I am captivated by the South. Not sure if it is the southern charm or history that draws me. It is perhaps a bit of both plus my curiosity to explore the area. Included in my bucket list, is to visit all fifty states. I am hovering around the 28 mark and it should tick up to 29 when hubby and I visit
soon. Speaking of Chicago,
if you have any great restaurant recommendations, let me know.
With my ever growing inquisitiveness about the wonders that lie in the south, I was inspired to create this week’s Friday Night Bites. In the Bay Area, Pimento Cheese is not prevalent yet not extinct. However, I understand it is commonplace in the south. This just fueled my need to create a batch of the cheesy wonder. I thought to myself, how could I elevate it to the next level? Why not add bacon jam, of course. Now throw this combination on a toast point and you have a southern inspired Friday Night Bite.
I used the Bacon Jam recipe from Lindsay Landis & Taylor Hackbarth’s new book – Breakfast for Dinner. It does take some time to make, but the result is worth the wait. It definitely has some southern roots planted in the flavor profile. With the Pimento Cheese, I researched the web to understand the ingredients and formulated the recipe below.
Next was to "de-crust" white bread. Okay, not sure if “de-crust” is a real word in the dictionary, but I kind of like it. I think you all understand what I mean. Smile. I simply toasted it in the oven until golden brown and crisp. I would suggest adorning the toasts with about a teaspoon of the bacon jam, otherwise it is tad overwhelming. The simple dollop just elevates it to the next level.
You could enjoy this delight with a cold beer quite frankly or a chilled glass of Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp Chardonnay. Cheers to a great upcoming weekend!
Makes about 2 cups
1 pound sliced Applewood Smoked Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup bourbon
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until it starts to brown, 10-12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plat. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in a skillet.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. (very important not to burn the garlic!) Return bacon to skillet and add coffee, vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, ginger and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse briefly until finely chopped. Return mixture to pan and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add bourbon and gently simmer for 30 minutes more, or until jam is thick, syrupy and dark in color; if at any point the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan and starts to look more like paste than jam, add water, 1/4 cup at a time. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Refrigerated in an airtight container, bacon jam will keep for 3-4 weeks.
1 Pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 ½ Tablespoon finely grated white onion
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Red Hot Sauce
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 (4 oz) jar of diced pimentos, drained and use 1 Tablespoon of juice
grinds fresh ground pepper
¼ Cup Mayonnaise + 2 Tablespoons
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mashing with a fork to form a thick spreadable past: if it’s a bit loose, add more mayonnaise until it holds together. Season to taste. Refrigerate a couple hours before using and best overnight. Makes about 3 cups.