Apple and Stem Ginger Chutney

I have been making chutneys and jams for my friends and family for Christmas presents as long as I can remember. It’s perhaps my annual ritual that I treasure the most. It signifies making the most of the autumnal farmers’ market or foraging treasures and is one of the first steps I take each year when starting to plan for the festive season.

There was a time when I rotated the chutneys I made, perhaps an apple, pear and hazelnut chutney, often a piccalilli or even a traditional dowerhouse chutney. However since I developed this particular Apple and Stem Ginger Chutney a couple of years ago there has been absolutely no looking back. It has been one of my favourite kitchen creations and now I make it every single year to pass onto my loved ones, and of course to scoff myself with a mountain of cheese.

I rather like it as it’s not one of those chunky chutneys that makes your sandwich all lumpy, or a chutney that is stuffed with little pops of sultanas making the whole affair too fruity. No, this chutney has the perfect balance of texture from the soft apples, of sweetness from the stem ginger and a warmth of spice from the root ginger, chipotle chilli powder, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Apple & Stem Ginger Chutney

In fact I love this chutney so much that it became one of the first recipes to be cemented in my new preserves venture ‘From The Larder’. I have made jars upon jars this year, so that I can spread the joy a little further than my friends and family and I will be selling it on all my market stalls leading up to Christmas. My inaugural preserves stall is at the Stroud Green Winter Fair this Saturday 22nd November at the Stapleton Tavern in Stroud Green and I can’t wait to showcase all the lovely produce I have been foraging for, jarring and canning since the summer. If you are around then do drop by and pick up a jar of this Apple and Stem Ginger Chutney. However, if you are far away then don’t fret as I’ve included the recipe below so you can make a batch of your own.

Apple & Stem Ginger Chutney

This chutney is perfect on your festive cheeseboard as it goes with pretty much any cheese. It’s also incredibly addictive so don’t be surprised if you find you are balancing more chutney on your cracker instead of cheese. This recipe makes a good few jars but it’s perfect to give away as presents or to hoard yourself so you can keep your supplies well on the go until next year’s batch.

Apple & Stem Ginger Chutney

Apple and Stem Ginger Chutney

Makes 12 x 200ml jars

For the spice bag:
50g root ginger
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1.5kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced
1.5kg Cox Pippin apples, peeled, cored and diced
1kg white onions, diced
4 balls stem ginger, finely chopped
500g soft light brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon chipotle chilli powder
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of sea salt

  1. Place the spice bag ingredients into a muslin bag and then put into a large preserving pan with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 2.5 hours.
  3. Remove the spice bag then decant the chutney into sterilised jars.
  4. Keep in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before eating.

Mango Chutney

Mango Chutney
This is my first chutney of the year.  I managed to divest my laden larder with a good majority of pickles, jams and chutneys over the festive period but now it’s about the time where I start to build up my stores again.

If I am honest I made this chutney a few weeks ago when the calls of our local Fruit and Veg man hollering outside Finsbury Park asking us to ‘Taste the mango’ got the better of me.  I did want to taste the mango.  Then it reminded me how long it’s been since I had a good cheese and mango chutney sandwich.  Since I didn’t have any mangos in, I put the abundance of mangoes on the stall to good use and stirred up a very quick and fragrant chutney that afternoon.  I followed Diana Henry’s advice on mango chutney but did not carry through the hotness of her recipe, instead toning it down as I wanted to create something more subtle.

Cheese loves a good mellow chutney or jam; please see my earlier obsession with cheese and peach jam.  Mango chutney is a perfect partner and I particularly like a softly spiced version so that the delicate mango flavour isn’t powered out, bedding down nicely a good crumbly cheese.

Mango Chutney

This classic sandwich combination always reminds me of my mother who at the mere mention of mango chutney will without fail wax lyrical about a good mango chutney and cheese sandwich.  And with good reason, a generous dollop of sticky chutney oozing out a toasted sandwich filled with gooey English cheddar is truly a magnificent lunch and reminds me a lot of my childhood.

