Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bottoms Up

Despite my absolute best efforts to delay their stay at least a day longer, my family left for home on Friday.  It was so wonderful to have them and I only wish the weather had not waited until the very day of their departure to be pleasant.  Such is life in Southern Illinois, no?  Hopefully the next time the weather will be more accommodating, as we all decided Giant City Park needs further exploration.

Of the three things I said I would accomplish last week, only two were finished and only one last week.  Alas, the coconut cream pie is still not within my repertoire.  A remedy to take place another time.  Currently, I'm having somewhat of a fascination with using bourbon in recipes.

The bacon and bourbon jam was finished, but not until yesterday.  The recipe I started with was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  Of course, given my inability to totally follow a recipe as written, I made my own changes as well.  None of the recipes I've found actually process the jam, but to do so would definitely require the pressure cooker and I'm not sure what that would do to the texture.  So for the meantime, I'll be content to refrigerate it as it doesn't make that much anyway and I doubt it's going to last long enough to go the the trouble. 
Crunchy, bacony goodness.

Although the recipe said it made
three cups, I managed two
of these half-pint jars.
Thus far I've found the jam to be quite tasty with grilled hamburgers and pretty good on crackers with goat cheese.  My taste buds are telling me that perhaps smoked gouda would be even better than the goat cheese.  I am feeling a need to test that theory.

I also happened across yet another recipe for bacon and bourbon jam that sounds rather interesting (a little more spicy) which may be on the radar for the future.  But before that, I have a recipe for bourbon and brown sugar pound cake that needs testing.  And before that, some friends coming for lunch today.  I don't think I'll involve any bourbon in that.

Bacon Bourbon Jam
Makes about a pint.
1 1/2 lbs thick cut apple wood smoked bacon, diced
1 large red onion, diced (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs packed brown sugar
2 Tbs molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
6 Tbs strong brewed coffee
7 Tbs bourbon, divided (6 + 1)

Brown the bacon in batches over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crisp.  Remove each batch of bacon with a slotted spoon or spatula to a colander set over a plate to drain.
Pour off all but one or two tablespoons of fat from the skillet.  Don’t worry about the bottom of the skillet being totally black.  Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and translucent, about five minutes.  Add vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, coffee, and six tablespoons of the bourbon.  Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring and scraping the blackened bits from bottom of skillet with wooden spoon.  Add the bacon and stir to combine.
Transfer mixture to a six-quart slow-cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid has reduced and thickened slightly and bacon is a deep burnished brown, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.   (Of note, my slow-cooker tends to run a bit warm.  I cooked on high for 2 hours and then low for 2 hours.)
Allow the jam to cool to room temperature.  Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and add the remaining tablespoon of bourbon.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.   Spoon into jars and cover tightly.  Keep refrigerated for 2 – 3 weeks.