Thinking outside the pickle jar — preserves star in new recipes
Preserves like tomato jam, served at Vie Restaurant in Western Springs, can be thought of like an ingredient, said Chef de Cuisine Nathan Sears. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
(From Paul Virant)
10 cups of tomatoes, preferably Romas or San Marzanos
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine
Core tomatoes and score ends with an X. In large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch for 1 minute.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a baking sheet. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel away and discard skins and quarter tomatoes. Remove tomato seeds over a bowl fitted with a fine-mesh strainer to reserve as much juice as possible. Discard seeds and dice the tomato flesh into small squares.
In large pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Stir in onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions begin to brown, then stir in sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour in wine and cook over medium heat until pot is nearly dry, about 15 minutes. Pour in tomatoes and reserved juices and simmer until tomatoes have softened and juice reaches about 212 degrees or until jam is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes.
Scald 3-pint jars and 2 half-pint jars in large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack — you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. Meanwhile, soak lids in pan of hot water to soften rubber seal.
Ladle jam into jars, leaving a ½-inch space from rim of jar. Wipe rims with clean towel, seal with lids, then screw on bands until snug but not tight.
Place jars in pot with rack and add enough water to cover jars by about 1 inch. Bring water to boil and process jars for 10 minutes (start timer when water reaches a boil). Turn off heat and leave jars in water for a few minutes. Remove jars from water and let cool completely.
Updated: November 8, 2012 9:16AM
That jar of Grandma’s beloved pickled beets — and many other favorite preserves — will be put to work in some of the season’s trendiest recipes.
More and more chefs will not only preserve summer produce this fall, but they will use the preserved foods to enhance the flavor of some of their latest recipes. From pickling juice in salad dressings to tomato jam in an oat-crusted lipstick pepper tart, preserves are finding a new spot on the dinner table.
“Preserving food has always been a part of my life from my family, as far as I can remember,” said Paul Virant, chef/owner of Vie Restaurant in Western Springs and Perennial Virant in Chicago. “Professionally, it has been taken to another level.”
At Virant’s Michelin-starred Vie, he and Chef de Cuisine Nathan Sears preserve tomatoes by making them into tomato jam. The jam is used in a new oat-crusted tart flowing with lipstick peppers, grilled onions, pecans and Dante sheep’s milk cheese.
Tomato jam is included in Virant’s cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux (Ten Speed Press, 2012). In the cookbook, the jam accents pan-seared chicken with celery sauce and tomato jam-roasted potatoes. The potatoes are seared in a sauté pan with grape seed oil, salt and black pepper. Then they are roasted with a sprig of rosemary for 30-40 minutes. Tomato jam and garlic are stirred into the potatoes for a few minutes at the end.
“There are ways to incorporate preserves into recipes,” Sears said. “Think of them more like an ingredient.”
Rudi Schmidt and Stu Waters, co-founders of Chicago-based pickling company Stu’s Sour, also think outside the pickling jar. The Chicago duo started by making jars of Stu’s “This is Bloody Mary Mix,” followed by “garlicky dill pickles.” Their latest product, pickled beets, inspired a salad dressing recipe using the juice from pickled beets. The colorful dressing is served on a salad alongside a goat burger and, of course, beets.
To make the dressing, mix three parts grape seed oil with one part beet juice, a finely diced shallot and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Then shake the ingredients in a canning jar.
The dressing is as flavorful as it is fun and simple to make. “I liked to add a little vinegar to my beet salad, and then I realized that I had my own much tastier vinegar right in the beet jar,” Waters said.
Schmidt appreciates how all of the elements of the pickled beets are incorporated into the recipe. “It’s letting nothing go to waste,” he said.
Now that’s food preserving.