You grew up with jam, I grew up with jam. You slathered it on your buttered toast for breakfast then replaced the lid, put it back in the door of the refrigerator, and that was the last you touched it for the day.
I have a vastly different relationship with jam. It is a magic ingredient and I use it everywhere.
So, what do I mean by everywhere? Here are some examples of all the times you are in a relationship with jam: Enjoy that raspberry vinaigrette on your spinach salad? Jam. Love the sweet crust on the outside of an Easter spiral ham? Jam. Can’t get enough of a good fruit glaze on the top of cheesecake? Jam. And finally, how about that yummy orange coating we often slather atop roasted carrots? Yes, Jam.
Any time you have a fruit that has been sweetened, jelled slightly, and simmered into a cup of delicious sticky-ness, that is jam. (Yes, peppers are often considered a fruit!) And you don’t have to limit it to fruit. There’s bacon jam, jalapeño jam. And one my favorites is red pepper jelly. And if you don’t believe I’m a food geek after reading my blog, you will when I tell you I’m keen to create a kalamata olive jam. Yes. Stay tuned!
Fruits lend a unique element to food. They can act as a bit of sweetness to offset an acidic note. They can thicken sauces. Create depth of flavor. Offer refreshing flavors against the savory. And they’re soooo beautiful! They are fantastic over meats, especially when combined with a bit of vinegar, onion, and pepper and cooked into a chutney. Try simmering with a bit of white wine and Dijon mustard and you will understand heaven. And in this gem of a meal, the humble jam helps create the most beautiful and perfectly flavored glaze for a humble Chinese meatball.
I intentionally blend flavors to their highest and best expression. Or at least that is my goal. And when tasked by Raven’s Original Foods to create a recipe using their gorgeous Peach Habanero jam, I couldn’t get my apron on fast enough.
First, I opened the jar and took a couple of bites. Pressing it around in my mouth and inhaling slightly so I could get all the top notes as well as the subtle flavors at the finish. I wanted to understand the jam's consistency and find out if it was more sweet than hot or the other way around. Licking the spoon until it was clean was how this saga ended. And now I knew what I would do. Magic is about to be made.
When blending the meatballs I knew I must include the key Asian flavors of ginger and garlic, punctuated with herbs, aromatics, and the right amount of salt and pepper. This would help the heat of the jam sing! (I find that using a zester to grate the fresh ginger and the fresh garlic creates a more refined flavor experience.) After mixing everything together and then forming them into the small meatballs, I set them aside to work on the rest of the prep. Seriously, aren’t they the prettiest little bites?
On this night I wanted to skip the carbs (although serving these meatballs and slaw over steaming jasmine rice would be rather dreamy). Turns out I was just as happy without the rice, simply laying it all over a good, crunchy slaw. By sautéing the pepper, jalapeno, and onion in a hot pan with a little oil and salt and pepper, I created an automatic dressing for the slaw. Combining the cooked peppers and cold cabbage helps dial down any bitterness. As a ‘fleurissent finale’ I added torn basic to the warm mixture to gently perfume the slaw. Absolutely the perfect decision.
When it comes to the size and style of your chopped ingredients, there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes you want everything diced small. Other times you want large chunks. In this case I wanted long, elegant strips that would be beautiful but ensure you could detect each flavor individually. I wanted a solid identity preserved in my peppers.
Another trick was to slightly warm the jam and the sweet vinegar in a small pan before pouring it over the meatballs. Otherwise the cold sauce cools everything down. Maintaining the temperature of the beef while sautéing is important for consistency.
When everything came together it was a true jam-fest of flavor and texture. Hot, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and amazing. Another super-win using an ingredient that frankly, I can’t “RAVE” enough about. Check out the full recipe below, go to www.ravensoriginals.com to buy the jam, and get cooking!
RECIPE: Ginger & Mint Asian Meatballs with Peach Habanero Sauce Over Sautéed Pepper and Jalapeño Slaw
Serves 4 | Click here to download PDF of recipe
1 1/4 lb ground sirloin
1 ½ t grated ginger root
1 T grated garlic, about 2 large cloves
2 T fresh grated flat leaf parsley (plus more for garnish)
2 T chopped scallions
2 T chopped cilantro
1 ½ t fresh chopped mint
¼ C white onion, chopped
1 t kosher salt, ¼ t black pepper
1 C orange pepper, sliced into long strips
1 C yellow pepper, sliced into long strips
¼ red onion, cut into thin slices
1 heaping T chopped jalapeño
2 cups regular green cabbage thinly sliced (keep in separate bowl)
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, gently torn
½ t kosher salt, 1/8 t black pepper
2 T light oil such as vegetable, sunflower, or avocado oil
4 small wedges of fresh lime
¾ C Raven’s Original™ Peach Habanero Jam
3 t rice wine vinegar
Blend ground sirloin with ginger, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, mint, scallions, salt, and pepper. Form into small 1” meatballs and set aside. It makes about 15 - 20. Combine the slaw ingredients from peppers down to jalapeño. Slice the cabbage and set aside. Put the mango jam and vinegar in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Bring a sauté pan to high heat, add the 2 T vegetable oil, and add the pepper, onion, and jalapeño mixture. Let cook for about a minute to soften and add the salt and pepper. Toss and let sear until there’s a bit of charring on some of the peppers. Then turn the cooked pepper mixture into the bowl with the cabbage and toss. While still hot add the torn basil pieces and fold them in to gently flavor the slaw, then set aside.
In the same sauté pan, on medium high heat, add the meatballs and brown on one side. Jostle pan a little to keep meatballs turning over and cook until they are brown, and feel firm but not overcooked, which takes about 2 – minutes per side.
Combine the Peach Jam and the vinegar in a small pan and heat slightly before you pour the jam mixture over the top. Then lower heat, and let it bubble for about 3-4 minutes on medium low to finish cooking the meatballs.
To serve, arrange a bit of the wilted slaw mixture on the plate. Top with 4 – 5 meatballs, and drizzle with the mango habanero sauce. Garnish with a fresh lime, and a basil leaf, and a sprinkling of parsley.
NOTE: Can serve with white rice if desired.
Recipe and Photo ©Camine Pappas, 2021. All rights reserved
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.