File this under fashionably late.
A few weeks ago, when Peach season was in its final throes, Alex’s habañero plant was blossoming out of control. This left us, and those we love and live with, in a state of simultaneous joy and fear. How would all those orange monsters find their way into daily dishes? Would everything we make be punishingly hot for months?
While we both have a penchant for all things brutally spicy, we decided to give our ladies (and our digestive tracts) a ‘get out of jail free’ card. We decided to tame the little orange baddies into something even the most ardent capsaicin-phobe can handle.
The thing about all hot chilies, especially brutes like Habañero and Bhut Jolokia, is that beyond their ability to cause mind numbing pain, they have strong and sweet smelling perfumes that carry into their flavor.
What are the two fool-proof ways to counteract the sweat-inducing, tongue burning poison? Lipids and sugars, dudes. If you’ve got steady hands and sharp knives, this recipe will produce a swell jam that has all the flavor of the habañero, and just enough of the bite to let you know that the peppers could, like if they wanted to, kick your ass. The flavor gets dangerous; then it goes away.
Slather this jam on anything and everything; it’s great as a cheese accompaniment, with bagels and cream cheese, on toast, mixed into cocktails or vinaigrettes, or as a topping for ice cream or any other desserts.
Makes 1 quart
4 lbs. fresh peaches
8 each fresh habañero peppers
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup honey
1. Heat a large pot of water to boil, and set up a sizable ice bath (big bowl, ice water) next to the pot.
2. Cut an “X “in the bottom of each peach; don’t go too deep.
3. In batches of three, blanch the peaches for about 2-3 minutes. Let the water lose its boil (we hope T. Keller isn’t reading) and when it returns to a bubble remove the fruit. Ice them fools down!
4. Repeat step 3 until all the peaches are in the ice bath.
5. Steel your sharpest knife.
6. Unless you are confident that you will not stop slicing chilies to a) rub your eyes, b) piss, c) get intimate with yourself or another person, you might want to wear some latex gloves for this step. Gently wash the habañeros, and then slice off each section of the chilies trying to avoid the central nervous system, and the seeds. If you do this successfully, the jam will not be too hot. Remove all seeds.
7. Finely julienne and dice the chilies.
8. Gently peel away the skin from each peach, then pit and chop them. The peaches will hold a little of their shape; if you want a chunky jam chop roughly. We like a finer dice.
9. Juice the lemons and strain out the seeds.
10. Add all ingredients to a large pot and then turn up the heat to medium/high flame. Stir frequently and mind yer jam, you do not want it burned. Bring to a burbling simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Process however you want. If you don’t feel like canning, just seal whatever you don’t think you’ll use in a week in a container and pop it in the freezer.
Beverage: Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche
Soundtrack: Beck, “Peaches and Cream”