Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In Your Kitchen: Bacon Jam

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In Your Kitchen: Bacon Jam

Article excerpt

We're now a long way from the days when if you wanted food or drink that was delicious, wholesome and not mass-produced, you had to make it yourself. With the mushrooming of the artisanal food movement, everything from pickles to potato chips is being painstakingly handcrafted by small-batch producers - and sold for a premium price, of course. The movement has also given rise to a new generation of home hobbyists, inspired - perhaps in part by food TV - to try their hands at culinary DIY. If we're not doing it ourselves, most of us know at least one passionate amateur beer brewer, bread baker, cheese maker or backyard beekeeper, spending weekends tinkering in the kitchen and delighting friends with homemade holiday gifts.

There are plenty of how-to books on individual DIY kitchen subjects, such as pickling, jam or sausage making. America's Test Kitchen has once again brought everything together in one volume, the softcover "d.i.y. cookbook", subtitled "can it, cure it, churn it, brew it: 100+ foolproof kitchen projects for the adventurous home cook." ATK tests and retests each recipe, so you can be confident that your "adventures" will work - as opposed to starting out with Aunt Sadie's handwritten instructions for her prize- winning pickles, unaware that she wrote down the wrong amount of salt. Just a few of the 100: harissa; pickled watermelon rind; fresh goat cheese; tofu; duck prosciutto; graham crackers; tonic water; America's Test Kitchen IPA. There's even a recipe for homemade American cheese, for those perfectly melty grilled cheese sandwiches without the nasty additives.

This is the time when I generally start thinking about the food gifts I want to make for the holidays. "d.i.y." has given me some new ideas for this year, including the salt/sweet/spicy bacon jam on the next page. Like many of the book's recipes, it's not at all difficult. Packaged with a wedge of "stinky" cheese and maybe even some homemade crackers (the book has recipes for those, too), it will make an unusual treat to serve with holiday cocktails.

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1 pound thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion, halved and sliced thin

1 shallot, minced

5 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup brewed coffee

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup real maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon chili powder

Place bacon in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 20 minutes. …

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