The importance of the kitchen.

We live in a chaotic paced techno-modern time, where everything is literally at our fingertips—the miracle (curse?) of cell phones. Now, more than ever, the value in disconnecting from technology and plugging back in to the actual lives around us cannot be underestimated. For us, this natural, real life revolves around the kitchen. It becomes a place to break bread, catch-up on the day’s events, and simply communicate in person and not by text. We relish the opportunity to share a meal with family and friends. And no meal would be complete without some cider to accompany it! Here is a simple, tasty small bite to get the conversation going in your kitchen. Invite some family and friends over, unplug, unwind, break some bread (or a biscuit) and enjoy! Pairs well with the Honest Farmer and the Emperor.

Smoked Cheddar Biscuits with Bacon Jam

For the smoked cheddar biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp cold butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cold large egg
  • 1 cup smoked cheddar cheese (grated)

Preheat Oven to 425ºF.
Mix together in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle: flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter (a little at a time) in to the flour mixture and blend until butter is the size of small peas.

In another bowl, combine and beat lightly the buttermilk and egg and slowly add this wet mixture to the flour mixture. Mix cheese with a small handful of flour and fold into mixture while mixer is still on low. Mix until roughly combined. Take out and knead on a lightly floured surface about 6 times. Roll out to a rectangle and, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into desired shape/sizes. We have used a cookie cutter, and also just eyeballed it and cut into squares or triangles. If desired, mix one egg white with 1 tablespoon of water or milk and brush the tops with it. Sprinkle with salt. Put on parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are browned and cooked through.

For the bacon jam:

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into about ½-1 inch pieces
  • 8 shallots (or 2 medium yellow onions), cut into smallish dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (or use less, depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chocolate balsamic (a regular, good balsamic will also work)

In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towel lined plate to drain.
Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the drippings from the skillet and reserve. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Season generously with black pepper. Add coffee, vinegar, sugar, syrup and balsamic and bring to boil. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom, for 2 minutes. Add bacon back in and stir.
Reduce the heat to bare simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Let bacon jam cool slightly before transferring to a food processor and pulsing until coarsely chopped. Spoon over the biscuits, or store covered. You can make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate. If you do, make sure to warm it up in a pan before serving.

Putting it all together:

Take a biscuit. Spoon some warm jam over the biscuit. Take a bite. Smile. Sip some cider. Repeat.