This bodacious, super flavorful turkey bacon marmalade will become your new go-to condiment

Maybe five or six years ago, I happened to stop at a small, unassuming eatery about a half hour from my house because I was starved and thought I’d pick something up on the way home. Called Catchy, it doubles as both a storefront and a catering business.

There was no one else there except for someone behind the counter (who turned out to be the owner) and a cook, so instead of automatically getting something to go, I opted to stay and dine in at one of the few white tables scattered in the small storefront, which had a set of white double doors that opened up into a tiny courtyard with a small, backyard wrought iron table.

I perused the menu, dotted with soups, salads and sandwiches galore, as well as some additional options like pastas and grain bowls  along with a towering refrigerator on the opposing wall stocked with tons of jams, jellies, sauces and the like.

I ended up going pretty retro and unadorned, ordering a grilled cheese and fries, but the grilled cheese happened to have a bacon jam on it. I sat at the table closest to the counter, chitchatting with the owner, until my food came out.

And I was blown away.

It was served in one of those plastic “baskets” you might get from an amusement park food kiosk, lined with decorated wax paper, but the food itself was so far from pedestrian. The fries were, quite possibly, the single crispiest fry I’ve ever eaten  and with just the right amount of salt. The grilled cheese was immensely gooey and rich, the bread perfectly crisped and with great structural integrity, with no bread slipping or overtly melted cheese causing an absolute mess.

But the piece de resistance was most certainly the bacon jam.

It was the most beguiling mixture of pork-y, fatty, miniscule pieces of uber-crisp bacon melded together with some sort of jammy-sweet-deeply savory amalgamation. I shoveled every bite of grilled cheese, bacon jam and french fries into my mouth as quickly as possible before fawning over the food to the owner and cook and running out the door, certain that I’d return again and again to get as much of that bacon jam as possible.

Then COVID happened. Then I gave up pork. I haven’t been back in quite a while. What I am sure of, though, is that that bacon jam was formative for me, so I took it upon myself to create another version, with turkey bacon instead of pork, that hit on all the same textural and flavor notes and so that I could eat it in every possible which way. And I then proceeded to do exactly that.

Warning: There’s no way this will last very long, but keep it in the fridge and pull it out whenever you want to slather some immensely delicious, wildly well-balanced flavor and texture on practically anything you eat.

Turkey bacon & maple marmalade


8 to 10 strips turkey bacon, finely chopped

1 large onion, peeled and finely minced

2 to 3 shallots, peeled and finely minced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup

2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic or Sherry vinegar

Dash ground cinnamon

Dash ground mustard

A splash of coffee

A splash of fruit juice, optional

Dried herbs, optional



  1. Add bacon to a deep pot over medium-low heat, adding a touch of oil to help move it along. Stir often until very, very crisp, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add onions and shallots, stir well, and cook for another 10 minutes. 
  3. Add garlic and let toast for a minute until fragrant. Stir well, lowering the heat if anything is starting to scorch. 
  4. Add syrup, vinegar, cinnamon and mustard, stirring well until well combined. Let syrup caramelize until slightly tacky and aromatic, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Add coffee and juice, if using. Turn heat to low and stir, cooking for another 5 minutes.
  6. Finish with dried herbs and a touch of water, if the mixture is getting too dry. 
  7. Pardon my French, but you’re going to really need to cook the s**t out of this to take it to its most flavorful capacity. Keep the heat very low, make sure there’s enough liquid, stir frequently, but you want the end result to make the onion and the bacon almost indistinguishable from each other. The final product should be viscous, very thick and smell incredibly rich. Add water if the mixture gets too dry but still needs some cook-time. The whole cooking process shouldn’t take more than an hour.
  8. Transfer to a jar or food storage container, let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate. Use within a week.

Cook’s Notes

-If you’re not into turkey bacon, you can also sub. in pork, beef, chicken, or plant-based, if you’d rather.

-Do your darnedest to cut the onion and shallot as finely as possible, about the same size as the bacon pieces.

-I’ve mainly been eating this on a ridiculously hard-seared Impossible burger topped with melted, plant-based Cheddar and a touch of some mayonnaise or aioli to help the jam “adhere” to the bun. It’s exceptional. But it’s also great as a topping for French fries, over a hot dog, as a spread on any sandwich imaginable, served with crudite or, or course, added liberally to a grilled cheese.

-Feel free to swap in agave or molasses if you’re not a fan of maple syrup, toss in some brown sugar if you’re into that, or even add some dried herbs (like chives) at the very end to round it all out. 

-The depth of flavor here is genuinely bonkers, so don’t use too much at once. A little goes a long way, truly.

-In regards to the coffee, feel free to throw in a touch of whatever you have on hand; I literally just splashed in some leftover black Dunkin’ Americano that I had on hand and the bitter notes were perfect. A drizzle of some cola could work, too. 

-The fruit component isn’t necessary, but it helps to add another dimension of flavor. I’d go with a cherry or orange juice, not an extract.

-Do not use regular mustard here; you’ll need dry, or just omit it.

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