sauces + dressings

tomato + ancho chili jam

tomato and ancho chili jam

tomato and ancho chili jam

If you have never tried tomato jam, please let me be the first to introduce you to it's powers.  Unlike the usual suspects, this one works in almost all jam scenarios.  And then some.  Most obvious: crusty bread and tangy, oozy cheese.  Not so: along side kale and feta omelets, roasted chicken, grilled cheese or with vanilla ice cream and drizzle of olive oil.  Layer it on a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon or use it as a glaze on grilled chicken or shrimp.

It's a great way to use up a ton of tomatoes and really not much work at all.  You can certainly go for the whole canning process or simply divide it into cute jars and advise your friends to keep it in the fridge.  I used a combination of mostly early girls with a few others tossed in.

So the recipe does call for a special ingredient which is kind of optional.  I'm obsessed but certainly doesn't mean you will be. Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur is a really interesting addition to your bar (trust me) and brings a seductive layer of flavor and (think cinnamon, cacao, dried chili) and slight heat to the jam.  You want this.

tomato and ancho chili jam

tomato and ancho chili jam

tomato + ancho chili jam

makes about 3-4 8 oz jars

3 pounds of sweet tomatoes (early girls, heirlooms)

3/4 lb sugar

4 T meyer lemon juice

1/4 c Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur (this is option but highly recommended)

1 T (or more or less) ancho chili powder

1 t kosher salt (or more to taste)

1 t nutmeg

tomato and ancho chili jam

tomato and ancho chili jam

Freeze a couple of teaspoons for testing the jam later.

Drop the tomatoes into a large pot of boiling water until their skins have loosened. In most cases, about a minute, but sometimes these things take time.  Place the tomatoes on a large rimmed sheet pan and let cool. When you can handle them, remove the skins and toss. Chop the tomatoes (or use kitchen sheers) and transfer them and all of their juices into a large nonreactive pot along with the remaining ingredients (start with less of the ancho powder and salt).  Stir everything together and bring to a slow boil.  Start to skim off any foam and turn the heat down to about low-medium.  The trick is NOT to cook it too fast and burn off all of the liquid 'cause then there would be no jam. This is a process and takes a bit of fussing with the heat to get it right.  As it starts to thicken, carefully taste, and adjust the seasonings. You should be stirring often, paying attention to the bottom of the pan, not letting things stick or burn.

It could take a couple of hours or one depending on your tomatoes, level of heat, and your kitchen environment.  When it starts to look "jammy", test it on the back of one of your frozen spoons. Smear some on the spoon and return it to the freezer for a couple of minutes. Take it out and tilt the spoon to see how it runs.  If it runs very slowly, you are done.  If not, keep on cooking and stirring and repeat the process. When your tomatoes have magically turned to jam, pour it into sterilized jars and process accordingly.