This Bacon-Bourbon Jam recipe is a sponsored post brought to you by CuttingBoard.com. They provided products in exchange for my review, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own- especially the obnoxious ones.
I am the self-dubbed, and not world-renowned, Queen of Charcuterie Boards. With the holidays fast approaching, I teamed up with my buddies at CuttingBoard.com to create a new recipe; which I proudly displayed in a gorg meat and cheese board. You may remember the folks from CuttingBoard.com from such posts as this one. They were the first people to award me for my food photography- because, well, they obviously have great taste. When they asked if I would be interested in telling you about some of their products, my response was a resounding, “Uh! Heck yeah!”
You see, there are a few brands and companies that I’m more than pleased to share with you, and this is one of them.
Why I love CuttingBoard.com:
They get customer service at CuttingBoard.com. That’s the long and short of it. I’m a stickler for companies doing right by their clients and they do such a fantastic job across the board (no pun intended). Their prices are affordable, their products are beautiful and functional, and on the very rare occasion they have an error in their service, they resolve it quickly and go above and beyond. What’s not to love?
So, I have had my eye on a set of Tramanto olive wood serving boards for theeeee longest. I knew I was hosting Soldiers from the military base again for Thanksgiving, and I needed a new recipe to throw on the charcuterie board. For some reason, maybe the grain of the olive wood, bacon came to mind. We all know nothing goes better with bacon than bourbon. So, done and done! But, besides the Bacon-Bourbon Jam, the boards are going to be the highlight of my display. However, I’ll get to those in a minute.
Bacon, Bourbon and Brown Sugar, oh my!
A butt-load of bacon, light brown sugar, loads of onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and a couple of secret ingredients are what you’ll need for this recipe. Oh! And the remnants of my “FOR RECIPES ONLY BOURBON” (HECTOR!!!) that someone (named HECTOR) decided to drink. Because I guess he thinks drinking “bourbon neat” counts as a recipe. I swear I can’t stand him sometimes. Obviously, since he’s willing to risk being in the doghouse, my taste in bourbon is impeccable. I recommend using a mid-shelf whiskey in this recipe. Top-shelf isn’t something that’s necessary since we’re cooking it. Bottom shelf is a no-no, too, because we’re concentrating its flavor. Gut-rot just isn’t appetizing.
Start with the bacon.
Like I mentioned before, this recipe calls for a lot of bacon. I mean, the name “Bacon-Bourbon Jam” should’ve given that away. Specifically, twenty-four ounces to two pounds of bacon are what you need. Unless labeled “one pound”, most packaged bacon comes in twelve ounce packs- whichever you pick up is fine. You can use thick-sliced or regular bacon. The former will take longer to cook, though, and I haven’t found that the extra time made much of a difference in the overall taste in the end. Cut the bacon slices into half-inch thick strips. Don’t bother separating the slices prior to cutting them because they’ll break apart in the pan as they cook.
Add the bacon to a large skillet in one fell swoop and cook them over moderate heat. This mid-range heat helps to draw out as much of that bacon grease as possible, without burning the bacon in the process.
Multi-task like a boss.
While the bacon is cooking, get the onions out and brace yourself. Tears are inevitable. Use your knife to lop off the end of the onions. The ends without the root. The root helps hold the onion slices in place while you work, so you want to keep them attached. Cut the onions in half and then peel off, and discard, the papery skins.
Cut the onions through the middle again, but don’t go all the way through the root. Leave that in tact. If you have a large onion, cut it in thirds. You want the slices of onions to be no longer than two inches. This will help the onions to caramelize in a decent amount of time, and at the same rate.
Slice the onions about a quarter of an inch thick. Place the onion slices into a bowl and set it to the side.
The bacon should be releasing loads of fat at this point. If you find the bacon is swimming in fat, carefully, drain some of it off and return the pan the stove to continue cooking.
Peel and finely chop your garlic cloves while you wait for the bacon to finish cooking. Set this in a separate bowl and put it off to the side next to the onions.
Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon. Drain off all but three tablespoons of the bacon fat- just leave it in the pan. Save the excess fat for another recipe- don’t worry, I have plenty for you to use it in.
Caramelize the onions and garlic.
Return the pan to the stove and, after allowing it to heat for a minute or two over medium heat, add all of the sliced onions. Sweat the onions, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. The onions will begin to take on a glossy, opaque appearance as they sauté.
Add the minced garlic to the pan with the onions and continue to sauté for five more minutes.
Continue stirring to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan and scorching. Browning on the bottom of the pan is desirable. Burning onions is not.
Strip the leaves off of the thyme stems and throw them into the pan.
Stir in the ground mustard and cloves.
Follow them with the black pepper. No salt just yet! You need to wait until after the bacon has been added in the last step to see if it needs salt.
The secret is out!
You know how sometimes you taste something and you’re like, “MAN!!! That’s really good!” Then you try to make it at home and, while it’s still good, it’s not as good as you remember? Well, this is going to be one of those dishes for your guests. I mean, unless they read this blog too, then I guess you’ll both be awesome.
Add a quarter cup of brewed coffee and a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar. I know, I know! “WHA!?!?! What is this craziness!??!?!” It’s flavor, my friend. Unadulterated, go-‘head-wich- yo’-bad-self, I-know-thas-right, flavor. That’s how I get down.
Add a packed half-cup of light brown sugar, and stir everything together. Continue caramelizing the onions for a few more minutes.
