Things are getting fancy boys and girls! But just for now. Let’s say you found a source for a natural, delicious turkey, and you want to roast one after Thanksgiving say, for New Years. No cranberry for us, but rather we’re going fancy with an apple chutney. Chutney?? Doesn’t that only come from jars? Why no! It comes from your stove top. It’s not difficult or complex, and I have it on good authority it does not really even require a precise recipe. But you probably want one, at least to start.
Here’s the idea of a chutney, as I understand it so far: A chutney is like a jam in that it is based on fruit and gets thick from heating fruit with sugar and the pectin from the fruit. But a chutney is not just sweet — it takes the sweet and dons a debonair flair with sour and pungent. As in: brown sugar and apples (sweet) meet apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds and onions. The sweet from the sugar balances the sour of the vinegar, and the pungent of the hot peppers and mustard adds a third dimension. Do this relatively right and the flavors sing harmoniously. This chutney — if all goes according to plan — will enliven a nice roast turkey. Or at least that is the plan. [Update: my guests loved it! I thought I was going to have to hard sell it: “Eat the chutney, eat the chutney. Chutney with turkey.” But nope. Folks loved it and were asking me what that was, it was so good. Yup. All gone.]
4 firm apples (about 1-1/2 to 2 #) — include at least a couple Granny Smith or Mutsu (tart), and exclude McIntosh or other mushy/mushes when cooked apples) — peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ or less chunks
1-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is recommended)
1-1/2 c. sugar (300 g), approx 2/3 light brown sugar and 1/3 regular granulated (white) sugar
1 lemon (for juice to squeeze onto cut-up apple)
ginger — 2 oz or 2″ piece, peeled and rough chopped
couple garlic cloves
1 shallot, chopped (0ptional)
hot red pepper flakes — about 1 t
salt — about 1 to 1-1/2 t
2 T yellow mustard seeds
1 c. raisins (135 g) (or more if you like raisins, which I don’t especially, but they’re good here)
1 onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced (hold until later)
Measure out vinegar and sugar into pot, and heat on medium heat until odoriferous and sugar has melted. Turn off heat to wait for remaining ingredients to join the pot.
Peel and rough chop a 2″ or 2-oz piece of ginger. Toss into mini processor with garlic, shallot, salt and red pepper flakes. Give it a whirl.
When you chop apples, put them into a bowl, and squeeze a couple Tablespoons of lemon juice, and mix in (to keep apples fresh/ not brown).
Put chopped apple, ginger mixture, raisins, and mustard seeds into vinegar mixture. Heat over medium heat, reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes until apples are soft (but don’t disappear into mush) and it thickens somewhat.
20 minutes before it is done, stir in onion.
Put in a bowl and leave out to cool, or pop into refrigerator uncovered. It will thicken up as it cools. Cover and store for up to one week. Makes a good amount, almost 1 quart.
Guide/Initial reference: Bon Appetit Apple Chutney (epicurious.com Nov. 1996)