01 December 2009

Chutney for me

If you, too, are one of those cooks who reads a great recipe, thinks, "I'll have to try that," and then immediately forgets you ever read it, listen up.

I'm going to tell you to do something. First, read this recipe. Then, go make it. In a couple of weeks, you'll thank me.

I came across this recipe for Pear and Currant Chutney about a month ago while thumbing through an old Saveur Magazine. I read through the recipe, it sounded simple enough, and all I needed to pick up was some brandy. I've never made chutney before, but after this experience, I can happily tell you that it's ridiculously easy. Just cook down a few ingredients, cool and place in a jar. You don't actually process it (as in canning), you just pop the lid on and stick it in the fridge. It will be ready in one week and can be stored for up to four weeks. The longer you give it to ripen, the more the flavor develops.

Pear and Currant Chutney simmers on the stovetop for about an hour.

This batch made enough to fill three 8-ounce jars. I wanted to do them separately, so I could taste them at different stages of ripeness. And another reason? The small jars are the perfect size for gifting. Keep a few in the fridge for a quick holiday appetizer, too. Pile some of the chutney atop a wheel of brie and serve with crackers. Simple and tasty. It also tasted delicious with our Thanksgiving turkey.

Once cooked, the chutney is placed in jars to cool and then store for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

OK, go to the kitchen now. Make it today, and it will be ready just in time for the holiday gathering season!

Pear and Currant Chutney over Brie with Homemade Rosemary Crackers.

Pear and Currant Chutney
Saveur, November 2004

Allow this chutney to ripen in the refrigerator for up to four weeks; it improves with age.

1 cup dried currants
6 tablespoons pear brandy*
4 bosc pears, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3"-3 1/2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Pinch cayenne

Put currants and brandy into a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until currants are plump and have absorbed most of the liquor, about seven minutes. Add pears, celery, sugar, lemon juice, ginger and cayenne and stir well. Return to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pears are very soft and translucent and juices are thick and syrupy, about 1 hour.

Put chutney into a clean jar with a tight fitting lid; set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature.

* Pear brandy is expensive, and I couldn't find it in a small bottle, so I substituted regular brandy, which seemed to work well.

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