Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Jam often evokes the image of moo-mooed grandmas in hot kitchens, elbow deep in pulp. I, on the other hand, have been on a recent mission to upscale jam. I'm convinced jam deserves a place in gourmet kitchens next to smoked paprika and pink salt. But it retains a timeless quality that corn foam lacks.
I tried a few experiments. I put salt in blueberry jam. The first batch was like what you might imagine a blueberry would taste like if it washed up on the shores of New Jersey. The next batch was fantastic and I served it with roasted marshmallows and Graham crackers. I made jam from Shallots and port and served it with goat cheese. I considered these successes. Then I was seduced by the Top Chef bandwagon and tried to create a bacon jam. I put it in a BLT. It was a weird pap of a surrogate. It was less jam and more fat spread. I should have just used bacon.
I tried not to be discouraged. I kept trying to add a little this or that to a classic jam recipe until I found what I wanted. Then I found some windfall pears at the farmer's market. I made Chocolate- Pear Jam.
Chocolate pear Jam:
5-7 very ripe pears
3 cups sugar
Half a vanilla bean
4 oz good quality chocolate, like Valhrona, chopped into small pieces
4 sterilized pt jars or a container for storing
Peel and chop the pears into small pieces. Depending on the variety of pear you use, the pieces may not cook down completely, so you will have small chunks in your jam. Chop the pears so that you will still be able to spread the jam. Put the pears into a heavy bottomed pot.
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and pod to the pot. How to split a vanilla bean
Add the sugar. Boil until the mixture gels. There are tons of techniques for telling if a jam is ready. Dripping it off a spoon, dropping it on a cold plate, bringing it a Voodoo priestess, use what ever technique you prefer. If you don't have a preferred method, use a thermometer. Jams should start to gel at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. When the chocolate melts, remove the vanilla bean and poor into jars. Continue with the canning process or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Anyone had an amazing jam?