Chipotle Bacon Jam

BaconFood Fancy

Every January, the Fancy Food Show comes to San Francisco. It’s one of the best things about my job. For three whole days, the Moscone Center is filled with artisans, vintners, farmers, cheese mongers, chocolatiers and distributors from around the globe showing people anything and everything you could possible think of in the world of food. The people watching is beyond entertaining.

The last few years of the show have been, well, boring. It was the same stuff over and over again, which made sense because of the economy. Nobody took a risk on a new line when there was no money to be spent. On top of that there was, frankly, a lot of junky and repetitive stuff. How much flavored popcorn do you need? And really? ANOTHER Fair Trade Organic Chocolate?

This year’s Fancy Food Show was different. There was a buzz in the air. If I could choose one word to describe the vibe it would be passion. Passion for ingredients. (And not just a single ingredient. Bacon spread anyone?) Passion for making something the very best it could be. A great example is the variety of ice creams. Yes, there were many, but all were made to an artisan’s exacting standards and the flavors were not the usual. They included: Banana Cinnamon, Nola Coffee & Donuts, Salted Caramel and, my favorite, Chocolate Covered Strawberry with REAL milk and strawberries not (strawberry-like bits). This same attention to quality went way beyond the ice cream into the salami, and cheese, and baked goods, on a scale I haven’t seen recently. The possibilities and offerings were endless.

The silliness and crazy costumes worn by the people selling the latest bottled water fad were replaced by innovative, young, enthusiastic food lovers with whisk tattoos, who were interested in making REAL food and not re-packaging the same old ideas. Even better, most of these companies were small and independent. In prior shows the big time players woul d dominate the scene, but not so much this year. (Let’s hear it for the little guys!) Throw in a Top Chef demonstration or two and I found myself inspired. The food industry seems to be changing for the better.

For customers, these changes may not show up all at once but if you start to take a look at the labels on your favorite foods you will definitely see a change in attitude as well as ingredients. Real sugar not corn syrup. Real meats not meat like products. Ingredients you can pronounce and actually understand what it is ’cause you could grow it or raise it in your backyard if you had the space. Real food at it’s best.

My favorite product that we tasted at the show was a Bacon spread from a company named Skillet. We will be bringing it into the store but if you can’t wait to try it, here is the closest recipe I can find. It is courteey of the blog Homesick Texan.

Chipotle Bacon Jam
The Homesick Texan

Ingredients
1 pound of bacon
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sliver of onion
1-4 chipotles en adobo (depending on the level of heat you can tolerate)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the can)
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground Mexican hot chocolate
1 cup of brewed coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Black pepper to taste

Directions
Cook the bacon until fat is rendered, but not too crisp. Cut cooked bacon into two-inch sized pieces.

On medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in one tablespoon of rendered bacon fat in a medium-sized pot for two minutes. Add the cooked bacon, spices, apple-cider vinegar and coffee. Simmer on low for two hours, stirring occasionally. If jam starts to get dry, add water, 1/4 cup at a time.

After two hours, place bacon jam into a food processor, and puree for two or three seconds, tops. You just want to bring it together but still have some chunks.

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