Joan Weigle, who staffs the Fiddleheads Membership Info Desk every Saturday, loves Lior Lev Secarz's Spicy Cranberry Chutney with Apricots and Pecans . This recipe blends fresh cranberries, heated in cider and pomegranate juice, dried apricots and toasted pecans, then seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, clove, fennel, orange zest, etc. to subtle and complex effects that Joan appreciates. She said that it won the day for her in a competition with her daughter to determine who made the better chutney.
Cost of fresh cranberries at Fiddleheads: $3.00/lb
Hearing your child admit for once that Mom/Dad is right: PRICELESS
In the last two years I have inexplicably gone from "I can't stand spicy food" to "You call that spicy?" So if you're going to label your recipe "spicy", you'd better bring it.
For a time I fancied it was a result of growing sophistication on my part, until a friend pointed out to me, "Don't you know that you lose taste buds as you age?" (Yes, but I forgotten - because I didn't yet conceptualize myself as "aging". But now I do. Thanks. And I'd been so happy in my little world of fragile illusions "Look, a unicorn...!")
When I made the first batch of this for myself, I had to make some small adjustments due to availability and budget. I used watered-down black current juice from the co-op, which I already had at home, in place of the apple cider and pomegranate juice called for in the original. Black current juice is fairly strongly-flavored; nonetheless he result was, for my palate, surprisingly bland. I couldn't even taste the pecans, except to as a bit of crunchy texture. Tasty, but hardly worth the trouble and expense over my regular cranberry sauce recipe. (Now if someone would like to make a batch and show me how to "do it right"? Meet me at Fiddleheads and I will be glad, unlike Joan's daughter, to be proven wrong.)
So for my version I've I doubled the spices, added a splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne in addition to the original's versions spices. Pecans are replaced by the more strongly-flavored and economical walnuts and raisins are thrown in the mix. Finally a touch of maple syrup balances the acidic flavors. You'll want to let it "rest" for 48 hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to mellow and really come together: tangy but not sharp, slightly sweet without being sugary. It's only when each bite slides off your tongue at the last do the spices "announce" themselves.
Spicier Cranberry Chutney
(adapted from Lev Lior Sacarz's original)
1/2 medium or 1 small red onion, chopped fine
olive oil for skillet
1 tea. ground cinnamon
1 whole anise star, or 1/2 tea. either ground fennel or anise
1/2 - 1 tea. ground cardamon
1/4 tea. ground allspice
1/4 - 1/3 freshly grated ginger
1/4 tea. ground cayenne
1/2 cup black current juice
1/2 cup water
juice and pulp of two large oranges
12 ounces fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
black pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 dried apricots, chopped into small dice (to prevent knife from sticking, coat with a very small amount of oil or other oil)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted/dry-roasted, then coarsely chopped or broken
2 tea. finely grated fresh orange zest, or the same amount of dried orange peel in small pieces, soaked in tepid water until softened
2 T apple cider vinegar
7-10 tea. maple syrup or amber (neutral) agave syrup, or to taste
wheatberries, cooked (optional, see note below)
In a heated skilled with slightly amount of olive oil, saute the chopped onion on low heat until tender and translucent, stirring frequently to prevent sticking; do not allow to brown.
Combine spices, except pepper, with the current juice and water into a large saucepan; add the orange juice and pulp to the pan. If using dried orange zest rather than fresh, and it and the soaking water to the pan now. Bring just to boil, then add the fresh cranberries; allow to return to the boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until cranberries begin to pop, about 5-7 minutes. Add a few rounds of cracked black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If you used whole anise stars, fish them out now before going on to the next step (unless pawing through a bowl of chunky burgundy chutney looking for chunks of barely-darker anise stars is your idea of a good time.)
In a bowl combine the dried fruits and the walnuts; if using fresh zest rather than dried, add it now. Add the cooked cranberry mixture to the bowl, and the apple cider vinegar. Add the sauteed chopped onion. Combine everything thoroughly, making sure fruits, nuts and onion are well-coated. Add the sweetener to taste, in increments, until satisfied, and adjust all seasonings to your liking. The taste at this point will probably be somewhat sharp.
Put into the refrigerator in a covered container, and allow to "rest" for at least 48 hours if possible; by then the flavors will have sufficiently "mellowed" and come together nicely.
Note: Cooked wheatberries stirred in any time after combining all other ingredients, even days later, add a chewy texture element. They also lend a heft that makes the chutney more substantive and filling; makes a nice breakfast or anytime treat.
It also solves the vexing question, "I got this because I'm trying to add whole grains to my diet but now what the heck do I DO with them?"
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Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.