A good friend and neighbor was having people over for dinner the other night, and even though I was told there would be plenty of food and that I needn't worry about cooking, I wanted to bring something anyway, so I swung by Curtis Park Delicatessen for some expert advice.
The fellas behind the counter immediately suggested dried sausages for people to snack on and proceeded to slice up some samples. I couldn't help but oblige them.
Their suggestion was especially fitting seeing as how I was planning to bring a bomber of Fort Collins Brewery's Maibock, a seasonal German-style lager that I thought would go nicely with some sweet, savory and spicy sausage.
I tasted the picante salami, the lop chong, the sopressata and the saucisse sec, all of which had wonderfully unique flavors and spices that melted on my tongue with fatty decadence. Although they were a little pricey per pound, I bought a link of each, and since they were dried and cured, the sausages would last as long as I wanted them to.
To brighten things up even more, I also made some peach-pepper jam as an accompaniment to the sausages.
Homemade jam is an extremely easy task. In fact, it takes more effort to clean up than it does to actually make it. All you have to do is throw everything into a pot and let the heat do the rest. The result is the essence of fruit, a beautiful and sweet stew if you will, and the addition of peppers adds a slightly spicy depth of flavor. It was good enough to eat with a spoon, and come to find out, an ideal dip for the cured sausages.
The dried sausages and peach-pepper jam were a perfect pairing with the silky, malty lager (Fort Collins Brewery continues to impress me), but they were just part of a much bigger feast, in which everyone (including my buddy's four-year-old son, who made some killer chocolate ice cream) made a dish. All the food was great, as was the company, which more often than not is truly the right ingredient.
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Here's the recipe for the peach-pepper jam:
2 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced 4 cups sugar 3 dried chili peppers ground into a powder (if you don't have a grinder, a pestle and mortar will work) 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 cups of water
1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. 2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. Remove from heat and let cool completely before serving.