Anyone who knows me, knows that I love using culinary byproducts (as any chef should). What can we salvage, use and re-use? My current obsession is the dried, coffee poached bacon bits that I have in my walk-in.

This past week, we ran ham with red eye gravy as one of our nightly specials. Traditionally, you deglaze a pan of country ham fat (or bacon fat) with some strong, black coffee, maybe sweeten it a touch, and serve it as a gravy on country ham.  We had to make a few adjustments here.  Because of the volume needed, we were using bacon to flavor a large pot of “coffee stock”. In addition to the bacon fat, one of my cooks finely diced about two pounds of bacon and allowed it to simmer in the broth. The broth was strained and thickened to finish the gravy.

But what about the bacon? What we had left was diced, meaty bacon that had been strongly infused with the coffee.  Well, we spread the bacon on a sheet pan and allowed it to dry in the oven for a few hours on a low setting.  We were thrilled with the results and could barely keep from eating all of it right then.  I posted up on Twitter about what to do with the bacon and Mark S (@_Mark_S) of suggestion a riff on XO Sauce. I won’t get into the whole XO Sauce thing.  Check out Mark’s page for his recent adventure with it.

I knew I didn’t have all the ingredients for a proper XO, especially dried shrimp or scallops, but that didn’t stop me.  I knew that I had a few ingredients that would streamline the process, and I made a pretty great sauce in about 10 minutes.  Once again, it is not traditional, but tastes great. I’m sorry that I don’t have measurements because I was winging it, tasting as I went.  I’ll give you my list of ingredients and method of prep.


Dried, Diced Coffee Poached Bacon

Minor’s Shrimp Base

Grapeseed Oil

Shallots, Minced

Fresh Garlic, Minced

Soy Sauce


RC Fine Foods Fresh Minced Ginger

RC Fine Foods Chipotle Powder


Method of Prep

Mince shallots and garlic. Sauté in hot grapeseed oil for 1 minute. Add bacon and ginger and continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 6 minutes.  If using shrimp base, go really easy unless you want a salty funk. Also, the soy and mirin were minor players in this. I wanted a stronger ginger and spice profile.  If I make another batch this week, I might update with measurements.