Smokey-Sweet Bacon and Shallot Jam

4 strips good quality bacon, cut in small pieces
1 lb shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle with butcher’s twine
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat, render the bacon slowly until crisp and golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon fat in the pan. Add the chopped shallots to the bacon fat and gently soften them, minding the heat and making sure they don’t brown. As they are softening add the thyme bundle. When the shallots are translucent and very fragrant add the sugar and vinegar. Gently simmer the mixture until the shallots are shiny and translucent and the mixture is very thick and dark, about 30 minutes. Add bacon back to the jam if you desire – you can also leave it out if you prefer the texture without the crunchy bits. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or pack in sterile jars for processing.