Everything you loved about my viral ultimate cranberry recipe but kicked up to an adult version with the addition of bacon, bourbon and heat! Seriously addictive, deliciously simply!
If you’re a fan of that jellified, squishy, ridiculously odd-textured cranberry jelly that comes from a can then this recipe isn’t for you. No, this recipe is for the brave, the adventurous and the rebels out there. Or… pretty much for anyone that wants a freaking killer cranberry relish recipe with a twist. This is that cranberry relish you’d expect to find at some gnarly hole-in-the-wall dive bar that makes some of the best underground foods. It’s simplistic and almost delicate looking but that’s where the princessness stops and the fierce biker babe comes into play.
Wait so does that mean I just gave my cranberry relish a gender? Is it a girl? *shrugs* sure why not. LOL It’s pretty, sexy and alluring on the outside but on the inside it’s wicked and bold. I’m down with that.
I actually have been making this version for a few years as I wanted a more in-your-face version. Oh don’t get me wrong, I still freaking LOVE my original recipe but ever since making my spicy red pepper jelly, I couldn’t help but wonder what this relish would taste like if I added some heat to it. And since I can’t leave well enough alone AND bacon pretty much is the best thing in the world (next to my husband and teacup pigs.. oh and Channing Tatum dancing) I decided it needed bacon in it. And since you all know how much I love the combination of bourbon and bacon, I had to add me some Kentucky straight bourbon to the pot.
It’s funny as while I was making this recipe and taking photos, I had someone write me a note asking for a 2.0 version of this. Krysten I actually giggled when I read your request and asking when to add bacon, bourbon and jalapeno. Perfect timing!
Now this recipe, just like my last one you can totally go with however much sugar you like. For this one, since you want the heat, go with just a cup. You can always add more as it is bubbling away. Just be careful when you taste it as it will be hot. The other thing is the heat… you can totally go with minced jalapeno or even hotter peppers. I like heat but I also don’t want to breathe (or poof) fire so I went with about 1 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes to the dish. It had a great balance of tang, heat and sweetness. Plus the undertone the bourbon adds to it in the back-end is incredible.
And then there’s bacon…
God I love bacon.
So the bacon I choose not to add to the bubbling/boiling mixture as I found, on the first attempt, is the crispy bacon got almost gummy-like. It still had a great flavor but the texture was so off-putting that I actually pitched the entire batch. That’s when I decided to add the bacon once it was all done cooking. The texture didn’t get gummy and you still got that amazing bacon flavor infused into the relish. I made some early in the morning and by that night, the bacon flavor was so perfectly balanced in the relish that I literally sat there and ate it by the spoonful!
Now the question… why to do with it? Well, this is amazing over top a block of softened cream cheese and served with crackers or crostini. This ROCKS on a badboy turkey sandwich with peppered bacon (because one can never have too much bacon), melted cheddar and arugula. Oh, don’t forget about adding it to your favorite wrap or on top of pork. I made a pork tenderloin and ladled this on (warmed up) of the pork before serving and my guests went insane over it. I’ve put this on pizza (yes, pizza) and even on eggs. There’s really no wrong place to put this. And yes, it totally rocks in a cookie or cake! This, in a savory hand pie … seriously, shut the front door!Print
- 1 – 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (really depends on how sweet you like your relish)
- 1/3 cup cranberry juice (or can use orange juice)
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1– 2 tsp red pepper flakes (the more you add, the hotter the heat)
- 1/2–3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 strips cooked, crispy bacon minced
- 16 ounce bag fresh cranberries
- In a large, heavy saucepan, add sugar, juice, bourbon, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and grated ginger.
- Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, syrup is clear and comes to a rolling boil, about 3 minutes.
- In a colander, rinse and pick over the cranberries to remove any mushy ones.
- Add cranberries to boiling syrup and continue cooking, uncovered, just until they begin to pop, about 2-5 minutes (set the timer). Be careful not to cook them too long or they will get mushy.
- Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard.
- Remove from heat, stir in minced bacon and cool to room temperature, uncovered.
- Once cooled, store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for later.