Cranberry Sauce Bacon Jam

Okay all you serious foodies out there.  You know who you are.  This one is for you.  Who isn’t in love with bacon jam?  I know I am.  I’ve been thinking about bacon jam….a lot.  I wondered how I could incorporate this favorite condiment into the traditional holiday menu.   And then I had an ‘aha’ moment!   Cranberry sauce bacon jam.  Makes perfect sense right?
This recipe starts with a really flavorful cranberry sauce cooked with port wine and orange zest.    I cook it a bit longer than a regular cranberry sauce because I want to achieve a smoother consistency so all those berries need to burst open.   And I added more liquids to help with the pureeing process.  Then, I make separate bacon jam that starts with caramelizing the onions and shallots in bacon fat and then adding in a balance of vinegar and sweetness with brown sugar and maple syrup.   It’s the perfect condiment for Thanksgiving leftovers.  A turkey sandwich with cream cheese is fine but with cream cheese and cranberry bacon jam?  Well you might as well just skip the meal and go straight to leftovers.  And the best part?  This doesn’t need to be made on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s a do-ahead, which makes it even better because don’t you have enough to do on Thanksgiving?  So make it 3-4 days ahead of time and store well in the fridge and just gently reheat.  It’s a great item to have on hand for the Christmas season, too.  This with a little cream cheese on crackers and you have a fantastic appetizer.

Cranberry Sauce

  1. Bring to a boil in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan and then reduce to a simmer over medium low. Because you are making more of jam and not a chunky cranberry sauce you need to let the berries cook longer, until most of the berries have burst and the liquid is a jam-like consistency.  Approximately 35 minutes.
  2.  Allow to cool slightly and then add to a blender or food processor along with final ¼ cup of water.  Puree until smooth.  It will look like more of a puree than a jam at this point.
  3. Add back to the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low heat.  Let the mixture cook down and thicken, stirring occasionally.  It should reduce by about ½ and takes about another 30 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate until ready to mix with the bacon jam.  This step can be done ahead up to 3 days.

Bacon Jam

  1. In a large heavy bottomed skillet brown the bacon low and slow until crisp.  About 25 minutes.  Remove from pan and let drain and cool on paper towels.  Remove excess bacon fat from the pan until about 2 tablespoons remain.
  2. Over medium to medium low heat slowly caramelize the onions and shallots in the bacon fat for about 15 minutes, as they are browning add in the rosemary.  Cook another 10 minutes and remove from heat.  Roughly chop the mixture and return to the pan.
  3. Add in the brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, water, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Stir and then cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sugars dissolved and are mostly absorbed into the onions and the mixture is a syrupy consistency.  Be sure to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add back in the bacon, coarsely crumbled, back into the onion mixture.  Discard any fatty pieces. Add the cranberry sauce to the bacon jam and refrigerate until ready to use.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary if desired.
Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz bag of cranberries

1 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 2 naval oranges

3/4 cups port

3/4 cup water divided into ½ cup and ¼ cup

Pinch of salt

Bacon Jam
10 slices of thick-cut Bacon cut into ½ inch pieces

1 medium yellow onion cut in half and sliced thinly

2   shallot bulbs, sliced

2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary

½ cup dark Brown sugar

¼ cup real Maple syrup

¼ cup White Balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup water      

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

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