Alas, Memorial Day has been and gone. I can wear white without guilt and I can grill with unabashed zeal. Next to Fall, with its rich roasts, root vegetables and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSL for short), Summer is my favorite time of year for food.
To me, Summer = grilling. I love grilling. I love it more than I can explain. There is something about cooking food over a flame that heralds in Summer. This Memorial Day, we celebrated by lighting up the barbecue and throwing on some of my favorite go-to summertime items.
I will be sharing bits and pieces from my Memorial Day feast with you over the next several posts. These recipes can be served throughout summer. They are easy enough for a weeknight dinner or for a larger gathering.
First up, appetizers. I chose two different types of crostini. I made the go-to goat cheese and caramelized onions and then the goat cheese and bacon jam. Yes, you read that correctly – bacon jam. Need I say more?
I can’t I can’t put into words the amazingness (yes, I know that’s not a word) of this stuff. It’s pretty much perfect in every way. I’ve made it three times in the past month for friends and there has not been one person who hasn’t fallen in love with it. It has a smoky, sweet and salty flavor, akin to baked beans but totally better.
Here is the step by step.
Here is the cast of characters.
I’ve made it both with maple syrup and with molasses (I ran out of maple syrup) and I think I actually prefer it with the molasses. It gives it a bit more depth of flavor than maple syrup.
The star of the show – bacon.
Two packages, cut up in lardons (just a fancy name for bacon chunks).
Saute the diced onions.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the diced onions, including the bacon.
Place the entire mixture in a crock pot and cook uncovered on medium for 3 to 4 hours.
This is where the magic happens.
After the mixture has cooked down in the slow cooker, pulse it in a food processor.
Just a word of advice – the second time I made this I think I pulsed it a bit too fine. I prefer it a bit chunkier, probably even chunkier that the picture above. So just keep checking the consistency until you get it where you want it.
This is the only grilling part of the entire recipe. Take your bread slices and drizzle olive oil or a blend (1 part olive oil, 3 parts canola) and salt and pepper. Place on the grill until it toasted how you like it.
Needless to say I’m a fan of a bit of char.
The perfect base for this stuff is tart goat cheese. The flavors just pair so well together. I have also topped this with a bit of arugula – the peppery flavor also pairs well.
Make this today. You won’t be disappointed.
2 packages sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch lardons
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or 2 tablespoons of molassas)
3/4 cup coffee (brewed or instant)
1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet (reserve for another use); add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add bacon and stir to combine.
2. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.