It’s certainly been a while since our last installment of Better With Bacon. Far too long, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been sorely deficient in my bacon intake lately. So it’s appropriate that the bacon product featured this time around is so versatile (read: can be easily incorporated into basically any meal). Skillet Bacon Spread is essentially a bacon “jam” – spreadable, slightly sweet, and full of delicious bacon. It was created about three years ago by Josh Henderson, the man behind Skillet Street Food, a Seattle-based fleet of street food trucks. He initially created the recipe to serve as a condiment on the company’s burgers. But as bacon became fairly recognized as the delicious food group it is and the popularity of the spread grew (a mention by Martha Stewart didn’t hurt), Skillet Street Food began packaging and shipping it all over the place.
The Skillet team takes onions, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, spices, and of course bacon, cooks everything down for about six hours and then quickly purees it so it’s smooth and spreadable, but still retains a nice texture and an appearance that still allows it to be recognizable as food. (Truthfully, it looks like something you’d serve your dog, but I’m not sure you’d get a much prettier result from cooking down and pureeing these ingredients in your home kitchen).
Eaten right off the spoon, Skillet Bacon Spread definitely has the smoky flavour of bacon, which is obviously helped by the fact that there are actual chunks of cooked bacon in the mix. While the look of the spread doesn’t immediately scream “bacon!” the fact you’re guaranteed to bite into actual pieces of bacon lets you know this is the real thing. Unfortunately, the bite from the balsamic vinegar and the slight sweet kick from the rendered onions and brown sugar overwhelm the flavour a bit. But in a grilled cheese sandwich or spread on some toasted bread and topped with a fried egg, the other flavours become muted and the bacon flavour jumps out quite a bit. I can also definitely imagine it tossed into pasta, and while the combo of onions and balsamic aren’t going to work in my ice cream maker, I think this would make a great ingredient in a savory cookie or scone.
I was first turned on to the idea of bacon jam by Toronto’s Niagara Street Cafe, which I had heard served a jammified bacon concoction in some of its brunch dishes. Unfortunately, Niagara Street Cafe stopped serving brunch before I got the chance to check it out. But my sister, who had tasted the restaurant’s bacon jam at brunch, attempted a bacon jam recipe of her own last year. While hers was delicious, the process of prepping and cooking down the ingredients seemed messy and time-consuming. One of these days when I have an abundance of time and bacon, I’m definitely going to create a bacon jam of my own. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that there’s a prepared, packaged product that just an online order away. And speaking as a bacon lover with an eye on the holidays, I can’t imagine many stocking stuffers I’d appreciate better than a jar full of bacon. If you want to order me some as a present – or even for yourself – you can do so here.
** UPDATE (Aug 2011) – Skillet Bacon Spread is now available in Toronto at Ruby Eats in Leslieville!