Bacon Jam

I made this on a whim after looking for appetizer ideas for our family Easter lunch. I decided to make Bacon Jam and Brie Phyllo Cups however their bacon jam was nothing more than bacon added to apricot jam. I knew I could make something better.

This has a bit of a kick to it; adjust the sriracha to your taste. Heck, leave it out if spicy isn’t your thing.

I’m already picturing some of this jam on a slice of toast with some apple slices and cheddar cheese.

Bacon Jam
Servings: about 2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound smoked bacon
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup grade B (now called Grade A Dark/Robust) maple syrup

Directions:

  1. In a glass 2-cup measuring cup combine the coffee, brown sugar, sriracha, vinegar and maple syrup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Chop bacon into 1″ pieces. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and starting to crisp. Move the bacon to a paper-towel-lined bowl and pour off the rendered bacon fat.
  3. Return 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to the pan and add the caramelized onions and garlic. Stir into the bacon fat and cook until you start to smell the garlic. Add the liquid ingredients and combine. Scrap the bottom of the pan to release any bacon fond that may have been created at the beginning.
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and return the bacon to the pan. Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring periodically.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool, in the pan, for 20-30 minutes. Reserve about a 1/2 cup and set it aside. Transfer the rest into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the reserved bacon mixture and give it 1 or 2 pulses just to combine.
  6. Taste and season with salt, pepper, sriracha or vinegar to your own taste.
  7. Store in an air-tight container and enjoy.

Notes:
I use caramelized onions because I had them on hand. You could also thinly slice enough yellow or sweet onions so you have about 3 cups and cook them in step 3 with a generous pinch of salt for 10-15 minutes over low heat. Then add the garlic and continue from there.

This recipe is heavily influenced by this one I found on Pop Sugar along with 4 or 5 others I looked over that had similar combinations.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

Homemade picklesOne of my childhood memories is waking up on a summer morning to the smell of hot pickling liquid. My mom canned pickles, relish, jams and jellies throughout the summer. We would enjoy the result months later, as would family and friends who received tasty treats in the winter.

A couple of years ago I asked my mom for her bread & butter pickle recipe. She laughed and pointed me toward a worn copy of the Ball Blue Book that she had used for 40 years. My recipe is an adaptation of that one with a bit more instruction.

Pickling is easy and doesn’t take a lot of special equipment. It’s a fine way to spend a summer afternoon, especially if the weather isn’t super-duper. The taste of a homemade pickle, in deepest winter, will brighten your day.
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Sausages with Onion Gravy

[Sausages and Onion Gravy]

Sausages and Onion Gravy with Mashed Potatoes

One day recently, while musing in my head over what to make for dinner, I decided I had to have mashed potatoes that night. There were potatoes sitting in a drawer, surely turning to mush, and the only possible preparation for them was mashed.

I also had pulled some frozen sausages from the freezer a night or two before. How to combine mashed potatoes and sausages became my mental exercise for the rest of the day. Gravy became the solution.

Sausages with Onion Gravy
Servings: 2-3
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage
  • 1 lg. yellow onion, halved through the root end, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half moons
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan or skillet until the oil shimmers. Add the sausage links and cook until browned on both sides, 5-6 minutes total. Transfer sausages to a plate.
  2. Return the pan to the heat and add the onions to the pan. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper; stir to coat with oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions start to soften.
  3. Return the sausages to the pan along with any drippings. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, loosely cover and cook for 5 minutes. Check the internal temp. of the sausages; if they have reached 160°F the remove. If not continue cooking until they reach 160°F.
  4. After removing the sausages continue to cook the onions and broth, uncovered until the liquid has reduced by at least half; about 10 more minutes. Add the butter and mix in to flavor the gravy. Taste and adjust salt/pepper as desired.
  5. Serve with mashed potatoes and a side veg of your choice.

Notes:
A bit of fresh thyme cooked with the gravy, or some chopped fresh parsley at the end, would have added a bit of fresh green taste to the dish. Still quite good.

