We encounter a variety of fads every day, from the clothes we wear to work, the music we hear on our headphones, or the diet we stick to (Monday to Friday, of course). Like most trends, all of them have no strict permanence, but may be something we turn back to every now and then. This is my logic for holding onto so many things in my now overflowing closet.
Food fad categories are just like fashion. For instance, cupcakes (for some people) are considered “hot” but for others they are just like polyester and platforms: another trendy item that won’t be stylish for long. That group now identifies Macarons or Whoopee Pies as the dessert all the cool people will be eating. My opinion will always be rooted in my senses; how can something be a temporary fad if it tastes good all the time?
The most mind-boggling food fad is, by far, bacon. When was it an epiphany to a group of trendsetters that bacon was one of the most unbelievable meats available? Not only does it get an A+ for breakfast, but joined with lettuce and tomato you have a great lunch sandwich. For dinner, wrap it around asparagus or a pork loin and you’ve just created a fancy dish that will now taste one-hundred times better just because bacon is now in the picture. Analysts, chefs and culinary artists may tell you bacon is “so over”, but use your better judgment and your tastebuds on this one. To pay homage to my favorite pork product I spent a few hours cooking it down with other ingredients to make Bacon Jam. Believe me, I was as skeptical as you are but keep reading; I promise you, this is another recipe that highlights the staying power of bacon.
1 pound of bacon
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ cups of Coca Cola
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
A few dashes of hot sauce, to taste
¾ cups – 1 cup of water
In a Dutch Oven or medium stock pot, cook bacon in batches until just browned and a little crispy around the edges. Remove to paper towels to blot the grease. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, Coca Cola, vinegar, honey and hot sauce, mix thoroughly and bring to a simmer for about 2 hours. Stir often and add ¼ cup of water every 30 minutes, stirring well after each addition. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes. Drain grease (as best as possible) from the mixture and add to a food processor. Pulse for 2 or 3 seconds. Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator.
I realize for some people it will be difficult to get past the sweet or gelatinous ideas the word “jam” conjures. Though this recipe highlights bacons savory qualities with a complementing sweetness, the consistency is in no way that of a typical jam. Since it’s spreadable, though, I encourage you to put it on just about everything. I recommend draining some of the bacon grease before the onion and garlic is cooked; it’s a lot easier than trying not to sacrifice some of the finished product as you spoon bacon grease out of the pot before adding it to the food processor. Additionally, make sure you diligently stir the pot often; the saccharine properties of the brown sugar, soda and honey will encourage burning on the bottom of the pan otherwise.
Bacon Jam is the best of both salty and sweet, and can even be spicy if you want to be liberal with hot sauce. I would identify it more as a spread or condiment, and have topped it on poached eggs and shrimp and grits. My dream is to put it into ground beef mix and make burgers on the grill this summer, leaving everyone wondering exactly what the secret ingredient is that makes the meat so good. Something that tastes as unbelievable as bacon jam, which can be added to just about anything, that’s worth the few hours it takes to make definitely has staying power. This dish is the complete opposite of a trend: it’s a classic.