Jam is for more than simply putting on bread as it can enhance a main course, easily converting your wild game dish into a mouthwatering gourmet experience bursting with unique flavors! You may want to take a look in your cabinets to see if there are currently any jars of jam, possibly homemade or given to you in a gift basket, that just never got used and that you could use with your next meal.
Jams, jellies, preserves, marmalades and conserves are all suitable for livening up a meal; only a very fine line separates each of them. Jellies are cooked twice using the juice only, while jams are purées made with fruit. Preserves, conserves and marmalades are made with bits of fruit cooked until translucent, with preserves typically made from one type of fruit and conserves made with fresh fruits and dried fruit or nuts. Marmalade is made most often from one or many kinds of citrus fruit.
Wild game meats, especially venison and wild boar, pair exceptionally well with apples, cranberries, pears or apricots–fruit that has a lighter sweet and tart enhancement. Pomegranate, grape, plum, or any of the “berry” jams, add rich color and a more robust sweet and tart flavor and are excellent choices for elk or bison.
For game birds, you may want to consider a lighter colored jam choice such as peach, apple, mango, fig, pineapple or orange that will not darken or discolor the meat. Stuffing and dressings with fruit such as prunes, raisins, dates or pomegranates are often prepared with roast turkey, duck or goose. While pineapple and orange serve as a more traditional glaze, mango and fig can be a spectacular contrast flavor to a bird stuffed with cornbread & sausage dressing. Fruit and fruit jam also add moistness and provides an intense fruit flavor to mask a gamey flavor.
A citrus marmalade is a good choice for any seafood dish, typically intense in flavor, but not too sweet and translucent in color. Pork and veal go best with the lighter colored fruit choices, apples, figs, lemon, lime, oranges, mangos, apricots and pears, flavors that will brighten the dish.
If you’re looking to transform a bland dish into a brilliant flavored dish with very little effort, try any of the pepper jams such as jalapeno, habanero or red or green bell pepper. Those jams will add the sweetness of fruit, the tang of vinegar and the heat of the pepper. This provides a perfectly balanced flavor, without the overpowering heat of a straight pepper sauce.
Once you’ve decided on a flavor pairing, fruit jams make fabulous bases for marinades or glazes. Marinade needs to be liquid enough to be “saturated,” so add balsamic or wine vinegar or even lemon juice to your choice of jam to create a marinade. In addition to making a jam more liquid, vinegar or lemon juice have the added benefit of helping tenderize your choice of meat. In general, prior to cooking, seafood and chicken can be marinated up to two hours, pork or lamb four to eight hours, and beef or wild game up to 24 hours, refrigerated.
Glazes add flavor, color and texture and are typically drizzled or brushed on toward the end of a cooking cycle. To make a glaze, simply add a little balsamic or wine vinegar or lemon juice to your choice of jam and stir until smooth. If you have any trouble getting the jam and vinegar to blend, heat it gently on your stovetop over medium low temperature, and add any other seasonings during the heating. For oven roasting you typically apply the glaze during the last 10 to 15 minutes bake time after increasing your oven temperature to 400 to 450° F. When grilling, brush the glaze on throughout the entire cook time–it will also help maintain moistness.—Debbie McKeown