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Top Chef finalist Kevin Gillespie wowed the judges early in season 6 with this recipe for bacon jam. He braises bacon with onion, brown sugar, chicken broth, and Espelette pepper, then blends it into a sweet-savory jam. Toss it with split fresh okra pods that are charred in a cast-iron skillet to remove some of their characteristic slime. Spread the leftover bacon jam on toast or biscuits with eggs, or layer it into a tasty meatloaf or egg salad sandwich.
What to buy: Piment d’Espelette is France’s only native pepper, and it is so highly revered that it is protected by AOC status. It has a nice heat and is worth seeking out at a gourmet grocery or online. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute hot paprika.
Game plan: The bacon jam can be cooled to room temperature and then refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm before using.
For the okra: