Spread the Love
Breakfast in a jar.
That was the idea I had when I started working on this recipe. I’m hardly the first person in the world to think of a spreadable bacon product – the internet abounds with bacon jam recipes. The basic idea is that you create a ridiculously tasty spreadable or spoonable product with nice crispy bacon, some sugar, and loads of caramelized onions. What’s not to like? I had been toying with the idea of developing a bacon jam recipe for a while, but it wasn’t until I found myself looking to develop a new (and different) Seville orange recipe that I really felt this idea coming together. In essence, I was thinking about bringing together breakfast flavours. I was imagining bacon jam with toast and eggs, but I wasn’t sure what else to add. While researching basic recipes on which to base my own, I came across this lovely coffee-infused recipe from The Endless Meal and it got me thinking about breakfast beverages. What about orange juice? I closed my eyes and pictured a lovely plated breakfast with some fresh-squeezed juice on the side. In spreadable form. Because SURE. WHY NOT.
The truth is I’ve been a hardcore marmalade-maker for years now, and while this bears very little resemblance to a true marmalade, I was driven by the idea of capturing and incorporating the fragrant, intense, bitter-sweet nature of that preserve in a very different sort of dish. While you could actually pursue a few different citrus options here (more on that below), Seville oranges are uniquely suited to the task, as they have enough character and power to stand up to bacon and caramelized onions. No small feat mind you, as those two flavours tend to pack a wallop.
Now I’m struggling a little bit with what to say here, because this recipe definitely caught me off guard. Don’t get me wrong – It totally works. But the first bite of it is a little unexpected. The key flavours are equally bold, and they seem to jostle for attention. You have this brief moment of confusion where your brain thinks it’s eating some kind of orange-flavoured bacon (I mean… I guess it is?). But then something happens – that first bite primes your palate and lingers. All of the sudden you find yourself a little hooked on the combination, digging spoonfuls out of the jar and looking for excuses to eat some more. I did some research for this paragraph by eating a tiny spoonful from the fridge (I know, my life is hard). Just that one little nibble was enough, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Orange and bacon and caramelized onions and brown sugar. It’s familiar and exotic all at once, and it just works. It might just be the best breakfast invention since… well, since sliced bread.
The Croque Petite
Consider this a recipe within a recipe. You don’t need to make this, but if you’re looking for an amazing way to eat your bacon marmalade, I’ve got you covered (because you will be tempted to eat it out of the jar, and it’s probably best not to do that… too much).
Given that bacon marmalade is backed with sweet and savoury breakfast-friendly flavours, I whipped up a few little snack sandwiches to show it off. I’ve dubbed these ‘croque-petites’ – little bites. I always imagined these as tiny little open-faced snack sandwiches, though honestly I have no idea why. I guess it just seemed like fun. The way I’ve laid it out (and photographed it) here, you end up with a very shareable sort of appetizer tray, though You could just as easily adapt this and make a meal-sized sandwich (probably with a chicken egg rather than quail eggs, unless you like cracking tiny tiny eggs over and over just for yourself).
I’m not going to give quantities, as you can simply adjust this to as many sandwiches as you like. Here’s what you’ll need:
- baguette, cut into thin rounds
- smoked gouda cheese
- quail eggs
- black pepper
- chopped flat-leaf parsley
- bacon marmalade
Here’s what you do:
- Top the rounds of baguette with a thin slice of smoked gouda and place them on a baking tray.
- Melt a little butter in a frying pan or on a flat griddle. Carefully crack the individual quail eggs without breaking the yolks (this can be tricky – sometimes the shell wants to peel away from a section before the membrane beneath will break). Fry enough sunny-side-up eggs to cover the baguette rounds.
- Preheat a broiler. Place the cheese-covered bread under the broiler and cook until bubbly and browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Top each toast with a fried egg, black pepper, parsley, and a dollop (about 1 tsp) or bacon marmalade. Enjoy.
Of course you could tweak this in all kinds of ways, but I really, REALLY want to go on record as having said that the smoked gouda is the perfect cheese for this. Creamy and distinctive without overwhelming, the smokiness is the perfect accompaniment to the bacon and the citrus. It really ties everything together.
If you give the bacon marmalade recipe a try and you come up with another great way serve it, be sure to let me know in the comments below!
As with several other recipes here on Diversivore, this uses the poorly understood and truly underrated Seville orange. If you’ve never used Seville oranges before, do yourself a favour and click that last link to check out the Ingredient Page I’ve written up all about finding, choosing, and using them. Even if you can’t get any for this recipe, I’ll have some suggestions below. The rest of the recipe involves pretty straightforward and common ingredients, so let’s dive in to the tips and tricks.
