Cooking

The Jar Star Speaks

Preserving guru Paul Virant shares his secrets

You don't have to be a canning fiend to appreciate Paul Virant's new cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen ($21).

The chef of Perennial Virant and Vie is known for his overflowing canning closet, filled with thousands of jars of sweet-pickled cherry tomatoes, blueberry aigre-doux and the like.

The form of the second half of his book is familiar; it's dedicated to menus, from an Earth Day celebration to a midwinter feast, each with inspiring flavor combinations. You'll find recipes for wheatberry salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette, and sunchokes with maple-black walnut butter.

But it's the book's first half that demands The Preservation Kitchen be added to any well-balanced cookbook shelf. There, Virant offers detailed recipes for dozens of pickles, marmalades, mostardas and more.

We homed in on a recipe for rhubarb-beer jam. Once cooked, the jam is effervescent and bright--not only in flavor, but in its boldly pink hue (click here to see the recipe).

As preserving is only the first step, Virant recommends using this jam in a Calvados-based cocktail, and we also plan to spoon ours over goat cheese, lamb chops and duck breast.

Perennial Virant 1800 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago IL 60614 312-981-7070

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