Walking around in this cold weather makes me want to bite into something warm and gooey. One of my spots to fulfill this urge is a great place called Empire Biscuit. They are open 24/7 and are always making piping hot buttermilk biscuits, which are divine… It’s not just the biscuits that will make you swoon, its Empire’s ultimate jam sandwiches that will steal your heart. My first encounter with them I had The Savory Character sandwich, filled with goat cheese butter and topped with onion jam. That combo on a warm biscuit? It was love at first bite. (And that’s one of the more tame combos.)
For the past few weeks I’ve been going leek crazy, carry bunches and bunches home from the market. What do I usually do when I have too much of an ingredient? Jam it! So this week I’ve made a leek and roasted garlic jam–I could just eat it straight out of the jar. Because it’s made with leeks instead of all onions, the flavor is a bit more mellow but still gets a punch from the garlic. A warm biscuit is just the beginning for the Leek Jam, really where can’t you use a condiment like that?
Let get jamming!
Leek Jam with Roasted Garlic
This recipe yields three half-pint jars.
First, roast three garlic heads in the oven. Get the full Roasted Garlic recipe here. This can be done the day before, just store in the fridge till ready to use.
What you’ll need: 2 bunches of leeks about 6 cups, 1 sweet onion, 3 roasted garlic heads, 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 lemon juice, 2 Tb balsamic vinegar, 2-3 tsp ground pepper, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, and salt to taste. Plus, three half-pint jars and canning equipment.
Clean the leeks by trimming off the bottom and top dark greens, then slice in half lengthwise. Run under cool water and let the water rush between the different layers removing all dirt. Chop thinly and dice the onion. In a large pot over medium heat add some olive oil along with the leeks and onion. Let sweat and add a dash of salt. Once the onions are soft let caramelize until reduced in volume and darker in color. This should take about 45 minutes. Every few minutes stir and add a bit of salt to the pan, scraping any burnt bits from the bottom. It’s shocking how 6 cups of leeks cooks down to half as many cups!
Once the mixture is caramelized, squeeze out the roasted garlic and incorporate. Then deglaze the pot with the vinegars and lemon juice. Add the ginger and pepper. I prefer my jam more peppery, so I added 3 tsp–do what tastes right to you. Salt to taste as well. Bring the jam to a boil, then add the sugar. Start with 1 1/2 cups, and add more as you want. This jam is a savory, vinegary concoction and gets most of the sweetness from the leeks and garlic. Add more sugar if you prefer.
Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes until you get a nice coating on your spoon. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar one last time to taste. Stand in awe of the amazing jam you just made. Spoon into prepared jars and process for 15 minutes in a water bath. If you don’t want to can, store in the fridge for up to two weeks or freeze portions.
The Leek and Roasted Garlic Jam is very versatile. Spread it on toast, serve it on roasted chicken, toss a bit in a vinaigrette, or my other favorite besides biscuits–spoon some over a wheel of brie before baking. Oh, it’s to die for! But let’s make some biscuit sandwiches.
Simple Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes one dozen 2-inch biscuits.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl combine 2 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cut 4 Tablespoons very cold butter into small piece. Working quickly, rub the butter into dry ingredients until little peas form (like you would for a pie crust). Make a well in the center and pour in 1 cup chilled buttermilk. With one hand use a clawing motion to stir in the buttermilk. It will be very sticky.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and lightly kneed for 30 seconds, helping to distribute the butter throughout the dough. Delicately roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use a round cutter to stamp out the biscuits (I’ve used a 2 1/4-inch cutter). Push straight down through the dough and rotate the cutter until you feel the biscuit is lose. Place the biscuits on a lined baking sheet so they just barely touch. This helps them puff up but stay pale around the edges. Collect the scrap dough and form into a ball, repeat the rolling and cutting step. (The second pass of dough will be slightly less light as the first, but just as tasty.)
Bake until the tops are golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before handling.
Assembling the Jam Sandwiches:
Have your goat cheese sit out at room temperature while baking the biscuits. Take a warm biscuit and pull apart. Spread a generous smear of goat cheese on the bottom half. Then spoon some leek jam on top of the cheese. Put the top half back on, and take a bite! Pause while your mind is blow. Repeat until you can’t handle any more biscuits.
When I was photographing for this post, I ate more of these little sammies than I’d like to admit. They are darn tasty! I’d serve them warm instead of boring dinner rolls or add them to a brunch buffet. (Or keep them all to myself and die happy of a biscuit overdose.)
I found that people look at me like I’m from another planet when I casually say, “I made these terrific biscuits with homemade jam this morning.” However, these sandwiches are so easy to make I think anyone could do it. There is really no need to grab some pop-biscuits from the fridge, but I wouldn’t judge you if you did. After making them a few times, it becomes as fluid as brushing your teeth.
Anyway, I hope you try to make these little sammies, or at least drool over their photos!