How many people do you personally know that HATE bacon?
Not many, right? OK, yes, I’ve heard of “vegetarians”, but they don’t count. Not like they don’t count in life or anything… I mean, just for the sake of this discussion. Phew. I completely respect the vegetarian /vegan thing as I, myself was once an “almost vegetarian” a few years ago. I say “almost” because it lasted only 10 months, and in all honesty, I was craving bacon the whole time. Which maybe didn’t qualify me as a true vegetarian, but to a meat-eater for over 30 years, it really felt like such drastic lifestyle change.
Ironically, the switch in my culinary lifestyle happened about half way thru cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu, after watching a video introduction on my first day of butchery class. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Here I was paying thousands of dollars to get the best training and learn how to cook everything, and suddenly I had no desire to eat meat. It definitely impacted my culinary course as a student. And it really played with my mind, as I questioned what kind of a wussy chef would I be that was a little squeamish about butchering or even killing a lobster? It took a while for me to come to terms with the fact that it’s ok to be a little sensitive about my food sources, and also that with that view, I still can consider myself a foodie or chef.
As a result, I just started to appreciate vegetable cookery more and focused my attention to many overlooked vegetable ingredients. I developed a new personal style of cooking, and was happy with where it was headed… however after a few months I started to reminisce about my past life with bacon; and I realized I missed it in my life. Suddenly I noticed bacon popping up everywhere around me. Sometimes in unsuspecting places: bacon chocolate bars, bacon ice cream, bacon of the month club, bacon wrapped this and that, and even bacon vodka. Wow, people are really getting creative here. After 10 months of vegetarianism, I resigned and gave in to become a “bacon-tarian”- or one who makes bacon the 1 exception in their so called, “vegetarian
5 years later, I’m back on the meat train at 33%. Recently I spotted a jar of “bacon jam” the store, and thought “hey, what a great idea!” Quick flashback to remind me how once upon a time, my bags were packed and I was on the road heading towards Vegan-land, but then I was seduced by bacon.
Back to the bacon jam staring at me. It sounded really good, but for $15 a jar, I would rather make a fresh batch at home. With a little internet research, I found a few recipes. Interestingly, many of them had coffee in the recipe (which I ended up omitting, and it was fine.) I knew I wanted to combine “bacon jam” with another recipe from my friend, Shan, who makes this killer spicy, Asian, chile condiment. I just call it “Shan Sauce”. Basically it’s caramelized onions, garlic, and chile peppers, with a smattering of various Asian sauces. It always varies from time to time, depending on what ingredients she has lying around, but 2 things are for sure: it’s always delicious, and fiery as hell as it threatens to put your taste buds out of commission for the next few days. Not wanting to bust Shan’s “Ancient Chinese Secret” to the world- (and for the record, no, she doesn’t put dishwashing detergent in there) I adapted her recipe and came up with something a little different with my candied bacon chile jam.
With this recipe, you can make it as spicy or as mild as you prefer with any variety of peppers you like. It’s the perfect condiment that you can keep in the fridge and use to dress up so many dishes, giving it a little extra flavor kick. (On a side note, Elvis Presley used to fancy his peanut butter bacon sandwiches… I bet he would dig this bacon chile jam on his sammies.) Kind of bizarre, right? But I bet it works. As they say “everything is better with bacon”! I’m a firm believer. This jam is so tasty, I’m pretty sure it could make even a flip-flop taste delicious. huh? But for now, I’ll just officially endorse the following taste-tested, pairing suggestions… on top of eggs, sautéed brussel sprouts, potato soup, or burgers. Possibilities are endless.
So, what would be YOUR favorite bacon chile jam pairing?