Jammin’ With A Meatball Recipe You’ll RAVE About!Main Course / February 16, 2021
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.