Today’s lessons: Science fiction and bacon are strangely linked (Just ask John Scalzi) and Twitter is strange.
This all started the other day when Cat Rambo brought up bacon pie on Twitter. It was a joke, I think, but I suggested that bacon jam might work well in a pecan pie, one thing led to another, and the fine folks at The Bacon Jams sent me a sample to try it out.
Pecan pie is one of my favorite pies, so this was no great sacrifice. Now, I would like to be one of those people who can make a perfect pie crust from scratch and it’s beautiful and flaky and tender. But I am not one of those people, and fortunately there is frozen pie crust at the nearby Trader Joe’s.
I say “fortunately”, but it really was not actually all that fortunate in the event. I thawed the crust, and took it out and start to unroll it. It is not unusual to have a crack or two in this process. That’s OK, you just sort of smoosh it together, and if you’re lucky there’s not really that much repair work.
Today, it turned out, was not my lucky day. In fact, this was kinda ridiculous. The other crust was like this, too. Fortunately, I picked up something else at Trader Joe’s that helped tremendously.
On the advice of the resident Maker of Real Pie (my fiancée), I smashed the strips together into a ball, let it rest in the fridge while we had dinner, and then rolled it out again.
There we go.
While that was blind-baking in the oven, I assembled the filling. I combined a couple different recipes, using Alton Brown’s version as a base. That’s:
- Three large eggs, beaten well.
- 6 oz light Karo syrup (not Lite) and maple syrup (mostly Karo; maybe 1 oz B-grade maple, for flavor)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract + a couple dashes of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
- 3.5 oz brown sugar and white sugar
- 4 Tbsp melted butter (cooled so it doesn’t cook the egg)
This stage would have gone much more easily had I sifted the sugar a little better beforehand, but otherwise was unremarkable.
Once it was ready, I assembled the pie.
Bottom layer, about 2/3s of the jar of bacon jam, spread unevenly. I wanted the liquid filling to be able to get down into the bottom so that the pie would stay together, and I generally like a less-homogenous slice of pie: every bite a little different.
After that came the nuts. I had a bit of a quandary here. I had an 8oz bag of pecans, which is what the recipe for a 9″ pie usually calls for. But I didn’t know how much volume was taken up by the jam. And worse, thanks to having to re-roll the pie crust (and then not using pie weights when blind-baking) the crust shrank, giving me still less volume. So I eyeballed it, and probably managed about 6.5 oz.
I poured the liquid filling over that, and had a half cup or so left over. I poured it over some of the remaining nuts in a ramekin. (I shall call you… Mini-Pie)
And then baked! Our electric oven is terrible, so it wound up taking almost 40 minutes. And then it was, like all pecan pies, basically napalm in a crust. So I let it sit overnight.
But you know what that means: pie for breakfast!
All told, it worked out pretty well. I was expecting the bacon part to be saltier than it was, and that would have helped make it stand out more, but in retrospect that less-salty aspect is probably what one wants out of a jam. If I were to do this again, I would either add salt or use a more savory version. Also, Alton Brown’s recipe calls for a little bit of bourbon along with the vanilla. I left it out here so as not to overpower the bacon, and that was the right answer, but I could also have stood to reduce the vanilla a tad. Maybe a drop of liquid smoke? I did like the maple syrup, but one has to be careful with that, since it affects the consistency of the pie. The Lee Brothers cookbook recommends sorghum syrup in place of Karo; that might be a good compromise.
Anyway, there you have it: bacon jam pecan pie.