Friday, June 1, 2012

Hot or Not: Apricot Bacon Jam

Apricots, bacon and peppers, oh, my!
I found these lovely apricots in the market a week ago. They're newly in season, and it's about the only time of year they are delicious as they don't travel so well from too far away.  Wanted to do a blog post on grilling them for the Memorial Day weekend. Stuff happens and the apricots, half of them now too soft to grill, are still sitting in my fruit bowl. I figured I'd just turn them into a bit of jam for our breakfasts for the next few days and hit some of my favorite blogs for inspiration. While I was reading through Lisa Fain's take on apricot jam, on her blog Homesick Texan, I also saw a link at the bottom of her page to the recipe for her famous Bacon Jam, and a little switch went off in my brain. Apricot Bacon Jam. Why not? God knows I always have enough bacon in my freezer to feed a platoon.

This isn't a traditional spread-on-toast sort of jam, this is more of a condiment or a chutney, good on bread, crackers, with cheese, with beer...and will be divine on the turkey breast sandwich I'm taking with me to work tonight. Actually, I think I may also have some tomorrow, spread on toast, with scrambled eggs for breakfast. So much for this not being a breakfast jam.

Just a little snack before lunch.
Notes:  Hot or not is your pick, although I suggest using just half of a seeded jalapeno pepper if you don't want any obvious heat. If you want hot, leave in the seeds, and use up to 2, although if they are as hot as the current batch at my market, I think that would overpower the other flavors and suggest sticking to one pepper, seeded and minced. If you can get double smoked bacon, you could cut back on the smoked paprika to keep it from being too smokey.

Apricot Bacon Jam, Hot or Not
Makes about 3 cups

8 oz. smoky sliced bacon, in 1/2" bits
1 large yellow onion, 1/4" dice
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, in 1/4 " dice
2-3 big garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 lb. fresh apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 sprigs thyme, bundled with butchers twine
1-2 big, hot Jalapeno peppers, minced (see note)
1 Tblsp kosher salt
2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

Place the bacon in an unheated, shallow, deep pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Slowly render out the fat and cook the bacon until it is nice and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a bowl and set aside. Remove all but about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan and discard, (or set aside for other cooking).

Add the bell pepper, the onion and garlic to the hot bacon fat and stir well, and cook until the vegetables have begun to soften and the onions are starting to look golden. Add everything else, including the cooked bacon and stir well. Bring up to a gentle boil, and cook until the jam will mound on a spoon. Let cool slightly, spoon into jars or a bowl and chill.

Will keep about 2 weeks covered and refrigerated.

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