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The Critic Cooks: Bacon Jam

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Ever since Kevin Gillespie adorned a fricassee of snails with bacon jam on an episode of Top Chef in 2009, the condiment has shown up on restaurant menus in countless forms. Even Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio borrowed Gillespie’s idea. But if a recent brunch I hosted is any indication, the sweet, savory, and totally sinful jam might be one of the few professional creations that’s even better when made at home.

A few months ago I hosted a barnyard brunch. As part of it, I served what I called a Deconstructed English Breakfast. It was a hostess-friendly cheese plate of cheddars, tomato marmalade, an eggy herb aïoli, and—you guessed it—bacon jam. My friends spread the addictive combination of smoky bacon, onions, maple syrup, and mustard onto slices of a Babettes boule with such reckless abandon that I had to refill the crock I served it in. Twice. Apparently, tripling the batch and sending each household home with its own parting jar wasn’t enough. In the weeks following the party, I received requests for the recipe not only from guests, but from uninvited contacts who heard about it. (Awkward.) Across decades of entertaining, that foolproof bacon jam has easily been the most talked-about item I’ve ever made.

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If you want people to talk about your cooking with the kind of passion usually reserved for the creations of, you know, top chefs, think about working bacon jam into your next menu.

Follow Stacey Brugeman on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @denveromnivore.

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