Mushrooms make a worthy substitute to meat generally. I use them in place of meat in endless dishes. Are they a substitute for bacon? That is the million dollar question on nobody’s mind. Having recently reinvigorated my love for Dan Doherty’s brilliant Bacon Jam.. I really felt I needed a guilt (i.e. meat) free version. I do believe I’ve conceived a pretty excellent substitute if I do say so myself. I just don’t think that mushroom jam is a very appetising name, but mushroom chutney or relish aren’t much better.
Don’t judge a dish by its name.
In an ideal world, this would probably be made with a mixture of mushrooms for texture and flavour… portobellos, shiitakes and oyster. I’ve tested the recipe with the lowest common denominator mushroom though – your basic white mushroom. If the ‘facon’ jam is an essential recipe with your cornershop closed cups, it must be truly divine with your fancy fungi.
The fundamentals of the bacon jam are still there.. chipotle.. treacle.. but without that distinct essence of bacon. I do believe I’ve conceived a pretty excellent substitute if I do say so myself. Suitable for vegans and carnivores alike. I use it to pep up my favourite breakfast bap of a fried egg and edam cheese, but it works with a cheeseboard, in quesadillas, as a dip or in toasties. Makes a mean vegan BLT with some crispy fried tofu slices, vegan mayo, lettuce and a tablespoon of the smoky chipotle mushroom jam. The possibilities, like my appetite, are infinite.
750g mushrooms (about two punnets of shrooms)
4 tbsp (60ml) of light soy sauce, the watery soy sauce
250g red onion (about two medium red onions)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried chipotle (or regular) chilli flakes
3 tbsp light brown soft sugar
50g black treacle (3 tbsp)
75ml white wine vinegar
2 shots of espresso (either fresh or made from the instant espresso)
10g marmite (2 tsp)
1 380ml jar (I reuse a medium mayo jar)
Roughly chop your mushrooms into a mix of 1cm and 2cm dice. Leave to marinade in the 60ml of soy sauce for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile. sterilise your clean jar in a 150C oven for 15 minutes and leave to cool.
Get a frying pan over a medium-high heat, drain off any excess soy sauce from the mushrooms and proceed to dry-frying them in batches. You must fry your mushrooms in four batches or they’ll steam and not caramelise. You want a good colour, golden-brown but not burnt. They’ll shrink as they cook.
Once your mushrooms are browned, leave to one side while you finely dice your onion and crush the garlic cloves. Set 2 tbsps of olive oil over a low heat and slowly sweat the onions and garlic until soft but not coloured. Don’t rush it – it’ll take about 20 minutes.
While your onions are sweating, mix your a) ingredients in a small bowl, and your b) ingredients in a second bowl. I find it easier to weight the b) ingredients as the treacle and marmite are hard to spoon.
Once your onions are nice and soft, increase the heat under the pan to medium and re-add your mushrooms and your a) ingredients. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Once the kitchen is full of the smoky spicy aroma, add your b) ingredients and give the pan a good stir. Once the pan has started to bubble, turn the heat down and start to simmer very gently for about 45 minutes, stirring regularly.
The mushroom jam is quite dry, like a Branston’s pickle, but you don’t want the pan to dry out so add a few tablespoons of water if your pan starts to dry out. Once you’ve got your sticky, pickle texture, season to taste. I find a teaspoon of fine sea salt is perfect for my taste.
Give a good stir to disperse the salt and scrape your ‘facon’ jam into the prepared jar where it can last for up to two weeks, should it survive that long uneaten.