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One of the (many) drawbacks of being a gluten-free and nut-free household is that PB&J sandwiches are few and far between. This is hard for me because not only do I love that lunchbox staple, particularly when accompanied by a tall glass of milk (another no-no in our house), but I also really love making jams and jellies. Unfortunately these goodies just don’t get used up as quickly in our home as they used to so I have had to make a decision- stop making them OR get creative with them. I have learned that one of the (many) advantages to being a gluten-free, nut-free household is that I have the opportunity to get creative with the products I have on hand so that is the choice I have made. Recently, I have taken my love of jam making to new levels. I have been trying to find unusual ingredients and flavor combinations and then use them in ways that I have not tried before. Pineapple-Lime Jam is now one of my favorite cake filling flavors. (and thanks to BB I have a frequent supply of pineapple). Apricot-Rosemary Jam has become a go-to for an elegant Sunday meal of glazed Roast Chicken. One of my most requested flavors is Strawberry-Chipotle. As strawberries pop up in the basket and the offerings page I try to keep some out of the view of the kiddos in order to make a batch of this delectable delicacy.
The fresh, sweet strawberries pair beautifully with the spicy smokiness of chipotle peppers. The result of this pairing is a rich, red-hued jam that is versatile and delicious. The deep red of this jam and the resulting sexiness (yes, I’m weird and totally think food can be sexy) of the dishes it creates make this a perfect part of a Romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. I’m giving you here the basic jam recipe and three of my favorite ways to use it up. I will warn you that these are not all the healthiest of recipes. (I’m a sucker for cream cheese) But for a special occasion they are fabulous!
6 cups of sugar (told you it wasn't the healthiest)
4-6 chipotle peppers minced plus a few drops of the adobo sauce to taste (watch out if you are Gluten-Free many brands have gluten. The one GF brand I have found is La Costena)
1/4 tsp salt
Chop half of the berries into small pieces, smash the rest, and mix together. You should end up with a total of 6 cups- a little extra is OK.
In a saucepan combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. This is a thick, heavy mixture- be sure that you stir everything up from the bottom so you do not burn your sugar (This is the voice of experience speaking)
Add all the berries, peppers, and adobo sauce to the pan (be careful as you add sauce- the flavor will intensify as it cooks.)
Bring to a good boil and simmer. And simmer. And simmer. Seriously it could take up to 40 mins so just keep stirring and be patient.
Check the gel consistency by placing a small amount on a very cold spoon, If it is the desired consistency take it off the heat. If it is still too runny…keep simmering!
Place the hot jam in prepared jars. You can seal in a hot water bath according to the guidelines for your area (Vegas is 15 mins). Or you can refrigerate immediately and use up within a week or two. This recipe usually gets me 5-6 jars.
Grilled Steak- Thinly sliced (this is even better if you have used some of the jam to glaze the steak as it grills)
Make a quick vinaigrette by whisking some of the jam into the oil (about two parts oil to one part jam) I like giving this a couple of zaps through the blender so that it is less likely to separate and has a creamier texture.
Arrange the spinach and strawberries on the salad plate.
Top with the sliced steak, drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle with feta cheese
Thin some of the jam with a little water (or if your jam turns out a little runny just go with that)
Dry the chicken well. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.
Bake or grill as desired using the thin jam as a glaze. If you are roasting a whole chicken don't start the glaze right away as it will over cook- start glazing about half way through your cooking time.
The jam gives the chicken a beautiful color and flavor. This dish is delicious paired with potatoes or rice, a nice salad, and hot green beans.