Monday, November 8, 2010

Cranberry Chutney

What is in the shape of an 8oz can, jiggles unnaturally, and has a not so pleasant color? Canned cranberries! You know the stuff. At thanksgiving you see it served on good china or a Crystal severing platter. At the end of the dinner you see it almost always untouched. Now, I’m not saying that it’s not tasty, but what I am saying, is that it looks unappealing. I remember my Mom always had a few cans that she sliced into medallions thinking that this would disguise the tell tale signature of the 8 oz can mold.

I’ve been invited and attended dozens of thanksgiving dinners over the years and only on a few occasions have I seen “real” cranberries served. When I say real, I mean fresh cranberries that have been cooked and used in chutneys, sauces, and stuffing. Unless the cook has a love affair with cranberries, they are often that side item that is more of an afterthought, than an “OH, I’m ganna make this explode with flavor!”

With my children at the age when they are creating memories for a lifetime, I attempt to give them those “food memories” that I have when I was there age. I want them to remember the cranberries as a pleasure, not a terror. I don’t want them to associate cranberries with the 8oz can mold. I want them to know that Cranberries are a fruit that is delicious, nutritious and versatile. So, I struck out and played with many different dishes for the Thanksgiving table. I vaguely recall it took 5 or so years of trying different recipes and modifying ingredients to get a recipe I liked and complemented the abundance of foods traditionally served at the Thanksgiving table.

I worked on a Cranberry sauce at first, but after 2 years of the Turkey gravy and cranberry sauce turning my plate into a lake, I decided to go with a chutney. It wasn’t quite a stuffing nor, was it the gelatinous jelly mold. It was something in between that seems to go with everything and still eye appealing. In the end, I repeated the recipe for 3 years only modifying it a time or 2 to adjust for my taste. I presented it 2 times at a Thanksgiving potluck at my church and each time both at home and at the potlucks my dish was always gone. To me that equals a successful recipe.

Cranberry Chutney

The Fixings: 
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 cloves minced garlic
3 teaspoon peeled minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

The How Too's:
Cook shallots in extra virgin olive oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, just until berries pop, 10 to 12 minutes.

The Aftermath:
Transfer to bowl and let cool.  Refrigerate 72 hours prior to serving so that flavors can infuse the overall dish. After the resting time, simply remove from the fridge and place in a serveing dish.  Garnish with fresh cranberrys if desired.

What I like about this recipe is that you can make this day’s prior to the event. Once, I completely forgot about the cranberries because I became so consumed with cooking the turkey.  It was a little embarrassing but I shrugged it off to having a delicious turkey cooked to perfection.  So, as always, I invite you to try this recipe out and change it to fit your desires.  Add some other fruit, pine nuts, or even some sage.  The ideas are endless!

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