Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cooking in the Key of B

Happy New Year to you all!  Today I'm cooking up a storm, with a gorgeous Boeuf Bourguignon in the slow cooker, and simmering Bacon jam on the stove top in a new Swiss Diamond pan that was a gift from a friend, and to get myself into more trouble I've made the dough for 'Bama Cheese Straws.

Before Christmas I had enough time to bake, and make some interesting meals, but today, with the temperatures lower than normal for San Diego, a rich wine soaked beef stew with Boursin mashed potatoes, and crisp green beans dressed with extra virgin olive oil just sounded right.
The Bacon jam is a result of lusting after the right recipe, and then tossing caution to the wind, and developing my own.  I've had friends who've made Bacon jam but I never had enough bacon in the house to make a batch---caution, it's addictive and doesn't make a whole heck of a lot!  After a trip to Siesels' meats last week, I bought a pound of Berkshire bacon and it was worth it!
Several months ago I had a grilled Brie and Granny Smith apple sandwich with bacon jam and it was sublime.  I think you could use this jam on anything!

Bacon Jam
Makes about 1 cup

One pound good quality bacon (I'd advise not using any flavored bacon, like Maple, or even apple wood smoked) cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar *see note
3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar ** see note
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper

In a large non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium high heat, until it is crisp. 

 Transfer the contents of the skillet to a colander set over a bowl to catch the bacon drippings.  
Return the drained bacon to the skillet (there will still be a bit of drippings clinging to the bacon)
Add the onion and garlic, an saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Add the sugar, maple syrup, coffee, vinegars, bay leaf and pepper.  
Cover and simmer for 1 hour over medium low heat (the liquid in the pan should bubble slowly), until the mixture is thickened.   
 Taste for seasoning during the cooking time and add additional sugar, or vinegar to achieve a good balance. 
Cool completely, remove the bay leaf  and process in the food processor until desired consistency.  The jam keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 

Note on Balsamic vinegar:  I used B.R. Cohn 25 year old Balsamic vinegar---use a good quality vinegar here---most supermarket Balsamic vinegars are red wine vinegar, caramel color and sugar, boiled down--these don't achieve that lovely balance that a more expensive vinegar will.

Note on Sherry vinegar:  Sherry vinegar adds zest, and flavor here, if you don't have it, use apple cider vinegar.      
Enjoy the rest of your week and Happy New Year!    


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