At The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen a while back, we noticed a small stack of jars that clearly weren't sodas at the bottom of the drinks cooler. That prompted a sit down with The American's co-owner Nate Pollak, as soon as he finished his shift in the kitchen.
What's with the jars of jam?
You're referring to our famous Apricot-Jalapeno Relish. It's a relish we make in house, and is the featured item on one of our most popular grilled cheese sandwiches, The Jalapeno Popper [It features chèvre, monterey jack, applewood-smoked bacon, apricot-jalapeño relish on levain.]
When and how did you decide to start jarring it?
An employee was making relish one day and misread the recipe and used three times the onions we needed, so we scaled up the recipe and ended up with about 20 gallons, right before Christmas. So I jarred it and pitched it as a holiday gift. It's spicy. It's sweet. It's Sour. People came back and wanted another jar.
So you're doing more?
This is our second jarring. Our third jarring is next week.
How are people using the relish?
Our customers have been buying a lot of it and coming up with their own recipes to use the relish with, like glazed pork chops, burgers, etc.
Do you have a history of pickling, personally?
My family are picklers. There were always pickles in the fridge, pickled tomoatoes, pickled herring. I learned how to pickle as a kid. Gus's Pickles in New York has always been my guiding light.
We're planning on jarring and packaging a number of our other popular items in the near future; our housemade pickled cucumbers, pickled onions, a variety of our mustards, baking mixes, etc. I've been talking to a specialty grocer about retailing them.
Can you say who the "specialty grocer" is?
They're very secretive who they put on because they want the next hot [thing].
After talking to Pollack, SFoodie dug into a jar of the accidental relish.
Tasting Notes: Apricot-Jalapeno Relish
A green orange jumble, chunky and full of flakes. The balance between the sweetness and heat is precise. From moment to moment the two flavor compliments dance forward and back into the mouth-light with a sweet start and a seriously mouth warming finish.
For the moment, The American's Apricot-Jalapeno Relish is available solely in the cooler case in the restaurant. $7.50 for an eight oz. jar.