Bacon Jam: the Secret Ingredient for my Ultimate Summer Burger

This sweet and savory jam is admittedly decadent–not exactly an everyday thing. However, it’s packed with flavor, so a little bit goes a long way, and I source almost all of its ingredients from our market. In light of that, and the fact that it’s the secret ingredient for my “ultimate burger” (recipe follows), I had to share it with you. Once made, this stuff keeps nicely in the fridge for a few weeks and is a fantastic slathered on sourdough toast, or as one topping for my breakfast polenta cakes (recipe to come), mixed into a salad dressing for an umami hit, or anything else you can dream up.

A note about cooking the bacon: You’re going to slice the bacon crosswise into thin pieces, or lardons. This is most easily done when the bacon is cold. However, it’s best to allow the meat to come up to room temperature before throwing it in a hot pan. When it is cold, the meat holds on to moisture that will come out in the pan and cause your bacon to poach, instead of frying up into caramelized deliciousness. I like to slice the bacon and let it come to temperature on a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel.  

Bacon Jam

  • 1 lb. bacon, sliced into lardons
  • 8 oz. of onions (about two small), diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4+ c. of sorghum or honey
  • 1/3 c. brewed coffee
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste, if needed

Fry the bacon over medium-low heat, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Pour off most of the fat from the pan and reserve. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook down until the onions are soft, translucent and beginning to caramelize.

Add the sorghum, coffee and vinegar to the onions and garlic and raise the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, and cook for 2 minutes. At this point, carefully taste the mixture. If it tastes very sweet, add salt. If it tastes too sour, add a bit more sorghum or honey.

Return the bacon to the pan and stir it into the vinegar and onion mixture. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. The mixture should be thick and syrupy at this point.

Pour the mixture into a food processor or Vitamix (be very careful if you’re doing this while it’s still hot), and blend into a rustic paste. 

Makes about 1.5 c.

Catie’s Ultimate Burgers

  • 1 lb. of grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/3 c. of finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 t. Alchemy Spice Company Fat Elvis Memphis Rub
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika (optional)
  • goat cheese, to serve (my recipe here)
  • bacon jam, to serve
  • arugula, to serve
  • mayonaisse or aioli, to serve
  • 4 buns or rolls of your choice, to serve

Sprinkle the meat with the onions, salt and spices. Carefully blend the ingredients with your hands, taking care not to over mix. Form four thin patties and set aside while you prepare a hot grill or griddle. Cook until your desired doneness.

To serve, cut open each bun and toast lightly. Slather the bottom half with bacon jam and the other with mayo or aioli. Make a sandwich with the burger, spread with a layer of goat cheese and topped with a generous handful of arugula, and eat immediately. 

Serves 4.