chicken marmalade…..


I can never understand how jam, a confit of boiled fruit and sugar, can be known by the catchall of jelly and yet, in the USA, it apparently is. It’s the lack of care in defining the difference between a thick syrup, laden with morsels of sugar infused fruit and a carefully sieved and clarified confection that surprises me. In the same anodyne fashion the word “cookie” covers the infinite range of biscuits with the added jarring note of an infantile diminutive style… and whence stemmed this etymological rage, Roger ? I’ll tell you. It stemmed from the moment this morning when I took the remains of a good roast chicken from the fridge. All that remained was the carcase, ready for stock making, but that carcase was surrounded by a thick layer of translucent golden jelly which is produced by my assiduous basting of the chicken during its time in the oven. Aside from my immediate thought, that of grilling some bread on which to spread this treasure for a mid morning snack, it reawakened the jam and jelly controversy.  What I was hungrily looking at beneath and around the chicken carcase was most definitely jelly and the jar, on the shelf above it, filled with boiled fruit and sugar was undoubtedly a jar of apricot jam. There are indeed some mouthwatering confections of fruit preserves that are undoubtedly jellies and these are the sweet brethren of the savoury jelly that lay beneath my chicken and was about to be spread on my toast. The words sucré et salé, sugared and salted, serve as much clearer definitions of the difference in taste between that which we commonly know as sweet or savoury but words, in matters of taste, will always give way to the defining sensations of the palate. Was there to be an unlabeled jar of this clear, amber jelly on the breakfast table I am sure that I would assume it to be a sugared confection and it would be shortly after that moment that my palate would be examining the unexpected saltiness of chicken marmalade.



About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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34 Responses to chicken marmalade…..

  1. cheergerm says:

    Your mock marmalade looks mouth watering and what a surprise awaits the unwary. Your photos are once again sublime.

  2. Vicki says:


    Jelly is jelly. A clear ‘jelled’ substance. Surely. Clear and of even texture. It may, or may not, have sugar in it. Chicken juices can be jellied like aspic jelly.
    Jam is jam. From my limited knowledge, usually made of fruit and sugar and is usually lumpy, In fact, most jams have lumps of fruit clearly discernible.

    I heard a rumour once that a well known cheap apricot jam made locally near Melbourne (where I live) had no apricot whatsoever.

    I guess we Aussies take after our (mostly) British early ancestors and the Americans take after someone else (when it comes to nomenclature).

  3. bizzyella says:

    No, Roger, we distinguish between jelly and jam. We even do it in the same way that you do. Or, if we are getting crazy about our grammar, we do it in the same way as do you. Well, except that we call chicken marmalade/jelly/jam, aspic. It does look good. You have me thinking I need to do something with the chicken carcass sitting in my own fridge.

  4. MELewis says:

    My dear, sweet Mom had a penchant for bramble jelly, which she clearly distinguished from jam, the stuff with the clumps of fruit. I prefer the latter but hasten to point out that, in Canada at least, we do know our jellies from our jams! Bon app, as they in these parts.

    • I remember Bramble Jelly really well, the British version having a very apolitically correct title! I seemed to be being proved wrong in my belief that those on the far side of the Atlantic don’t know their jams from their jellies….but do they know the biscuits from their cookies? 🙂

      • MELewis says:

        My grandparents always ate biscuits (Nice, Digestives, etc) hailing from this side of the Atlantic. And we kids grew up on a steady diet of good ole American chocolate chip cookies!

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    In my experience we matched jelly with ice cream, jam with toast and everything else was in aspic.
    Though….. I do cook a tasty Chinese boiled chicken that yields lots of clear jelly-like protein. That gets thrown back into the pot along with the carcass to provide a litre of jellyish stock.

  6. How about the best of both worlds? Add your apricot jam to the basting liquid. In the morning, collect the perfect combination of sweet and salty… apricot chicken marmalade/jam/jelly. 🙂

  7. And just to confise matters the Spanish call all jam “mermelada”…I have tried to put them right but there’s no telling them 😉

  8. In the US jelly and jam can be often be interchanged ie peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which are made with jam. But a lot of people also distinguish between the two as well. Really depends on the person!

  9. It is confusing. I’m still not 100% sure what the difference is. I think one has more preserves? Your looks beautiful.

  10. Mad Dog says:

    I’ve got my chicken jelly cooking in the pressure cooker right now, but I’ll eat my St. John bread with marma-lard 😉

  11. Wow what a beautiful photo and how very interesting!

  12. ardysez says:

    I am late reading this, but to add fuel to the debate, what about conserve? When I first came to Australia distinguishing jelly from jam was not a problem, but adding ‘conserve’ to the shelf contents in the grocery really confused me. I haven’t seen it for years and wonder what were the distinguishing qualities? Now you have be longing for the next time I have some chicken jelly… your photo makes it look like apricot jam/jelly/whatever–delicious.

    • You’re right about conserves. The shelves here have confiture, gelee and conserve…..I think conserve means more expensive! However, “conserver” means to preserve in French. On other hand, or whatever, a “preservatif” is a condom, so best not to get confused with your jams and your johnnies:)

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