1 pound bacon, diced
2 cups yellow onion, brunoise (finely diced)
½ cup champagne vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
Water, as needed
½ cup red bell pepper, brunoise
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Chef’s tip on dicing bacon: Freeze the bacon before dicing. It makes it much easier to cut. Trivia note: Fats are softer when frozen than muscle. Because bacon is so high in fat it cuts very easily when cold. If you don’t believe this, try to dice bacon when it is at room temperature… you may have a mess and, unless your knife is razor-sharp, you will most likely struggle to cut all the way through it.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, render the bacon. Keep stirring until the bacon is crispy and all of the fat has been rendered out. Pour the contents of the pan through a strainer, reserving the fat.
Return the pan to the heat, adding some of the bacon fat – about ¼ cup – and the onions and cook the onions slowly in order to caramelize. Don’t rush it. It takes time to properly caramelize an onion. Give yourself about 20-30 minutes over low and slow heat to fully draw all of the sugar out of the onion.
Add the bacon back to the pan, the vinegar, peppers and sugar. The pan will probably be getting pretty full by now. At this point the object is to cook the “jam” over low heat for at least another 30 minutes. The sugar will start to melt and look syrupy as the moisture from the onions, peppers and vinegar start to evaporate. You have to adjust the moisture in the pan with water. Depending on how sharp you like your jam, you can add a little more vinegar. Mostly you’ll want to adjust the timing of the cooking with straight water.
Adjust your final seasoning with black pepper, sugar and vinegar. I would be surprised if you needed salt. Serve it immediately or store, refrigerated for up to two weeks. This is served best at room temperature.
P.S.: Try it on top of deviled eggs.
– Chef Geoff Bragg