Recipe for bacon jam and cheese panini
In a million years, I never thought I'd write (or even think) these words: I love bacon jam. (Generations of my family are wringing their hands. I can't see them, but I know.) I don't eat a lot of bacon, I don't like fruit jams or jellies, and I don't have a sweet tooth, but bacon jam tastes more like chutney, a bit of sweet and a bit of salty, and makes a perfect pairing with cheese. The panini put me in mind of the ploughman's lunch served in every pub in Britain: cheese, chutney, crusty bread, and sometimes a sausage. I used small ciabatta rolls for instant portion control, because believe me, you can get carried away with this combination of jam and cheese, but any crusty bread will do.
Bacon jam and cheese panini
From the pantry, you'll need: bacon, onions, garlic, cider vinegar, brown sugar, pure maple syrup, coffee.
The original bacon jam recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, and calls for making it in a slow cooker. I wasn't thrilled with the results, but loved the ingredient mix, so I've adapted it for stovetop cooking. Makes slightly more than one pint.
1-1/2 lb sliced center cut hickory-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark; I prefer light)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed strong coffee
Line a platter with paper towels, and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven (I use a 5-quart size), cook the bacon over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to the platter and let it drain.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat (discard or save for another use). Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, maple syrup and coffee, and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up the bacon bits from the bottom of the pan. After 2 minutes, add the bacon, and stir to combine.
Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is burning. If the jam seems to be cooking too fast, add 1/4 cup of water every now and then. When the liquid is syrupy, remove the pot from the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then transfer contents to a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Let the jam cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
The jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks, though if your family is like mine, this jam has no hope of lasting that long. Not even close.
To make bacon jam and cheese panini:
Preheat a panini press, or heavy nonstick frying pan or stovetop griddle.
For each sandwich, you'll need 2 slices of bread, a teaspoon of olive oil, a few lettuce or arugula leaves (I use baby romaine), several slices of cheese (Italian fontina, Dutch gouda and brie are favorites), and a smear of bacon jam.
Assemble your panini: layer lettuce and cheese on one piece of bread, smear bacon jam on the other. Put the two halves together. Lightly brush the outside of the sandwich (top and bottom) with olive oil. Place in the panini press, and close the lid; or place in the frying pan or griddle, and top with a heavy plate or small cast iron skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bread is toasted on the bottom and the cheese is melting; turn, and cook for 30-45 seconds to crisp the other side. Serve hot.
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OMG! I bet Ted poured maple syrup on it.
I must say I am intrigued Lydia.
Being English you are 100% right it has all the makings of a 'ploughman's' - absolutely yummy - can't wait to try it!!!
oh, Lydia, this looks amazing! And I have everything in my pantry... perfect!
I have absolutely no doubt that this is delicious. (I think I'm glad it's not sitting in front of me, because I know I could not resist and there would go my diet.)
and I am so glad that you did say those words! this is fabulous woman!
I have a panini press that I always use for my sandwiches. I will try this one. The bacon jam sounds delicious.
I read "bacon jam" and fell in love in an instant. Truly, pair anything with bacon and I will eat it. I can't wait to try yours!
Bacon jam?? If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.
Bacon Jam??!! You wild and crazy thing!
Pauline, you know how much he loves this -- bacon *and* maple syrup!
Bellini, if you're a bacon lover, you will love this.
Jemma, the panini would be right at home at some of the pubs I've visited in the UK.
Julia, this is crazy delicious stuff, but very addicting (in a good way).
Kalyn, I need to hide it in the back of the refrigerator for just that reason!
Vanillasugar, right up your alley, this one.
Nisrine, please do give it a try. I have a kind of low-tech panini press that I use with a cast-iron skillet. Works well for these sandwiches.
PunkRizz, for me, it's "pair anything with cheese, and I'll eat it"!
Michelle, TW: Yes, oh yes!
You know I'll have no choice but to try this one!
OK that is truly it - I can't take much more!!
bacon jam!! ...with cheese ...and crusty bread!
heaven on a plate - I am going to have to "go home sick" from work right now to make this!!
There was maple syrup in it already!
Oh, my! Bacon is not a pantry item of mine, but I am about to correct that - this sounds amazing!.
Kathy, I know you'll try it and improve on it!
Carol, even the pickiest husband should like this one.
Ted, yes there was (as in, we ate the whole thing).
Judy, this is a every-now-and-then treat, of course, but it's a wonderful treat.
Very interesting recipe indeed... I love chutney, so I bet I would like bacon jam too
The panini seems delicious, and you did not even go the extra mile and added Velveeta to it!
yum! i love the sound and look of this panini. ;-)
Just made a batch yesterday - terrific! I didn't have apple cider vinegar on hand so I tossed an old apple in the blender with white vinegar and voila! For breakfast this morning: grilled cheese sandwich with Brie and bacon jam. Wow!
Sally, this jam really does have the tang of vinegar that will remind you of chutney, even without the heat.
Paz, it's really unbelievably good.
Lucia, great idea to "make your own" apple cider! I love cider vinegar in things like cole slaw, so I always seem to have some on hand, but it's great to know that there's a workaround.
This is SOOOOO good! I linked you on my blog. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Made the bacon jam for a Burger BBQ and my family flipped over it. Soooo delicious. Will make it again for 4th of July.