Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pumpkin Chutney

One of the most popular items on our menu at the tearoom is Cheese & Chutney Panini. I've been surprised by how many people have never tried the combination of toasty bread, cheese & chutney before, as it is delicious, and has been the post-pub meal of choice for myself & Mike for as long as I can remember.
But then, I have always been a fun of chutneys & pickles over jams & curds.

Ahh, chutney. Friend of cheese, saviour of the boring sandwich, secret ingredient of savoury dishes from stew to tagine (I'm not kidding, try stirring a heaped tablespoon of good chutney into pie fillings, curries or casseroles. It makes all the difference). I make several types of chutney for the tearoom, a good flavourful Winter Ale chutney for the aforementioned Panini, Tomato & Ale to accompany the Calzones & summery specials, Lincolnshire Pickle for the Ploughmans Lunch, plus seasonal specials depending on what I have an abundance of in the garden or the local hedgerows.
It's All Hallows Eve next week, which means that there are pumpkins everywhere (yay!). Most folks will be suggesting you make soup from your pumpkin (yawn), but soup is such a simple, sparse recipe, it needs a really good squash (like Kabocha, Onion or the mighty Crown Prince to make it worthwhile (and those big orange numbers in the supermarket are a little lacking in flavour). So make some Pumpkin Chutney!

Pumpkin Chutney
700g pumpkin (any variety will do, really), peeled, deseeded & chopped (the size of the pieces is up to you. I like quite a chunky chutney, but if you have nothing better to do you could painstakingly chop it into 1cm cubes).
700g apples, peeled, cored & chopped
1 large onion, peeled & diced
300g demerera sugar (or any brown sugar)
450ml cider vinegar
250g raisins
1tsp salt
1tbs chilli flakes
1" ginger, peeled & chopped

Pile all of that into your preserving pan. I know it doesn't look like there's enough vinegar in there, but there is.
In a piece of muslin (though I used a reusable teabag here. A crazy little invention from Whittards) tie up 1tsp peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick (you can break it up if you need to) & 6 or 7 cloves. Or you can add 1/2 tsp mixed spice. Chuck into the preserving pan & bring everything slowly to the boil. This will occupy you for the next hour or so. Listen to some music. Or the radio. Go on iPlayer and listen to Cabin Pressure, a radio comedy about an airline (well, airdot, you need more than one plane to make a line) and play 'Brians* of Britain'. I don't encourage knitting, you'll get onion on the yarn.
Stir occasionally, and when it reaches a boil reduce to a simmer & give it the odd stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or burns (unlikely to happen at the start, but after an hour it'll get thick & tricksy). After about an hour (maybe more, maybe less depending on how watery your pumpkin is) it will have darkened in colour and thickened up, and you can draw your spoon across the bottom and see the base of the pan briefly, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Only it's a chutney sea.

You have Chutney! Spoon into clean, sterilised jars & seal. Waste half an hour on Google images looking for a good picture to go on the label, then store in a cool, dark place for a couple of months to mature (though you'll probably have one jar that's only half full. That can be used straight away. Future jars will be more matured and well rounded in flavour, but it will still be tasty.

*Name famous Brits called Brian. Like Blessed, or Cox.

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