Q: Hi Chef. We travel to the mountains every year in the fall, and on our last trip, we found ourselves in Kentucky where we stopped to get something to eat a small diner just outside Louisville. They had the most amazing pepper jelly I have ever had—I just couldn’t stop eating it! I was wondering if you have a good recipe that I could use for our upcoming holiday party.
A: Are you ready for a hot and sweet December? Pepper jelly is said to have originated in Texas during the late ’70s. I am not too sure about this, because I can remember eating Green Tabasco Pepper Jelly as a kid growing up in North Carolina. I loved it with fresh biscuits! I have two recipes from local chef Scott Yancey. They are simple to make, just make sure you wear plastic gloves when handling the chilies.
CAYENNE PEPPER JELLY
12 oz fresh red cayenne peppers
2 c apple cider vinegar
6 c sugar
2 pkgs. pectin (pectin comes in preportioned packages)
DIRECTIONS: Wash peppers and remove stems. Cut each in half and remove the seeds and pith. Reserve the seeds. In blender, puree peppers with 1 cup of vinegar. Combine puree and half the seeds with remaining of vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pectin. Return to heat and boil for another minute. Remove from heat. Use a spoon to skim the foam off.
RASPBERRY JALAPEÑO JELLY
1 c fresh raspberries
12 fresh jalapeños
1 c apple cider
3 c sugar
1 pkg. pectin
DIRECTIONS: Wash peppers and remove stems. Cut each in half and remove the seeds and pith. Reserve the seeds. In blender, puree peppers with 1 cup of vinegar. Combine puree and half the seeds with remaining vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil for one minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and add raspberries. Stir constantly until raspberries are blended in. Remove from heat and stir in pectin. Return to heat and boil for another minute. Remove from heat. Use a spoon to skim the foam off. Strain through fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
I serve these jellies with Prosciutto Lavender Parmesan Cigars.
Prosciutto Lavender Parmesan Cigars
8 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
3 oz prosciutto ham
2 T dried ground lavender
Directions: This should be enough to make about 12 mini cigars. Slice ham into very thin 3” x 1 ½” pieces and place on cutting board. Heat a Teflon coated sauté pan on med high heat. Slowly sprinkle cheese in a circle into the pan forming a 4 to 5” circle. Fill in the circle with cheese so it looks like lace. Sprinkle lavender onto melting cheese. Allow cheese to melt and start to brown. Using a rubber spatula go around the edge of the circle to form a completed circle. When cheese starts to brown remove from heat and allow cooling for a few seconds. While cheese is hot Use your fingers pull the cheese off the pan and place quickly on a cutting board. Quickly while cheese is still hot and soft place a slice of the prosciutto on the cheese and roll into a cigar. Cheese will set within a few seconds so work fast. Be careful not to break them they can be fragile.
Anyone having trouble with these, email me and who knows we’ll make a few together.
I hope all of you have a warm and fun filled holiday.
Chef John Johnson is River City Casino executive chef. Do you have a recipe request for Chef John? Email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com