by Franky Vivid
Chicago inspires many things for me.
Especially during the Summer months. There really is no place I’d rather be this time of year save a few trips to the Vieux Carré. Dining al fresco. Flouncy skirts being attacked by lothario winds. Walking on Oak Street Beach. This city just oozes history, too. Sally Rand, Little Egypt, the 606 Club.
And I like being a part of that – creating it even. Playboy (R.I.P.) was founded here combining, among other things, beautifully unclad ladies and future literary giants. mL’ and I carry on that tradition with Naked Girls Reading, which recently hosted its first ever cooking event.
They kindly asked me to cook a small plate for the crowd, which is the recipe that follows.
Chicago was my inspiration for it. For over a century, starting in 1865, Chicago was known as the “hog butcher to the world”. Union Stockyards opened that year and peaked around 1924 when more meat was processed in
Chicago than any other city in the world. A comedian friend of mine, Adam Burke, likes to kid Chicago-based vegetarians saying there is no such thing. He contends that breathing Chicago air is the same as putting 147 years of meat into your lungs. Meat air. If only…
So, if you’re a vegetarian you can skip this one…even though I talked a pescetarian friend of mine into trying a smidge on Friday…
HamJam Bacon Spread
Cut bacon crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Dice onions into small pieces. Peel garlic cloves and “shmince” (smash them with the flat of a chef’s knife and then mince).
Cook bacon over medium/high heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a stack of paper towels to drain and pour out all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat. Add onions and shminced garlic to the skillet and cook about 6 minutes. Onions should start to get “glassy” at this point. Add coffee, brown sugar, syrup and vinegar and bring to a rolling simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir often with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape any bits off the bottom. Remove from heat and stir in bacon.
Put mixture in a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. When liquid is syrupy, transfer mixture to a blender and pulse until chopped to the desired consistency. Let mixture cool and refrigerate in airtight containers.