Last month I discovered a lone fig tree growing in a field near my house. All the branches were bursting with big, beautiful figs. Can you just picture the happy dance that I did?
Wait. Don’t do that. That would be embarrassing for me. Let’s just agree that I was pretty excited about these figs and forget all about the awkward dancing that occurred.
While waiting for the figs to ripen, I spent hours dreaming up all kinds of delectable fig-based recipes. But as luck would have it, the squirrels and birds were also dreaming. And eating. So in the end, I only ended up with about two bags of figs. Not nearly the amount I had pictured in my head. So I had to make some careful choices to determine the best way to use up my precious supply. So obviously, I combined them with bacon. Best choice ever.
I don’t even know if I can describe how good this Fig-Bacon Jam is. Mostly because I’m shoving it in my face and my mom always told me not to talk with food in my mouth. It’s savory, sweet and very complex. It pushes all the right buttons for me: bacon, bourbon, coffee, maple syrup. I can’t even. And you can actually tastes the figs here. I was worried that the bacon would just overpower them, but they really hold their own.
My favorite way to eat this is simply with some sharp cheddar cheese and crackers. But put this on a grilled cheese, a burger or a grilled chicken and mushroom sandwich and you have yourself something totally drool-worthy. Or if you can stand to part with some of this Fig-Bacon Jam, a jar makes a great gift.
You can make this recipe with fresh or dried figs, but the instructions are slightly different so just make sure to read through the recipe before starting.
- 1 lb figs (fresh or dried)
- 1 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- If you are using dried figs, remove and discard any woody stems then cut the figs in half. Place them in a medium bowl. Add the bourbon, brewed coffee and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let the figs soak for about 1 hour.
- If you are using fresh figs, you can skip this soaking step (you will be adding the bourbon and coffee directly to the pot in the steps below). Remove and discard the stems, cut the figs in half and set aside.
- Heat a large heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is done and slightly browned, but not crispy. You can do this in batches if necessary. Remove the bacon from the pot and transfer it to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off some of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pot with the reserved bacon grease and sauté until the onions are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the figs and all the remaining ingredients, including the cooked bacon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to maintain a low simmer for about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally during this time. The jam is done when most of the liquid has evaporated and it has darkened in color.
- Remove the pot from the stove and allow the jam to cool slightly. Then transfer the jam to your food processor with the blade attachment and process it until the desired consistency is reached (I like my jam to have a little bit of texture).
- Transfer the jam to airtight containers and store in your refrigerator. The jam will keep for approximately 2 weeks.