Just when I think I’ve tried everything (not really, but some days are more uninspiring than others) something comes along that is so much better than the sum of its familiar parts. Had I flipped past a recipe for bacon and tomato jam I would have certainly done a double take, but I’m not sure this would have jumped off the page and grabbed me – but when Shauna came to visit in Tofino and brought a copy of their latest book, she looked me straight in the eye as she handed it to me and said, “try the bacon and tomato jam.”
It seemed at first as if she was speaking in code, like I was meant to read more into her message. I wasn’t. She just meant to make it clear that I should make the damn jam. And so I did.
This is not jam in the typical sense of the word – it’s sweet on account of the roasted tomatoes and bits of apple, but it’s not sugary, like strawberry jam or most almost candied bacon jams. It doesn’t gel, like breakfasty sorts of jams – it’s more a mash-up of delicious things. It’s not as tangy as chutney, but really its own thing – and I’m not exaggerating when I say I ate almost the whole batch straight from the pan with a fork, and barely saved enough to make a couple sandwiches.
You start by roasting tomatoes, which is not really a big deal – halve them, spread them out on a sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until they sort of slump in on themselves, and start getting dark and caramelized on their edges. Then you get some bacon going in a pan, and some onion and garlic – and then the tomatoes and apple and balsamic. Somehow it comes together into something that’s completely divine – and almost a sandwich filling of its own accord.
I would eat this striaght-up on toast. But why wouldn’t you add a fried egg?
I took Shauna’s advice and spread it on bread, and added an egg – this on a crusty baguette, but you could of course use any kind of sandwich bread. Crusty seems like a good idea. Mike commented between bites that it tasted like something you’d get at a restaurant – at Market, or something – and I imagine it would elevate a grilled cheese quite nicely. I’ve had sandwiches on the brain since being asked to be a judge – along with Bob Blumer – of Canada’s Best Sandwich contest, hosted by ACE Bakery to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. There will be winners in each region, and each receive $1000 plus $1000 for their favourite charity. BUT. We then choose 4 finalists who get to fly to Toronto in October – with me! – and we spend a day cooking and then choosing a winner, who will receive $20,000 – $10,000 for our winner plus $10,000 for their favourite charity. How awesome is that? I love the charitable aspect – I would love to present one of my favourite charities with a cheque for ten grand. Wouldn’t that be grand? (And I would love to take my own ten and spend it on a new fridge/stove/dishwasher. Or a trip to Paris. Or take my niece to a soccer game in Spain. Or…)
But seriously. Try the jam.