I know this sounds really weird… bacon and tomatoes? Bacon and tomato jam? What?
No, I haven’t totally lost my mind (yet). Let me explain my twisted logic. I wanted to make a “greater grilled cheese” using a really sharp white cheddar and crispy bacon strips – but the thought of trying to balance a bowl of tomato soup on my lap while cheering/yelling/flailing at the TV on gameday sounded fairly dangerous. And ain’t nobody got time to fry bacon while trying to keep up with RedZone…
So I took a cue from the stacks of culinary magazines next to my bed and decided to make bacon jam. With tomato soup. This solved both of my problems: the jam could be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge; the soup would be simmered down to a paste, thus preventing the dreaded tomato soup spillage.
I experimented with two different cheeses – sharp white cheddar and havarti – and found that the havarti just lost its charm once it was heated. Unfortunate, because of the two cheeses, the havarti gets way gooier (gooey-er?) than the cheddar does once it’s melted. BUT the havarti takes the cake in room-temperature applications: when I took a bite of havarti and tomato bacon jam spread over a water cracker, I was pretty sure I’d discovered the meaning of life.
I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will axe this recipe because it calls for tomato soup and not fresh tomatoes. Sorry not sorry – this recipe is a lazy person’s delight. Also, I wanted my jam to taste like tomato soup – remember the bowl of it I was trying to eliminate?
Anyway the recipe below is just for the tomato bacon jam – I’m pretty sure all of you know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. For the record:
1) I used a sliced sourdough loaf
2) Please. Just spread the jam on both slices of bread.
3) Sharp. White. Cheddar.
4) Unfortunately, using rendered bacon fat in place of the butter on the outside of the bread didn’t make my grilled cheese taste better. Use the butter. Generously.
- 1 lb bacon, diced into half inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced very fine
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 C tomato soup (whatever you would serve with the grilled cheese. It should be fairly thin and smooth)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Mise en place and read this recipe all the way through.
- Add the diced bacon to a cold dutch oven and turn your burner on to medium heat. The cold pan will help the fat render better.
- Cook the bacon until it reaches your preferred level of crispness, then carefully remove the bacon and drain off all but 2 TBSP of the rendered bacon fat.
- Add the onions to the pot with a pinch of salt and sweat over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and return the bacon to the pot; cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
- Add the brown sugar to the bacon and onion mixture and cook just until the sugar has melted, about 60 seconds.
- Add the soup and reduce the burner to low. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any fond that developed and allow the mixture to simmer until it becomes thick and jammy; 5-10 minutes.
- Cool slightly and serve with cheese and crackers or as part of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
To dice bacon, cut it in half lengthwise, then into half-inch chunks.