Chicken Thighs with Baked Onions

I’ve always preferred the dark meat of poultry, the drumsticks and thighs, over the breast. They have more flavor to start with and will survive a bit of mistreatment. Braise them, fry them, grill them, bake them, and they’ll usually stand up to whatever flavor you throw at them.

For this recipe I simply seasoned them with salt & pepper, seared them and baked them with some onions to finish them off. They went great with the cauliflower and shells that was the real “star” of the meal. Enjoy.

Chicken Thighs with Baked Onions
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lg. onions, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 12 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom of 13″x9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange onions in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Pat dry both sides of the chicken and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place 4 thighs into the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then flip over and cook and additional 3 minutes. Transfer browned thighs to the baking dish (see note). Repeat for remaining thighs.
  3. When all the chicken is cooked add chicken broth to the pan and scrap up any brown bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the butter; as it melts swirl it into the broth. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes to reduce. Scatter sliced onions over the chicken thighs. Pour reduced broth over the chicken and onions.
  4. Cover the baking dish with foil and move dish to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes; thighs are done when they have an internal temp of 165°.
  5. Transfer chicken to a platter and scatter onions over/around the chicken. The accumulated juices can be served on the side, if you wish.

Notes:
I laid the chicken into the baking dish in a sort of shingle manner. The first thigh leaned on the edge of the dish, the second thigh leaned on the first thigh and so on. I fit two rows of thighs in the pan.

One comment/complaint was that the onions were still fairly raw. When I make this again I’ll try microwaving the onions with a big pinch of kosher salt for a 2-3 minutes to start the cooking process before adding the chicken.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions

This recipe was inspired by the brats we enjoyed as part of the Milk-Can Supper we enjoyed a few months back. I think the result was very tasty and I’ll certainly make brats this way again.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25-30 inutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 1 12 oz. bottle ale

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add about half of the brats and brown on all sides. Transfer to a dish and repeat with the remaining brats.Cut the brats in half and set aside.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and place a collapsible steamer basket in the bottom of the pot. Spread the onions on the steamer basket. Layer the halved brats over the onions. Pour the beer over everything.
  3. Cover the pot and return it to medium heat until the beer begins producing steam. Reduce the heat to low and steam the brats for 15 minutes.
  4. Check the temp. of the brats. If they’ve reached 160°F in the middle then they are good to go. If not cook for another minute or 2.
  5. Serve brats with the steamed onions in a bun, on a plate, with mustard or with what ever your heart desires.

Notes:
I had lack of burners the night I made these so I cooked them to 155°F, dumped the brats and onions in a oven-safe dish, added a bit of the beer broth, covered it with foil and tossed it in the oven set to “keep warm (which is ~250°F for me). When dinner was ready 30 minutes later these were all set and ready to go.

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley

This recipe has either a small amount of prep and a lot of cooking OR a large amount of prep and comes together real quick. Either way there is a lot of time in between cooking the components to do other things.

[Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley]

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Barley

As you can see, I made this in an electric skillet. Well, I baked the barley. I probably could have done the whole thing in the skillet though. Something to think about for another time.

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Baked Beans

I’ve made these several times for parties or large gatherings. They are heartier than the usual canned version with a nice dense bean.

Baked Beans
Servings: 12 to 16
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 4 28-oz. cans of small red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ground red chipotle
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven racks so a large Dutch oven (with lid) will easily fit. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Add the ketchup, tomato, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, paprika and chipotle to a bowl. Stir until the brown sugar has broken up and been well mixed into the other ingredients.
  3. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add the chopped onions and a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir to coat with oil and cook for around 5 minutes. The onions should be translucent.
  4. Add the sauce mixture to the pot, stir into the onions, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the beans and incorporate. Cover pot and bake for 75 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Test seasoning for salt and pepper; adjust as desired.

Notes:
For best results make this dish in advance, cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat the next day in a slow-cooker or a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

This recipe is roughly based on one by Dave Lieberman. I pulled the bacon to make it more vegetarian friendly though I don’t mark it as vegetarian because Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian.