Thursday, 11 December 2014

Parmesan Shortbread & Bacon Jam


'Tis the season to eat bacon jam. Actually there isn't a season when you shouldn't eat bacon jam. It should be eaten in every season and that's one of the many reasons why we love it so. The term 'jam' here should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Think part chutney, part relish, part jam. 

I tried bacon jam for the first time a couple of weeks ago (would you believe it), eat17 do a tasty little pot of it, and decided that I must make a homemade version as soon as possible. Being the Christmas party season when everyone likes lots of drinking and eating tiny food, I thought I'd combine the bacon jam with some ridiculously moreish Parmesan shortbread to fulfill all your canape needs. Just for those who have canape needs. It is most of us.

The parmesan shortbreads are wonderfully delicious and moreish but are also acting as enablers for the jam; if you want to just make the jam and eat it with a spoon (or on some toast with pickles mmm) then you are most welcome. It is splendid on burgers. 
If you want some fancy canape friends for your bacony parmesan guys, have a look at these: little tarts & little strudel

Parmesan shortbread with bacon jam & rosemary

Quantities: Canapes for about 20 people, extra bacon jam for later (about 500g in total)

Timings: 
Parmesan shortbread: 30 mins (can be made in advance)
Bacon Jam: 1 hour 10 mins (can be made in advance)

Kitchen Stuff: Rolling pin, pastry cutter, deep frying pan, pastry brush

*I didn't have a rolling pin or pastry cutter - I used a clingfilm roll and a shot glass, both which worked exceptionally so don't be put off if you don't have the stuff!*

Ingredients:  

Parmesan shortbread
225g butter
375g plain flour (I used Shipton Mill  type "00" which made it lovely and light)
200g parmesan cheese, grated
25g mature cheddar, grated
2 egg yolks (whites not needed)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 tbsp water
1 egg to glaze, whisked
a few rosemary sprigs

Bacon Jam
600g smoked rindless back bacon (or remove the rinds) 
3 large yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
150g (3/4 cup) brown sugar (I used 1/4 muscavado and the rest light brown packed sugar)
120ml (1/2 cup) strong brewed coffee (not instant)
1 1/2 tbsp good quality, thick balsamic vinegar
rapeseed oil
120ml (1/2 cup) water
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

Method 

Bacon Jam

1. BACON: Cube the bacon and add to a large frying pan with a tiny splosh of rapeseed oil. Cook over a medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring to break up the pieces and cook evenly, until the bacon is starting to brown and crisp (but you don't want it too crispy).

Remove the bacon from the pan to a separate bowl and keep a tbsp of bacon fat in the pan.

2. ONIONS: Add your sliced onions to the pan with another little splosh of rapeseed oil and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft and starting to brown a little. Turn the heat to low and add the sugar. Stir in the sugar and cook until the onions have caramelized (very brown and sticky), about 20 mins. 

Add the coffee, water, bacon, chilli flakes and rosemary, a touch of salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring every few minutes, until the onions are thick and jam like (about 30 mins)

3. BALSAMIC: Remove the jam from the heat and stir in the balsamic, one tbsp at a time. Taste and add more or less if necessary, along with some seasoning. 

5. FRIDGE IT: Use immediately or keep it in the fridge for a week or so.

Parmesan Shortbread

1. MIX: Cut the butter into cubes and put it in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flour. With your fingers, rub the butter and flour together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs (will take about 5 mins). 

2. DOUGH: Add the grated cheese, whisked egg yolks, cayenne pepper and enough water to make a stiff dough. Add the water a little at a time as you don't want the dough too wet. Mix well into a ball of dough, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour before rolling.

3. ROLL: Preheat the oven to 190C. Lightly dust your surface with flour and roll the dough out in a circle to about 2cm thick. Use your pastry cutter to make as many little discs as possible from the first rolled piece of dough and put aside. Squidge the left over dough together into a ball and put it back in the fridge.

4. GLAZE: Place each biscuit on a baking sheet slightly apart from each other. Brush with egg wash from your whisked egg and sprinkle with a tiny amount of cayenne pepper to add some red flecks.

5. BAKE: Bake for approximately 12-16 minutes (mine were perfect at 15) until the shortbread are crisp and golden. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool and repeat with the left over dough. They keep well for about 5 days in an airtight container. You can also make the dough in advance and freeze or refrigerate it.

CANAPES ASSEMBLE:

To assemble your canapes, plop a small amount of bacon jam in the centre of a parmesan shortbread and sprinkle with some finely chopped rosemary. When serving, decorate the plate with rosemary sprigs and try not to eat all of them yourself.