Although some people who know me (Hello Petey and The Kid) may call it an affliction, I just happen to appreciate jam and jelly.
Right now in my fridge there are 13 jars of various fruit preserves, including the Stonewall Kitchen caramel apple butter I picked up yesterday.
That’s not counting Goober Grape and the many, many bottles in the honey/syrup subsection. Give me some toast, a biscuit, or waffle, tell me your mood, and I’ve got a topping for ya.
Even though I pick up new sugary, jewel-colored jars wherever I go, there are a couple of types that I would never consider buying because I always make them from scratch: onion marmalade and garlic jam.
The onion marmalade derived from a newspaper article I read many years ago. And the garlic goop is the byproduct of making garlic oil, which I always try to have on hand.
Either can be used by themselves, like a schmear under some melted cheese on a sandwich or a burger or to dress up some crostini. You can also use it as an ingredient; I stir a heaping tablespoon of onions into the sauce for my smothered pork chops, and the best red salsa I’ve ever had includes garlic jam.
Neither is hard or expensive to create. They only cost time and the willingness for you and your home to be heavily allium-scented for a day or so.
5 pound yellow onions
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Peel onions and cut in half. Slice into ¼ inch thick half-moons.
Place largest, heaviest pot you own on a burner and turn to medium-low. Put in all ingredients, and toss to coat. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been released from onions.
Uncover and cook on low, stirring frequently until the onions have cooked down and are deeply amber, about 3-4 hours. Don’t rush or they will burn and stick. Taste for seasoning. Makes 2-3 cups.
This’ll last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I usually keep about a third in the fridge to use right away and label and freeze the rest. It will give anything you use it in a serious depth of flavor—but be careful, the taste is intense; it’s easy to overdo.
The garlic is even easier.
Garlic Oil and Jam
4 heads garlic, separated and peeled, with tough, dry ends cut off
2 cups olive oil
3 cups vegetable oil—I use grapeseed
Salt & pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Juice of 1 lemon
Place garlic in heavy saucepan and pour in oils. Turn to medium-low and cook slowly until garlic is light golden-brown, about 45-60 minutes. Turn off burner and let oil and garlic cool.
Remove cloves to bowl of food processor and pour oil into clean receptacle and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Process cloves with salt, pepper, and thyme until mostly smooth. Pour in lemon juice and process until it is very smooth and looks like humus. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate for 2-3 weeks in airtight container. Makes about 1 cup.
With these in your fridge, you can spike a quick weeknight meal, and that dinner will take on a slow-cooked, fussed-over taste.
Or, like The Kid, you can eat the garlic jam from a spoon when you think nobody’s looking.
Thanks for your time.