Monday, September 29, 2014

Just a Little Heat

The other day, I made a batch of chutney that was turning out to be rather ho-hum.  Oh, it had lovely fruity flavors, since it involved apples, rhubarb, dried cranberries, and fresh lemon zest.  But, it was lacking heat...the only spice it had was a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. 

Chutney needs a little oomph to it, a little fire on the tounge and a hint of clear out those sinuses, for it to be really, really good.  Plus, I think that the heat helps set off the sweetness, which can get a bit insipid after it sits in the jar for a while. 

Here comes the humble jalepeno to the rescue!

By finely chopping a single jalepeno pepper, it completely transformed the chutney.  Instead of being full of fall flavors, it packed a little kick that knocked it out of the park.  I've made a note in the pages of my cookbook, and I think I'll be making it this way from now on.

Slightly Hotter Apple Rhubarb Chutney
(taken from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

You'll need: four cups peeled, cored & diced apples; 4 cups granulated sugar; 2 cups diced rhubarb; 1/2 cup water; zest and juice of one lemon; 1/2 cup dried cranberries; 1 jalepeno pepper, finely diced*; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg.

* this is my personal modification, and I think makes all the difference between ho-hum and oh-wow

Combine the apples, sugar, rhubarb, water, lemon juice and zest in a large stainless steel pot.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce and allow to simmer 15 minutes.

Add the pepper, dried cranberries and spices, stir to combine.  Simmer another 15 minutes until the chutney is thick enough to mound on a spoon.  Ladle chutney into half-pint jars (I got about six) leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Pop on a hot lid, tighten bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I'm planning on serving up this chutney with a nice cheese, or smearing it onto bread to make a decadent roast turkey (or chicken) sandwich.  Either way, it's going to have the perfect amount of sweet-hot decadence.

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