Darrene’s Onion-Bacon-Serrano Jam
(Makes a lot less than you think it will, but it’s super rich.)
1 pound excellent smoked bacon, strips cut into 1/2” pieces
1-1/2 pounds yellow onions, peeled, halved pole-to-pole, then sliced (you can do this in the food processor if you like), about 3 large onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup very strong coffee
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (plus more to taste)
1-3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (preferably roasted vegetable stock)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (plus more to taste)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2-3 Serrano chile peppers, seeded and ribs removed, minced fine (If they’re really hot Serranos, use two, or go for the third if you like it that way)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika (plus more to taste)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Put the bacon pieces in a large non-stick skillet (12″ is good, 14 is better) for which you also have a lid. Set the pan over medium heat and cook until the bacon is really crisp and brown. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon and set the bacon aside. Pour the bacon fat into a measuring cup, then put half of it back into the skillet (you’ll have a total of about a half a cup after cooking the bacon, keep the other half for another use). When the bacon’s cooled, chop it up into even smaller pieces — they’ll soften up in the jam mixture more easily that way.
Stir the onions into the bacon fat in the skillet, turn the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan. Cook the onions for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and stir the onions up. They will have shrunk down a lot and may be starting to brown, that’s OK. Replace the lid and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir the onions, and continue to cook until the whole thing is lightly browned. Add the minced garlic and Serranos and continue to caramelize the onions until they’re a nice brown.
Stir in the chopped-up bacon, then stir in the brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook for a minute, stirring. Meanwhile, combine the stock, coffee, and vinegar in a large glass measuring cup (you’ll have 3 cups total), and heat in the microwave until hot. Add 1 cup of the hot stock mixture into the skillet and stir it in. Bring the mixture to a simmer if it isn’t already, then lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid is almost all gone. It will take about 20 minutes. You don’t have to stir it constantly, just every few minutes. Repeat two more times, heating the stock mixture and adding it in a cup at a time, cooking it all down until you don’t see liquid in the bottom of the skillet (you will see bacon fat, that’s OK).
Using a heatproof rubber spatula, scrape every bit of the contents of the skillet into a food processor and pulse the mixture until it’s smoother but just a little chunky. Return it to the skillet, then taste it for vinegar, sweetness, salt, and heat — adding Cayenne pepper if you’d like more heat, or more smoked paprika; also vinegar and more maple syrup if needed. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the mixture darkens in color even more. Don’t let it burn, but it will definitely darken. Scrape the jam mixture into a small bowl to cool.
If you’re not going to serve it that day, put the mixture in a jar and pour a little bit of the reserved bacon fat over to cover the top, then put the lid on the jar. Refrigerate it for up to a few days. Serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.