I have always loved the taste of jams and preserves. What can be better than fruit cooked with a healthy dose of sugar? A picky eater as a youngster -- oh, how things have changed -- bread, butter and jam kept this overactive, skinny little girl happy. Peanut butter and jelly was an unheard-of combination in South Africa so my sandwiches were filled with salted butter and exotic berry jams, apricot, plum or my all-time favorite fig.
I still enjoy my jam and butter but it’s more likely to be on a single piece of toast since the calories add up a lot quicker now :( With the increase in availability of a wide variety of cheeses from all over the world and locally by our very own artisans (try Blue Heron Farm), a new way of enjoying preserves has emerged. Chunky preserves can complement a pungent, rich cheese with its texture and sweetness; fig jam is a perfect partner to tangy goat cheese.
A mind-boggling array of delicious savory jams has emerged in recent years. Chipotle peppers cannned with peaches or raspberries, ginger with figs, and blueberries with garlic are just a few that come to mind. Here’s the simple recipe for Onion jam that I served with Walnut bread and Humboldt Fog chèvre (goat cheese) as seen in my previous post. When cooked slowly, the onions are allowed to absorb the sugar, soy sauce, wine and vinegar. Once the water in the liquids has evaporated the mixture becomes thick, jammy and complex in flavor…sweet, salty, a tad sour…umami... and perfect with chèvre.
This savory jam would also be an outstanding accompaniment to a roast beef or turkey sandwich. It would be delicious with a freshly grilled steak or on a vegetable pizza. The thought of it mingling with melting queso in a quesadilla makes my mouth water!. Get creative with it…it’s worth the 45 minutes or so of stirring!
Onion Jam from the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook
Makes about 1 cup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced onions; I have used both yellow and red
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons water
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 - 8 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 - 20 minutes, until onions are golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring often to avoid scorching, for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is thick and jam like. Taste and adjust for salt, if necessary. The slower you cook it, the richer the jam will become. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.