Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fennel, Red Onion and Roasted Red Pepper Jam

There were two red peppers in the fridge, so I roasted one, with no clear intentions of what it would be used for. As I was putting it into the fridge I saw the fennel bulb that was in there, and that is how this jam came about.

I wanted to do something different with the fennel; I usually use it in salads, or with fish or pork, but the idea of making a jam with it intrigued me. The anise flavour would pair well with sweetness, but I wanted a bit of a kick as well, so I added some chili flakes and apple cider vinegar. 

I was still looking for something to serve it with, when the idea of turkey burgers came up...perfect!

First, roast the red pepper by placing it directly onto the flame on a gas stove, turning as each side blackens.

You can also roast the peppers on the barbecue or in a 400F oven, on a baking sheet.

When the whole pepper has blackened, remove it from the flame and place it into a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap.

This steams the pepper, using the heat from charring it, and separates the skin from the pepper.

To peel, rub the charred skin off, and rinse the pepper under cold water to remove any residual skin. Cut the pepper open and remove the seeds and white veins. Refrigerate until needed.

Thinly slice:

1 large fennel bulb
1/2 large red onion

Using olive oil, cook on a medium low heat, stirring often, until the onion and fennel start to colour.

Turn the heat to low, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion and fennel are a deep golden colour, and are starting to soften. This takes about 45 - 60 minutes. Transfer to a small deep pot.

Add, 1/4 cup at a time:

1 cup apple juice

Allow the juice to reduce to almost nothing before adding the next 1/4 cup. Keep the heat low, stir often, and allow the fennel and onions to deepen in colour and soften even more.

Stir in:

1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
pinch of chili flakes
pinch of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. I served the relish on a turkey burger, along with goat cheese, tomato, bacon and baby greens. The creamy, tart goat cheese was a great contrast to the sweet, tangy relish.

  • Roasting peppers is a great way to transform both the taste and texture. The sweetness is enhanced, while a smokiness is added, and the crunch is replaced with a softer pepper.
  • Roasted peppers can be stored in the fridge, well covered, for 3 - 5 days. You can also use purchased roasted peppers; they can be found both in cans and jars.
  • This is a great way to use softer peppers, that are starting to wrinkle a bit...these are still good to eat, but have lost the crunch that is so nice in things like salads. Hot peppers such as jalapenos can be roasted the same way.
  • Add the peppers to pasta sauces; puree and stir into mayonnaise; make soup using them along with vegetables such as fennel, leeks or potato; use them for pizza, wraps or sandwhiches.
  • Fennel and onion both contain natural sugars, and cooking them slowly by themselves allow the sugars to start to caramelize. Adding the apple juice enhances the sweetness, and the added liquid increases the jammy effect.
  • Orange or lemon zest can be added; grated fresh ginger will add some heat; chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or chives; orange juice instead of apple; white onion instead of red.
  • The relish made enough for four burgers; it can also be used on sandwhiches with chicken, turkey or ham. Try it with roast chicken, turkey or pork or on grilled fish.
  • Another quick sauce that can be used for burgers and grilled chicken or pork is this one. I made it when I discovered a beer that had been put in the freezer to chill and was forgotten...

Simmer until thickened:

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup beer
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground aniseeds
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chili

I served the sauce with grilled pork tenderloin, cornbread and an arugula, grape tomato and corn salad. Leftover sauce can be frozen.

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