As promised, I continue on the holiday theme bringing today a very tasty idea for an appetizer. Let’s start by discussing these really versatile pre-baked fillo shells (aka phyllo ‘FEE-loh’). Available in most grocery freezer sections, they can be transformed to either a sweet or savory nibble perfect for any occasion. From freezer to table in 10 minutes they make a great fall back plan for unexpected or last-minute visitors. I have been known to fill them with a sweet potato or pecan mixture for mini pies, sautéed mushrooms with sherry, fruit compote and an egg scramble for bite sized brunch treats to name a few. They are a perfect crunchy vehicle for endless creations. Anything is possible, so let your imagination run wild!
That said, let’s move on to the star of the day, Bacon Jam. Hugely popular on many restaurant menus, the pig, especially its belly, is making itself heard in the current food scene. There are “Baconfest Celebrations” popping up in many cities where this salty staple is being paired with chocolate, maple glazed, frozen for ice cream and transformed in many other wild and crazy ways. Bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore. My introduction to bacon jam came as a condiment on a burger at a local bistro. I was intrigued when I saw it on the menu but was a bit disappointed when it arrived and presented itself as far too sweet for my palate. The concept was sound but the execution needed tweaking in my opinion. Searching for ways to transform the idea, I came across today’s recipe which incorporates bourbon, molasses and maple syrup. I decreased the amount of sugar it called for to compensate for the two above mentioned ingredients. The addition of apple cider vinegar and the bourbon balanced out the sweetness as well and the hot sauce contributes a hint of heat. After making a batch and using it as a flavor enhancer for beans and a topper for omelets, I decided on the following appetizer combination.
Here’s how it goes down.
Baked Brie w/ Bourbon Bacon Jam Makes 30
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
30 prebaked mini fillo shells (such as, Athena)
8 oz. wheel of Brie cheese, room temperature
½ recipe of bacon bourbon jam, cooled (see below)
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place fillo shells on a baking sheet.
- Unwrap the brie (I like to let mine sit out for a couple of days to ripen a bit) and carefully remove the top skin with a sharp knife. It is ok if a bit is left on.
- Using the small end of a melon baller or a spoon, scoop a small amount into each of the shells.
- With the same baller or spoon, top each with a dollop of the bacon jam.
- Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
- Garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.
Bourbon Bacon Jam Recipe
Author: Savory Sweet Life / Alice Currah Makes: 1 cup
A sweet and tangy bacon condiment
- 1 pound uncooked sliced bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ½ cup strongly brewed coffee
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup granulated white sugar (I used only ¼ cup and it was plenty sweet enough for me)
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco Brand Garlic Pepper Sauce (or hot sauce of choice, I used Trader Joes jalapeno sauce)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- Tiny pinch of ground cloves
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until cooked and brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Carefully remove all the oil from the pan except for one tablespoon. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Then add the coffee, vinegar, sugar, molasses, and Tabasco Brand Garlic Pepper Sauce.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and add the bacon back. Reduce the temperature to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat.
- Add the maple syrup, bourbon, and cloves. Scrape everything from the bottom of the pan and stir. Allow the mixture to cool before serving.
The creaminess of the cheese paired with the salty bacon jam and crunchy shell makes the perfect marriage. A one bite delight, I served these on Halloween when I was visited by some special friends and their children. They were enthusiastically gobbled up even among the younger set. I also featured them in a recent class, “Holiday Appetizers,” where they were met with equal enthusiasm. I do believe these babies will be making an appearance on many tables this season. Praise the lard!
I have already decided that this condiment will be perfect as an accompaniment to my post Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. I can’t wait to try it. The combination of flavors reminds me of the classic Club Sandwich just add lettuce and tomato and you have it made. We will commune again before the big feast but if you are like me, your mind is already formulating ideas for spreading the love one dish, or in this case, one bite, at a time. There is love in my kitchen and I send it on to yours. Until next time, Jeanne