Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bacon Jam Meets The New Nordic Cuisine

For today's mid-morning feast I used my homemade bacon jam in a modern day version of smørrebrød, Denmark's open-faced sandwich. Although there are dozens of very traditional and precise constructions for smørrebrød, I have had a hard time sticking to conventional recipes.

One food blog I read faithfully is Danish Open Sandwiches (Smørrebrød) by Marcus Schioler. It is out of Montreal of all places and showcases many classic recipes of the beautiful things that go into architecting authentic smørrebrød. I am in awe at the food work he has done on the blog in just one year. It really is impressive. And inspiring.

Tending to just go with what's on hand, tastes that I think will work and a look that is attractive, I have done my own 'smørrebrød' thing when I load up layers on a sturdy bread base.

Perhaps my favourite post by Marcus would be a recent one titled New Nordic Open-Faced Sandwiches. Marcus frees me from my guilt of being reckless in my smørrebrød build. In this post, Marcus details the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto and I find out I might be okay. The most important thing to keep in mind though is to source your food locally. Already a mantra in our home, I think I am reasonably safe.

So how did I get to making bacon jam? Bacon jam is not typical Danish fare. You won't find the recipe in the century old Frøken Jensens Kogbog. However, the Danes do love bacon and it often shows up on smørrebrød in some form - the rendered lard as a spread or the crisped bacon as a layer or a topping.

Throughout 2011 I kept hearing the phrase 'bacon jam'. Anything bacon is good, right? But what really is bacon jam? What makes it jam? Is it made with fruit? My curiousity was piqued.

Then I finally tasted it. Two presentations at Savour Stratford's Tasting Tent event incorporated bacon jam into their dishes. Chef Nick Benninger of Nick and Nat's Uptown 21 in his 5 way "Porkapoluza" and Chef Sean Collins & Greg Kuepfer of Pazzo Ristorante as a topper on their arincini balls.

Shortly after that spectacular experience, I was reading that Skillet Street Food's bacon spread was being showcased at Toronto's All The Best Fine Foods where owners are supporters of the local food movement. (Though, interestingly, Skillet Street Food is American.)

But the craze doesn't stop. Since those jarred beauties have been tucked away in my fridge, a fellow food blogger, Kelly Brisson, demonstrated her bacon jam creation on a local morning show. Loblaws grocery chain is also on the bandwagon with their President's Choice Black Label Bacon Marmalade.

My prediction? Expect to see more applications of bacon jam out there in 2012. Perhaps a North American focused condiment for now. Let's see if this trend takes hold around the globe.

May I present my Breakfast Smørrebrød - Bacon Jam meets The New Nordic Cuisine.

1 slice of Art-is-in Bakery's Crazy Grain bread
Bacon Jam, spread thickly and to the edge

Scrambled eggs made with scallions and local cream

Salt and pepper
Oven roasted tomato, chopped (I made and froze in October)
Dollop of bacon jam

Kiss of sour cream

Garnish of fresh cilantro, chopped

Adapted from recipes by Martha Stewart and @Yzhalia

750 gr bacon
2 cooking onions, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup port
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses

In a large skillet, render the bacon over medium-high heat. It is easier to do it if the bacon has been cut into chunks first. You want the bacon to be cooked but not crisped. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Pour off the the rendered fat. But don't discard. It can be kept in the fridge and used for other purposes. (Wonderful for the preparation for hash browns for example. A Dane will love it as a spread on rye bread.)

Using a tablespoon of the fat, sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, port and molasses and bring to a boil, deglazing the roasty bits of bacon (the 'fond'). After a few minutes add the bacon.

Pour the bacon stew into a Dutch oven if you have a very low simmer on your cooktop or a slow cooker set to high. Leave uncovered. Cook for approximately 4 hours until the liquid is very sticky and syrupy. It may take less time in the Dutch oven.

When you think it is done, transfer the bacon stew to your food processor and pulse it until you have a consistency that leaves small pieces but is not a purée. If you feel it is too runny, return it to the skillet and bring it to a boil for a few minutes. With the sugars in the mixture, it won't take long to thicken. When you use it, you don't want it to 'run'. It should be the consistency of a 'jam'.

Fill sterilized 125 mL jars to 1/2" from the top. Seal with lids and rings that have been scalded. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.


Bacon - Bearbrook Game Meats Inc. purchased at the Ottawa Farmers' Market, Lansdowne Park
Onions - Roots and Shoots Farm, Manotick Station, outside of Ottawa, purchased at the Ottawa Farmers' Market, Lansdowne Park
Garlic - Abbey Hill Farms, Richmond, outside of Ottawa

Crazy Grain Bread - Art-is-in Bakery, Ottawa
Eggs - Bekings Poultry Farm, Oxford Station, outside of Ottawa, found in many specialty grocery stores around Ottawa, including Brian's Butchery
Tomatoes - Waratah Downs Organic Farm, Iroquios, south of Ottawa, purchased at the Main Street Market


  1. Terrific post (great subject matter all around)! :)

    I can't wait to try out your recipe! It absolutely looks delicious - so beautifully presented and photographed. I think it's really cool that you highlight the sources of you main ingredients. This is something I should think about doing in future posts.

    But mainly I am honoured that you've read my posts, that they've inspired you, and (especially) that you continually take the time to tells others about what I am doing. Together we'll bring smørrebrød to North America! :)

    All the best,

  2. lovely colourful food
    post looks wonderful

  3. Marcus: Nothing would be more exciting than to see some chefs in the bigger centers - Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto really embrace smørrebrød and make it a mainstream choice of interest in eating here in Canada. It really is filled with so much creativity and great tastes. It suits a local food focus so well. And let's not forget Steve Bertram (@streetcuisine), chef at The Rhino in Toronto. He has been promoting Danish cuisine, with his frikadeller at the Toronto Underground Market this fall and also Julefrokost this coming weekend. I believe Montreal's Michelle Marek, formerly of Laloux and now of FoodLab, was instrumental in Kaffeeklatsch this past June. Foodies know of NOMA and follow René Redzepi with great interest. Claus Meyer is also a well-known name on this side of the pond. Canadian food writer, Bonnie Stern, participated in MAD food camp this summer in Denmark. I remain optimistic that the ground swell is building. Let's keep the good vibes rolling!

    BTW, your inspiration goes beyond great food. You continually remind me of the wonderful heritage of Denmark. I am blessed with an AMAZING Danish family and I do like to stay connected with their culture and interests. As it is really my culture too.



  4. Torviewtoronto: Thank you for your kind words. It was a particularly unusual day today as far as lighting and taking pictures. It was very sunny. Grey and snowflakes abound is more typical of early December in Ottawa. And we don't have the usual large blanket of snow for a white reflection. In some ways the lighting on my food by the kitchen window was once in a blue moon lighting. We may not have a day like that again. I really felt the lighting was 'Nordic'. It added to the charm of the photo shoot. As well, I realized after the fact that I had a Danish tablecloth down. It is a Georg Jensen Damask. The perfect backdrop.

  5. One of my favourite posts from you! I can't stop drooling.

  6. Hi Jodi: Thanks for stopping in for a visit. I am big on condiments. They make putting together multi-flavoured dishes effortless. Today I cracked too many eggs when on a baking spree. Problem solved. I would have an omelet for lunch then. Tossed in some sauteed onion, Clarmell on the Rideau chevre goat cheese, homemade pesto and this homemade bacon jam. Crazy good. I was eating gourmet in the middle of my messy kitchen in minutes. Bacon jam seems to go with so much too. I know it is on a bit of a craze right now but I think I am going to want to keep doing it well past its trending expiry. Have you tried making it?


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