Seville Oranges & Citrus Options
By way of an ultra-quick summary I’ll state the following: Seville oranges have an intense and delicious orange flavour, and they are decidedly NOT sweet. If you can find them, use them for this, for marmalade, for other recipes on my site, and for Mexican, Spanish, and Cuban cooking. They’re a wonderful ingredient. If you can’t find them though, you can still make this. The best substitution is a mixture of sweet orange (e.g. navel), grapefruit, and lemon. When it comes to the zest component, you can substitute sweet oranges for Seville oranges at more-or-less a 1:1 ratio. Sweet orange zest is often a little less fragrant and punchy than it’s sour Seville cousin, but it will still do the job. Try adding a bit of grapefruit zest as well to round out the flavour. As for the juice, you DON’T want to use sweet orange juice as a 1:1 replacement, as it will be too sweet. Instead, try about 50% sweet orange juice, and 25% grapefruit juice, and 25% lemon juice. The grapefruit juice brings some of the herbal, floral quality to the mixture that you’d get from Seville orange, while lemons add a bright sourness that works really nicely.
If you only have sweet oranges and no other citrus, you could try reducing the amount of brown sugar by about a tablespoon and adding about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. You’ll get a different end product, but a very good one.
The Simple Art of Caramelizing Onions
I really, REALLY love caramelized onions. They’re one of those delicious, simple, contemplative foods to make. Treat them carefully and keep an eye on them, and they just kind of take care of themselves. If you’ve never made them before, don’t worry – they’re quite easy. The key is to avoid rushing and to keep an eye on the pan. I like to start out with a relatively hot pan, sauteing the onions to get the process on its way. Once that’s done and well before the onions start to brown, turn the heat down as low as you can get it and leave the onions, spread out in the pan, for as long as it takes for them to turn a deep golden brown. Resist the urge to stir them too often, but do make sure to spread them out evenly and avoid scorching on any hot spots. And if the pan or the onions ever starts to look dry, just add a little more bacon fat. Mmm, bacon fat.
Quail Eggs & The Croque-Petite
If you do decide to make the lovely little Croque-Petite sandwich/appetizers I mentioned above, there’s and not much to them. I like using a day-old baguette to make the little toasts. It’s a good way to use up leftover bread, and it works texturally. The quail eggs are delicious and the perfect size for these, making them ideal for sharing or snacking. That being said, frying perfect little sunny-side-up quail eggs can be a challenge. Trying to carefully crack a quail egg can be frustrating, as the bits of shell can pull away from large sections of the membrane beneath. I recommend peeling away a section of the egg, then trying to either gently pry the egg open over the pan, or cutting through the membrane with a small pair of kitchen scissors. Unless you have very delicate fingers, it’s a little too easy to accidentally press too hard and to basically explode the egg over the pan. Still tasty mind you, but not pretty.
If you’re looking for the same flavours in an easy meal for one or two, just use large pieces or bread, fry up some chicken eggs, and make full-sized sandwiches instead. Either way, they bacon marmalade is going to perfectly bring it all together.
Note: nutritional information is shown for the bacon marmalade ALONE, and not for any other ingredients. 1 serving reflects 1/12th of the total, or about 1.5 tablespoons.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
- 325 g thick cut bacon chopped
- 800 g sweet onion diced (about 5 cups, or 2 large onions)
- 1 seville orange (juice and zest)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cloves crushed
- 1/4 cup water
- Remove the zest from the Seville orange and set aside (see note). You should have about 1.5 tbsp. Once you've finished zesting the orange, cut it in half and squeeze out the juice. Strain the seeds and set the juice aside - you should have about 1/3 cup (80 ml).
- Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is a just a little bit crispy (about 6-7 minutes - longer if your pan is smaller and the bacon is crowded). Once the bacon is finished, remove it from the pan and set it aside to drain on a plate with some paper towel. Pour off the bacon fat and reserve 1.5 tbsp for the next step.
- Add the onions to the pan along with 1.5 tbsp bacon fat. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown a little. Add the orange zest, orange juice, spices, brown sugar, and reserved (drained) bacon. Stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and allow the onions to caramelize. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes. Stir occasionally (every 5 minutes or so) to ensure that everything is cooking evenly. If the pan begins to look too dry or the onions look like they're in danger of scorching, add a splash of water and/or little bit more bacon fat. Once the jam is thick and an even golden brown colour, remove it from heat.
- For a coarse, chunky jam/marmalade, you can leave the mixture as is. If you want to make the mixture into a spread (as I did), transfer the contents to a small food processor and blitz until the bacon and onions relatively small but still distinguishable. You want a spread with nice crispy and soft little bits, rather than a smooth paste.
- Serve bacon marmalade warm with toast, eggs, cheese, or just a spoon. Leftovers (if there are any) will keep in the fridge for several weeks and can be frozen for up to 6 months.
When zesting citrus, the easiest tool to use is generally a microplane. I dislike using box graters, as it's difficult to avoid grating into the bitter white pith. That being said, you can always go this route if you're careful. If you have a cocktail citrus zester (i.e. the ones with a line of small holes for peeling strips of zest), it can be a surprisingly quick and efficient way to remove the zest as well, though you'll have to chop the resulting strips of zest with a knife before using them.
If you're looking for a serving suggestion, try my 'croque-petite' sandwiches/appetizers. Simply slice some baguette into rounds, then top with melted smoked gouda (melt under the broiler to toast the bread), fried sunny-side-up quail eggs, cracked black pepper, a bit of chopped parsley, and a dollop (~1 tsp) of bacon marmalade. Want to make it a bigger sandwich for one? Simply scale up the quantities, use larger slices of bread, and fry a chicken egg instead.