really don’t remember what else was there. It wasn’t quite this type of product but I loved his presence on the season because well, honestly I’m a fan of anyone who loves bacon and all things oink. The version he made was made in about an hour and puree’d smooth, then baked further to condense it I guess? So THEN, wait for it… THEN I saw skillet street food on cooking channel’s FoodCrafters. Ironically enough I believe they featured a meadery in Chicago as well. It was truly just love at first sight, which inspired this happy marriage. Mead and bacon. I mean really, I sat there almost paralyzed with amusement. As any of my frequent followers know I’m a huge fan of mead and all things home brewing. I make my own wines and beer but I primarily produce meads. Its a hobby of mine and I truly appreciate re-creating long lost delicacies. Although its not real hard to make your own home brewed goods its really great stuff. I also kind of like just slamming down my mug and screaming WASSAIL! (be in good health)

The skillet street food bacon jam recipe looked really awesome, its sold on their website as well as on amazon. I’m guilty of not actually trying it myself however I could not avoid making it myself ASAP. It was burned into my brain and I just had to. So I looked up recipes and was pretty well, what I found looked like good recipes that could stand on their own in a different category, however it did not look at all like what I saw from Skillet. I wanted to make a version that seemed true to the recipe that inspired me to make this in the first place, without too much alteration. So I just kind of winged it, I put my own stamp on the concept in numerous ways one: I used mead, 2 cups of mead worked wonders instead of using water it adds a great rich flavor that cuts the richness from the fatty bacon, I used balsamic vinegar as they use at skillet, and last but not least I cooked it for almost 4 hours. The last thing I could not wrap my head around was …how do you can bacon jam without giving your friends and family lock jaw? I’ve never had luck with canning anything with meat or dairy in it , probably because I don’t have a pressure cooker/canner so I just said forget it I’ll stash it in the fridge/freezer. If you happen to have a pressure cooker by all means place it in jars and follow the manufacturers directions. Usually about an hour, but absolutely do not take my word for it.
So from the mead hall to the oinkery, we have this delicious spreadable bacon. The flavors caramelize perfectly and puree’d almost smooth its a real treat. I’ll have to give the original a try sometime but in the meantime I’m absolutely thrilled with this bacon jam recipe. Its a smooth and rich delight, I love it on soft and dark pumpernickel with a bit of cream cheese. Although Stephen keeps jesting that I’m a fat arse and refuses to touch the stuff, my kids actually loved it. Which was kind of surprising but in all honesty I’ve never been so happy to see my kids fight. (over the bacon jam sandwich). It really could have been a huge failure, instead I’m putting it in ranch dressing and even on that pizza I finally broke down and got from the take-out. Its truly out of this world, outrageously phenomenal. Nothing says holiday cheer like a jar of spreadable sweet bacon, and expandable sweatpants. 

Wassail Bacon Jam:

Long simmered, Spreadable bacon puree made with traditional sack style mead and various seasonings. I used a regular bacon, nothing special. If you can find good quality smoked it will work best if not use liquid smoke as I did.

1 pound decent quality bacon (smoked preferably) 
2 small onions sliced 
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon plain prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons garlic powder
black pepper, salt if needed bacon is usually fairly salty. 
*1-2 cups mead, lager or chicken stock. I used 2 cups of a traditional sack mead, sack mead is a mead thats got a bit of a higher alcohol content due to the amount of honey used. Around 13-16%. If you do not have mead or do not want to try it you could use a lager or chicken stock.  
Standard Sack Mead, I have it on tap because I home brew it myself. If you are unable to find mead you could use a lager or stock, water if necessary however I think it adds flavor as it reduces. 
  • In a heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven saute the bacon until its just starting to crisp. Remove from the pan and cook the onion 2-4 minutes. Place all remaining ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours. Stirring to prevent burning or sticking. 

After cooking the bacon and onion, just dump in everything else.

  • After 2 hours raise the heat to medium or medium low. Stir as needed and continue to cook for another hour to hour and a half. Add liquid as needed to prevent burning but you do want the flavors to condense and the liquid to reduce. I left mine on the stove a total of 4 hours. After 3 1/2 hours I turned the heat off. 
  • Once cooled puree until its your desired consistency. I gave mine about 10 pulses. For a spreadable mixture you do want it to be somewhat smooth and less chunky. 
This is perfect for burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and salad dressings. Its pretty multi-functional. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer until needed. Best if warmed up slightly before used.