Deglazing the pan with bourbon.
The final ingredient requires caution and overhead clearance. Pull the pan off of the stove and turn off the heat. Since I’m not there to spot you, I’m going to urge the highest amount of caution. Add the bourbon to the pan and, using a butane torch, a long lighter, or a long match to light the bourbon. BE CAREFUL. You can’t see it in the image, but there’s a blue flame burning off the alcohol in the pan. You may, or may not, be able to see the same in your pan. It usually takes a minute or two for that amount of alcohol to burn off. Once the flame goes out, you can return it to the stove to continue cooking down the onions.
The onion will cook down to a thick, syrupy consistency. The liquid in the pan will have all but evaporated and the onions will look like they’re in a thick glaze.
Finishing the Bacon-Bourbon Jam.
Transfer the caramelized onions to a deep-sided bowl; this will prevent the mixture from flying everywhere in the next step. Use an immersion blender to puree the onions semi-smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender *get one* just use your blender. Be sure to vent the blender’s lid to avoid an explosion. The goal is to break down those longer strips of onion and create a chunky, salsa-like consistency.
Return the onion mixture to the pan and fold in the bacon. Warm the bacon through, then taste the jam. If it tastes a little bland, add just a pinch of salt. The jam will become saltier as it sits, so less is more.
How to set up your charcuterie display.
I love creating meat and cheese displays that wow my guests. I make sure there are different size boards on varying levels. I place my smaller olive wood board directly onto the countertop, I inverted a shallow bowl and placed my mid-sized board on top of that. My largest board was placed on top of an inverted casserole dish. Nothing fancy, but it does create a great, eye-catching set up.
What I love and appreciate about these boards from CuttingBoard.com, besides the price tag, is how beautiful they are. They have exquisite raw edges and the grain in each board is striking. Because no two boards are the same, they elevate even the simplest recipe to something out of a magazine. When I’m not using them for serving, I display them in my kitchen- they’re that pretty.
If you don’t have artwork like these to use, plain wooden cutting boards, or even plates can be used instead. Again, use varying levels to create the look of a professional charcuterie display.
What to Include:
Of course, my Bacon-Bourbon Jam is set in a place of prominence.
Added accompaniments like stuffed olives, piquillo peppers, fig jam, and fresh fruit compliments the meats and cheeses. Here’s a really detailed post on how to compose a charcuterie board.
Pile on your choice of charcuterie. Here, I’ve adding German speck, Italian prosciutto, hot soppressata, a smoked bresaola, and a mustard seed salami. A bowlful of sliced, toasted French bread is a must, too.
Finally, add a combination of cheeses to your charcuterie board. I like to blend textures and flavors- smoked gouda, comté, roquefort, chèvre, aged cheddar, and a smoked gruyere were my choices for this board. My cheese knives are also something I picked up from CuttingBoard.com’s Olive Wood line. This two-piece set is the perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season- especially if you have a cheese-freak like me on your gift list.
Experiment and Enjoy!
The star of the show is definitely this Bacon-Bourbon Jam. The beautiful backdrop of the olive wood display boards just adds more panache.
Spooning the Bacon-Bourbon Jam on a slice of baguette topped with chèvre is something that will make you feel things inside. Try it.
Pin this recipe for later, visit my homies at cuttingboard.com, and prepare to wow your guests this holiday season!
**This post contains affiliate links. To find out what that means to you, please read my disclosure page**
- 2 12 ounce packages bacon
- 3 medium white onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- kosher salt, to taste
Cook the Bacon
- Cut the bacon slices into half-inch thick strips.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the bacon to the pan.
- While the bacon is cooking, peel and cut the onions into 1/4" thick by 2" long slices. Place the onion slices into a bowl and set aside.
- Check the cooking bacon. Carefully drain off some of the fat if there seems to be quite a bit of it in the pan. Return the pan the stove to continue cooking.
- Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves while you wait for the bacon to finish cooking. Set this in a separate bowl and this bowl aside.
- Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan, then return the pan to the stove.
Caramelize the Onions and Garlic
- Over medium heat sauté the sliced onions, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. The onions will begin to take on a glossy, opaque appearance as they sauté.
- Add the minced garlic to the onions and continue to sauté for 5 additional minutes.
- Stir to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan and scorching.
- Strip the leaves from the thyme stems and add them to the pan along with the ground mustard, pepper, and the cloves.
- Stir in the coffee, balsamic vinegar, and the brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to further caramelize the onions.
Deglaze with Bourbon
- Pull the pan off of the stove and turn off the heat. Carefully, add the bourbon to the pan and, using a butane torch, a long lighter, or a long match, light the bourbon to burn off the alcohol.
- You may, or may not, be able to see the flame in your pan, so use caution. The alcohol should burn off in 1-2 minutes.
- Once the flame goes out, return the pan to the stove to continue cooking down the onions for 10 more minutes, or until the onions look thick and syrupy.
Finish the Jam
- Transfer the onions to a deep-sided bowl, and using an immersion blender or a blender, puree the onions to a semi-smooth consistency.
- Return the onion mixture to the pan and fold in the bacon.
- Warm the bacon through, then taste the jam, adding just a pinch of salt if necessary. The jam will become saltier as it sits.
- Transfer the Bacon-Bourbon Jam to a serving dish, or an air-tight container. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Serve as desired, either cold or warm.