With what seems like summer starting to wind down – seriously where did it go? I honesty can’t remember doing any really summer-related other than working. Anyway, as I was saying with it winding down it seems the gardens are producing their last bit of tomatoes for the season. By now you’re probably canned a billion jars, made marinara sauce out the wazoo, made some tomato tarts and are still left with a bunch of them. You’ve taken them to work, given them to neighbors and it’s as if it’s there is no end in sight. Well this was me only I wasn’t the grower, I was the one given a bunch of tomatoes. (YEAH ME!!!) Eventually when our house is done with the remodel and we’re injury free I can have a normal life and grow a garden. I so miss that. Don’t miss the bugs but I miss growing my own herbs and veggies!
For about a week that huge bag of tomatoes sat on my counter just staring at me all fat, plump and red. Just begging to be turned into something delicious. I wasn’t feeling making tomato sauce, marinara or Italian Gravy as I have a bunch already canned. As I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking my protein shake while staring at those tomatoes in the background the song ‘Lady Marmalade’ came on, the remake. As I belted out my best Christina impersonation (which is really, really, REALLY bad) I stopped mid chorus. While I’m sure Mr. Fantabulous (and the neighboring dogs) were thankful the word marmalade stuck in my head. Hmmmm Tomato Marmalade… why not?!
I’ve made tomato jams before but I wanted something a bit more thick and with more depth in flavor. I wanted this more of a marmalade that I could use as a spread, pizza topping/sauce or a condiment on a chorizo burger.
Most tomato jams start with caramelized onions, butter and tomatoes. Add in a few other ingredients and you’re set. But this time, this time I wanted to put this puppy on steroids and blow it out of the water. I wanted this to blow your mind, knock your socks off and make you want to kiss the cook all from that very taste! Pretty tall order to fill huh? Yeah but I was up for the challenge. As I was going through my original recipe I realized, while it was good, it was one dimensional. I want more chutzpah to it. More audacity. I wanted it to smack your taste buds and make them succumb to their proverbial knees. Um that is, if they had knees. But you get where I’m going with this.
For me to take this to the next level was to add bacon and some liquid smoke. However the result didn’t just skip a level or two. Oh no this sucker skipped levels and went straight to the roof top! This was a pure steroid rush on a spoon!
But before I babble on about steroidal marmalades, just look.. no LOOK at that cutting board! 2 of my awesome co-workers got that for me last year just because! Of course it’s a pig and I love, Love, LOVE it!!! It reminds me of the ones my Mom had when I was growing up. All of my brothers took wood shop in high school and each of them made her a pig cutting board. God what I wouldn’t give to have one of those. I took wood shop in 8th grade (cause it was required). I ended up making a bench. I still have it and use it to this day.
Did you ever find yourself in the kitchen cooking up something and the smell alone was mouthwatering? Like sauteed onions, garlic or bacon? God I love those smells. The smell this makes while cooking is probably one of the best smells ever. I mean even better than chocolate cake baking! It’s rich and sweet but savory and the smell of the cooked bacon melded with the caramelized onions just seduces you and makes you stand there gawking at it. Your tummy starts to grumble and you just can’t wait for this to be done so you can dive right in!
About half way through the cooking of this I snuck a taste. Oh WOW it was awesome but… yeah, but. It still was ‘flat’. Don’t get me wrong it was great as-is but the taste quite wasn’t there.. yet. By adding just a bit of liquid smoke (remember not a lot as this stuff is potent!) and letting it cook into the marmalade oh dear sweet lord have mercy! I had to leave the kitchen for a few just so I wouldn’t stand there and eat the whole thing!
Seriously is that cutting board not the cutest thing ever?! LOVE it! Yeah I’m a dork but ya love me *wink* But what you are going to love even more is this marmalade! It’s thick and shiny and with hints of smokey bacon oniony awesomeness! It tastes of ripe late-season tomatoes and has a deep rich taste that is unlike any marmalade you’ve ever had. Spread this marmalade on crostini and top with a sharp or pungent cheese. Grill up some flat bread, put a slathering of this marmalade on top with some salami and arugula. Don’t even get me started on this over warmed roasted turkey and pork! OY!
Or… just grab a spoon!
I know a ton of you are going to ask so let’s talk now…canning. Can you can/jar/preserve this? The simple answer YES. BUT… you cannot use a water bath canner on this. It has meat in it. You have to use a pressure canner for this. A water bath canner will not get the temperature high enough to kill off any bacteria. So if you want to can it but do not have a pressure canner, then omit the bacon or make a few jars and keep them in the fridge. It should last about 2 weeks.
I don’t own a pressure canner but seriously after tasting this I’m highly considering one! This would make AWESOME Christmas baskets when visiting friends and family! Jar up a few pints of this, throw in some fresh crusty breads, a few wedges of cheese, imported Italian meats (God my friend’s Dad makes amazing sopressata) and a bottle of wine. Heck I’d welcome you with open arms if you made me this!
Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are the cooking time may be slightly less than an hour or slightly more. Please refrain from cranking the heat up on this to help speed up the process. Trust me, you’re going to want it to cook low and slow. Now for me, since I’m a texture freak I needed to pulse this down a bit to remove some of the big chunks and leave only a few. This is totally your call.
So other than these few crackers that I just had to eat from the photo shoot, wanna know the first thing I put this one (okay other than a spoon too… man you people are good!) – grilled flatbread pizza! OMG! I used this as the sauce and topped it with fresh mozzarella. HOLY COW! It’s sweet, savory, smoky and flat out sultry… like me *wink* hahaPrint
- 2lbs ripe plum or roma tomatoes, chopped
- 8 slices bacon, chopped into 1” pieces
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped into small pieces
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp Sriracha
- 2 1/2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
- 1–2 tsp liquid smoke
- In a large pot, fry up the bacon pieces til crispy.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon pieces placing them on a paper towel to drain.
- Drain all but 1 Tbl of the bacon grease, discard.
- Place the onions, tomatoes, sugar, Sriracha, vinegar, salt and pepper into the pot turning up the heat to high.
- Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is at a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add in the bacon and liquid smoke.
- Stir and cook for 1 hour or until the mixture has thickened, stirring often.
- Place the mixture into a Standard Blender or using an Immersion Blender , pulse until desired thickness.
- Transfer to a lidded jar and store in the fridge.
I highly recommend either of these Immersion Blenders based on your budget!
If you’re looking for a great standard blender, go with this one!
Hey wait a min… what’s this??? *grin* THIS is a future recipe for a great appetizer!