Recipe: Porc Jam
Yield: approximately 2 ½ cups
Coffee: Corsica as drip (dark and strong)
When it comes to breakfast, we all have two choices: there is the sweet, and there is the savory. We are definitely in the second category – always looking for another savory dish to have with our morning coffee. Inspired by the success of our rilettes (or as we call it, French jam) not only in its flavor but its great flexibility (really, you can smear it on anything), we came up with another spreadable pig; this time spiked with dates (what we are calling Porc Jam, at least for now). It is so uncommonly rich without being overwhelming or cloying because the sweet dates meet their match in the salty, smoky bacon. Just like a coffee blend, it’s all about balance and long lasting flavors.
You can do a lot with our Porc Jam:
- In grilled goat cheese sandwiches
- Straight up on toast
- With blue cheese anything
- On seared scallops
- Mixed into chicken salad
But when we started on this recipe, I had no idea it would make such a delicious filling for sticky buns, turning a very popular regional Pennsylvania breakfast sweet into something even savory-loving Frenchmen can get behind this holiday season.
½ cup chopped pitted dates
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh ground coffee (We used Nizza blend – always a favorite.)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup hot water
1 pound sliced bacon, sliced widthwise into thin strips (about 1/8-inch)
2 cups chopped onion
½ cup dark brown sugar
Place the dates in a small heatproof bowl with the cinnamon, coffee and black pepper, and cover with hot water. Set aside to soften the dates, and steep together the coffee and spices.
In saucepan, render the bacon until cooked about ¾ of the way to crisp (only lightly browned, still some fat in there). Carefully pour off the fat, and reserve for alternate use.
Add the onion and cook, stirring and continuously scraping the bottom of the pan, and cook until tender and lightly caramelized, about 7 to 10 minutes. (The liquid that is released from sweating the onions will initially deglaze the bottom of the pan, but after some cooking, the sugar that is also released within that onion water will begin to caramelize to the bottom as well.)
Stir in the sugar, and continue to cook, using a spatula to continuously scrape the bottom, and keep the sugar from scorching, until the mix is thick and jammy looking, about 5 more minutes.
Add softened dates (with all of the liquid), scraping bowl completely clean so all of the spices get into the jam, and bring to a simmer. Stir well to combine all ingredients, then remove from heat to let it cool off for a few minutes before pureeing. (You always get a smoother puree when something is warm, but if it’s too hot, it splatters everywhere, like molten lava).
Transfer the mixture to a high-sided, wide-mouthed heatproof container. Using a stick blender (most stick blenders come with the perfect container for this), process the mixture until smooth, leaving just tiny bacon bits. Let cool and store refrigerated in a sealed container. Will keep for up to 2 weeks. But I doubt that’ll be an issue.