Pepper Jelly Madness continues with an experiment that worked out very well, in my
not so humble opinion…
A flavor combination that works at many levels involves pineapple that’s been grilled, paired with chile heat. When you add the smoky, vanilla-and-oak essence of a good bourbon whiskey you’ve got a major winner. Chefs like Bobby Flay know this “secret,” and they’re not afraid to use it.
Well, it’s my turn.
I got a couple of pineapples that were already “skinned” and cored. The first was in long spears or logs; the other was a center cut, like you see in specialty groceries where they have that way-cool machine that takes off the outside and cuts the core loose all in one big stroke. (Man, I have GOT to get me one of those.) I cut the latter into half-inch-thick slices, then I grilled both pineapples on my trusty outdoor grill. I made sure I got some really nice char on a bunch of it too; I wanted that caramel goodness to come through. When the pineapple was done I let them marinate in the juices I’d saved from their packages.
I had a half-dozen fresh, orange habañero chiles in the chillbox. I got those out and fileted off the flesh, leaving the seeds and stems for the food disposal to chew on. (Yes, I used gloves. I’ve learned my lesson.) I put the chile pieces in my small food processor with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and one good-sized hunk of pineapple that I loosely chopped first. I processed that mix down to smoothness and put it into my jelly cookpot.
Next I processed the pineapple in batches. First I cut the big pieces into chunks about ½-¾ inch in size. Then I pulsed the fruit until it was in small pieces but not puréed. All of the pineapple mince went into the pot as well. The juice from the packages went into the pot. I added about ¾ cup lemon juice for tartness and for the acidity; jams and jellies don’t work too well if there’s no acid, and pineapple doesn’t have a lot of that.
Because pineapple has plenty of sweetness, I settled for 2 cups of sugar and 1½ cups sucralose for added sweet. I also added about ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, to bring the total volume up a bit. (Turns out I could have skipped that, probably.) Then I added in about a quarter cup Maker’s Mark bourbon. I thought about using the Elijah Craig, but the Maker’s was closer to hand.
I used three tablespoons or so of no-sugar pectin, mixed int0 some of the sugar I’d already measured out. Once the whole mix was boiling merrily away on the stove I skimmed off the foam (there wasn’t a lot), and I made darn good and sure that the pectin had plenty of time to activate; six or seven minutes of rolling boil, always stirring to prevent any scorching on the bottom of the pot.
After that it was the usual process of canning into half-pint jars. I got eight full jars, actually. The jell test was good, and the mix had a really nice flavor. Next time, though, I’m using more bourbon and skipping the cider vinegar…
Enjoy the (Sweet Hot Smoky) Heat!
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