In July of this year, my husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing a bit of Montana. It’s been on our travel bucket list for years, specifically Glacier National Park, which did not disappoint.
Our home base was the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, and we had a few outstanding meals at their restaurant. To start off our last meal before flying home, we ordered a charcuterie and cheese platter. There was elk sausage, prosciutto, artisan cheeses, pickled vegetables, pears and more, but what really got my attention was a cherry jam of sorts, pictured here on the Montana-shaped board. It looked like perhaps it was made with dried cherries.
On the menu it was referred to as a chutney, made with Montana’s famous Flathead cherries. But it was not savory enough to be a chutney in my book. The cherries were soft, in a not-very-sweet syrup, and had a smoky punch that really took me by surprise.
I knew when I got home I’d try to replicate this condiment. I decided to use my stove-top smoker and seriously smoke fresh cherries.
It worked really well. Here is the jam paired with goat cheese on a cracker.
Smoked Cherry Jam
1 pound cherries, firm and unblemished
2 tablespoons cherry wood, pulverized
16 ounces cherry or pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Pinch of salt
Rinse the cherries, and dry them. De-stem and pit the cherries.
Prepare a stove-top grill and use cherry wood.
Place the pitted cherries in the grill, start up the heat, and when you see smoke, cover the grill and lower the heat. You’re not trying to cook the cherries, just add smoke flavor to them.
The cherries smoked for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees; I used a convection setting. I just wanted to dehydrate the cherries a bit. It took 2 hours.
Meanwhile, add the juice and sugar to a pot large enough to hold the cherries. Stir till the sugar is dissolved and reduce the mixture until syrupy. Depending on the juice, you might have to adjust the amount of sugar. I wanted a syrup consistency, but not a super-sweet syrup.
Let the syrup cool slightly, then add the lemon juice, chipotle powder, and salt. Stir well, then stir in the smoked and somewhat dehydrated cherries.
I paired the condiment with goat cheese, brie, apples, fresh cherries, and rosemary crackers.
The jam was delicious with brie.
The smokiness was spot on. I just love this jam!
I can really see the jam being paired with roast pork or turkey. It would be fabulous with duck or brisket.
The pairing possibilities are endless, really. It takes a little work to make this jam, but so worth it!