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Yep, BACON jam. Jam, made of BACON. It’s jam but it’s got BACON in it. How great does that sound?
I’ve had variations of this recipe saved for ages since it was doing the rounds of the American food blogs a couple of years ago. It was only during the recent recipe-clearout that I came across it again and, since then, it’s never been far from my thoughts. I originally thought it would be great to serve with a selection of cheeses but then, in a moment of inspiration, it occurred to me that it would be brilliant with cheese scones. And what better way to spend a rainy Saturday than in the kitchen, baking scones and making jam?
I’ve only attempted scones once in recent years and I think it’s fair to say they were a disaster. So much so that I haven’t bothered since. I used to make these particular cheese scones a lot when I was much younger though and they always turned out okay so I felt pretty confident as I started making the dough. I made sure to handle the dough carefully and not over-work it and I worked quickly so as to not expose the mixture to the heat of the kitchen for too long. And they turned out well, if a little browner than I would have liked on top. The two smaller “chef’s treats” we made with the leftover dough tasted promising and we left the others to cool.
While I was doing that, Stephen started making up the bacon jam. It’s not a quick process but it isn’t complicated either. When the initial stages were complete, we had to wait two hours for it to reduce and for all the flavours to combine so we did the only thing we could have done in this situation: we went to the pub. When we came back, we removed the jam from the oven and left it to cool overnight. This afternoon, we completed the final blending step and then sat down for a spot of Sunday tea. The jam was very sweet but had a complex, smoky flavour from the chilli and the bourbon which complemented the sharp cheese scones very well. Not a traditional afternoon tea but an interesting, tasty one nonetheless.
Cheese Scones (very slightly adapted from Delia’s recipe in the Complete Cookery Course)
Makes about six scones
175g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
75g Cheddar cheese
2 tbsps milk
Start by sieving together the flour, mustard powder, salt and paprika. Mix well.
Next, lightly rub in the butter using only your fingertips. Be careful not to over-work the mixture and stop when you have a crumby texture. Now add most of the cheese, leaving a little for the tops of the finished scones.
Mix together the egg and the milk and then tip that into the flour mixture. Work the liquid into the flour but again, use your fingertips and try to be light-handed. You want the final dough to be smooth but don’t knead the mixture as you would bread dough.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3 cms. Cut the scones using a 4 cm cutter. You should be able to get six with a little leftover which you can form into a smaller scone but remember it will need less cooking time.
Lay the scones onto a buttered baking sheet, brush the tops with some milk, add the leftover cheese and sprinkle with a little paprika (this will go very dark though so you can leave this out if you wish) and then bake for 15 minutes at 220 degrees. I checked the scones at 15 minutes and they didn’t seem to be cooked so I put them back for another 3 minutes, the eating tells me I should have pulled them out at 15 minutes though. Test with a knife, they are cooked when the knife comes out clean.
Bacon Jam (from this blog)
Makes one jar
450g smoked, streaky bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
1 large onion, sliced
3 tbsps light brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
125ml strong coffee
60ml cider vinegar
125ml bourbon (we used Four Roses bourbon, a bottle of which was sent to us for cooking with some time ago but we didn’t get around to using)
60ml maple syrup
1 tablespoon chilli sauce
Start by cooking the bacon over a medium heat until it begins to brown. You want the edges to be crispy but you don’t want to cook all the fat out. Once cooked, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain.
Remove most of the oil from the frying pan and then add the onions and the sugar. Cook over a medium heat until the onions have cooked right down and started to caramelise. Now add the garlic and spices and cook for about another five minutes.
Add all of the liquids and return the bacon to the pan. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for two hours, checking that there is enough liquid as it cooks.
Let the mixture cool and then blend to a jam-like consistency, don’t puree the mixture too much though, you want some distinct pieces of bacon left in there.