Saturday, November 01, 2008

Easy and Homemade: Apricot-Cranberry Chutney

For an article in the Athens Magazine that featured our family restaurant business, I developed a fruit chutney to accomapny the roast turkey in a meal themed 'Traditional with an International Flair.' In part, the chutney was a substitute for my usual homemade whole cranberry sauce, because at the time the dinner was photographed and the article written -- August, to be ready for the magazine's November issue -- there were no fresh cranberries to be found. There are cranberries in the chutney, but they are the dried variety that have recently become popular as 'Craisins.' These are popular with me too, and I use them in a variety of dishes.

Here's a condiment that is strongly influenced by the Anglo-Indian 'Major Grey's' mango chutney. Major Grey's chutney is a fusion food, from before when fusion was 'fusion'. It emerged in the 19th century from the Indian aam chatney, but was adapted to the tastes of the British colonials for their curry tiffins and, when bottled, for eating back home in England and Scotland. So going a step further to changing the fruit and benefitting from the now available dried fruits that are seasonless, we arrive at this chutney. The sweet/sour-ginger/garlic/spicy tanginess of the original Anglo-Indian chutney is there, but with different fruit overtones. To my taste, it's a fine condiment for roast turkey. (And for layering on top of Brie cheese baked in a crust.)

The recipe makes over a quart, but leftovers store well in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen.

Apricot-Cranberry Chutney Tim

1 pound (about 2-1/4 cups, packed) dried apricots, soft Turkish style preferred
1 medium orange, organic if possible
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Coarsely chop the apricots, using a chef's knife on a cutting board. Place in a stainless steel or enamel -- not aluminum or cast iron -- sauce pan.

Scrub the orange well and rub it dry with a towel. With a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, cut three 3-inch long strips of the zest and place them in the container of a food processer or blender. Peel the orange, and cut it into chunks, removing any seeds. Add the orange to the orange zest pieces. Thinly peel the ginger, then slice it very thinly crosswise and add it to the orange. Crush and remove skin from the garlic, and add garlic to the orange. Purée the mixture until very smooth, scraping down the inside of the container from time to time. Add a little of the water, if needed, to thoroughly purée.

Add the puréed mixture to the apricots, along with the (rest of the) water, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and oil. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cranberries, and simmer another 8 minutes. Add a little water, if the mixture is too thick.

It's best to make this in advance and refrigerate it -- in a glass or plastic container, not metal -- so the flavors blend.


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