Pitmaster Bill Gillespie’s barbecue team was named Grand Champion of the prestigious American Royal Barbecue Invitational, so you can assume he knows a thing or two about smoked pork. Bacon, in particular, as it turns out, in The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook. It’s time to make the best bacon jam on the planet.
Bacon jam is one of the condiments that adds magnificent flavor to just about any dish you make — from soups and stews to burger toppings, which is one of my favorites. This recipe is easy to make and super-delicious. The balsamic vinegar brings this to the next level, slamming your taste buds in bacony bliss.
- 8 thick slices apple-smoked cured pork belly or other bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup water, plus a splash
- 1/3 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the jam
Fire up your charcoal grill for direct-heat cooking. Simply light the charcoal using a charcoal chimney, and dump the hot coals into the grill. Create a uniform layer of charcoal and cook your food directly above the heat source.
Heat a large cast-iron sauté pan (use one that has a cover, or use heavy-duty aluminum foil if no cover can be found). Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned but not crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel. Drain off all but ¼ cup (60 ml) of the bacon grease and then stir in the onion, about ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cover the pan and cook the onions for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and add in a splash of water, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Continue to cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and lightly browned.
After the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, mustard and remaining ⅓ cup (80 ml) water, and then return the bacon to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens and is almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. At this point, the jam can be covered and refrigerated (you can make it up to 2 days in advance). If using immediately, set it aside in a bowl until ready to use.