(April 23, 2021) There is nothing that shapes the human experience as profoundly and persuasively as creativity.
That being said, what is creativity? Are we born with it or is it something that is acquired? What is the difference between creativity in science, art, and music?
No one really knows the answer, but it is the pursuit of creativity that matters and the constant strive for perfection that distinguishes one individual from another.
Chefs also seek ingenuity and hope their dishes reach a climatic, sensorial medley that is nothing short of a memorable experience.
However, the receiver of such awaited delights is crucial in the circle of completion. If one’s palate and range of knowledge are limited, the tasty offerings are not fully understood and will receive fair reviews at best.
In order for comprehension to be experienced at its fullest, continual research and experimentation is imperative. With that thought in mind, let us turn our attention to the making of bacon, plum jam.
Cognizance comes in many flavors. Before we can explore specifics, a basic insight of jam itself must start the pages of proficiency.
Jam-making goes beyond the element of taste. Texture is key and can be a tricky process. There are three key chemical entities that must combine to achieve a harmonious balance: sugar, pectin and acids.
Pectins are long, linked chains of sugar molecules, which are found naturally in plant cell walls. Pectins are found in fruits, particularly in the peels and cores. When jam sets, pectin plays a vital role.
Boiling the jam releases the pectins from the fruit. In cases where a jam is being made from a low pectin fruit, either a high pectin fruit or commercial pectin must be added.
Sugar is just as important as it is vital for the overall taste of the jam and also plays a key role in helping the jam to set. Many jam recipes recommend the use of 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar.
Sugar enhances the pectin’s gel-forming capability by drawing water away from the pectin. In the absence of sufficient water, pectin molecules are more likely to unite with each other which results in a thicker consistency.
Fruits have varying levels of acidity. The higher the acid level, the better the jelling process.
Have you ever wondered why most jam recipes call for lemon juice? Lemon juice brightens or lifts the overall flavor of the jam.
Lemon juice also lowers the pH of the jam mixture, which neutralizes the negative charges on the strands of the pectin so they can group together, which also helps solidifies the jam.
Bacon, plum jam is the best of both worlds. Sweet, savory and spicy comprise this delectable delight. And best of all, it is loaded with bacon!
The following recipe calls for plums and raisins. If plums are out of season, just use raisins. The beauty of this dish is it can be improvised for personal preference and the time of year.
Bacon, plums, raisins, chipotle peppers, brown sugar and rice vinegar are the key components that qualify this condiment to be categorized as a jam.
You might be asking how to incorporate this jam in your menu? Bacon, plum jam makes an awesome gift. Simply present in a small canning jar with a ribbon.
Bacon, plum jam is also a delectable topping for grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Don’t stop there, grilled pork loin and a roasted ham also pair deliciously with the jam.
For those who relish the thought of gorgeous cheese platters; bacon, plum jam is a perfect accompaniment. The jam’s sweet, savory and spicy taste compliments the cheeses and is a great topping for toasted baguette slices or crackers.
The element of a surprise is a must when entertaining. Bacon, plum jam is just that. Enjoy!
Bacon, Plum Jam
1 ½ pounds thick cut bacon
1 ½ cups sweet onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup plum flesh with the skins
¼ cup dark raisins
1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2/3 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 teaspoon ground mustard
2/3 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse, ground black pepper
1. In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the fat. When bacon has cooled, cut one half of the bacon coarsely and the other half finely. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.
2. Sauté onions, garlic, pepper, plums and raisins in bacon drippings over medium-low heat until the onions become translucent.
3. Add ginger, mustard, allspice and cinnamon and cook for 90 seconds, constantly stirring.
4. Increase heat to high; add cornstarch, adobe peppers, brown sugar, maple syrup, rice vinegar and black pepper, and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the side of the pan.
5. Add bacon, reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the jam reduces and a thick consistency is achieved.
6. Refrigerate to finalize the thickening process.
Yields about 2 ½ cups
Secret Ingredient – Creativity. “Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.”
– Bruce Garrabrandt