I don’t eat as many sandwiches as I used to but this doesn’t mean my chutney consumption has calmed down.  My current favourite use is to add a delicate amount to a salad of nutty emmental, cucumber and iceberg lettuce.  All you need then is a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper to finish it off.  The mango chutney adds a lovely balance of sweet and sourness to this simple salad.

And of course, it would be remiss not to discuss how a lovely tablespoon of this chutney added to a homemade curry can provide its own dimension to the recipe, adding a mellowed sweetness to counteract your spicing.

Mango Chutney

Mango Chutney
Adapted from Diana Henry’s Very Hot Mango Chutney in ‘Salt Sugar Smoke’

6 mangos
¼ tsp cloves
8 cardamom pods, deshelled
1.5 tsp coriander seeds
4 black peppercorns
1 tsp black mustard seeds
500g onions, diced
500g granulated sugar
600ml cider vinegar
3 green chillies, deseeded
nutmeg
30g fresh ginger, diced finely
zest and juice of 2 limes

  • Peel the mangos and cut the flesh of the fruit from around the middle stone. Chop the fruit into cubes, there might not be much uniformity from the flesh cut close from the stone. Set aside.
  • In a large preserving pan toast the cloves, cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and mustard seeds over a low heat for a minute or so to release their fragrance.
  • Add the diced onions, sugar, vinegar and chillies to the pan, bring to a gentle simmer and cook through for about 10 mins.
  • Add the mango, nutmeg, ginger and lime zest. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 mins until the mixture is jam like.
  • Stir through the lime juice for the last couple of minutes of cooking, then decant into sterilised jars.
  • The chutney is best left for at least 4 weeks for the flavour to mature.

Sun Scorcher Chilli Chutney and Devil’s Pheasant Legs

This is the tale of the Transformation of the Humble Chilli Chutney into the Magnificent Devil’s Pheasant. Or The Eff Up and The Fix.

So, I was trying to be clever but I should know from past experience that it isn’t a good look on me. I have made Jamie Oliver’s cheeky chilli chutney from his Jamie At Home book before and it went down a storm in our house. I have always meant to make it again but truth be told it is a little bit of a faff as you have to scorch the chillies under the grill before peeling them.

So when I brought home 1 kilo of luminescent yellow chillies from the farmers market I gallantly thought that I would spend a day making a season’s worth of chilli chutney to keep us going through the cold months. Never mind the fact that in Jamie’s recipe he only asked us to grill and peel 8 chillies and I thought that was a lot of effort. I had 35 of them.

chillies
At this point I should have changed this part of the recipe and thought sod it and just chucked them in peel and all like a sane cook would do. But I remembered how nice it was not to pick all that stringy skin out of your teeth and I threw a halo over my head, halved each chilli, chucked them under the grill and then painstakingly peeled each one.

It was at this point in the recipe that I thought I knew better than Jamie. I tried one of these yellow chillies and it was a mild as a newborn lamb so I thought, well I want a bit of heat in my chutney so howsabout I just leave the seeds in. This was a brilliant idea. I patted myself on the back for my ingenuity and bunged the chillies and seeds but not skin into the preserving pan along with the rest of the ingredients.

chilli chutney in the panThe first clue appeared about half an hour later when the tips of my fingers started to sizzle ever so slightly despite having washed them keenly after the peeling process. Then my eyelids started to quiver. I ran to the preserving pan and lifted the lid carefully. The heat of the contents blew my eyebrows off my head like a cartoon animal. To say the smallest pinprick of the chutney alone was enough to send me into cardiac arrest would be an understatement. I bottled the chutney threw a danger label on it and pondered what I could do with it to save my whole day from being a waste.
chilli chutney
I have left it for a week and it has mellowed out a smidge. A smidge. The initial taste is vibrant, sweet and hot, before it burns your throat. However, all it needs is tempering down and so I decided to try it out with the pheasant legs I had just acquired. I blanketed the pheasant with a couple of teaspoons of the chutney swirled into cooling yoghurt and baked it in the oven much like you would with chicken tandoori. The result was lovely. The gamey pheasant could easily handle the chilli heat and simmering it down with the yoghurt meant you could still appreciate the complexity of the chutney taste. It made a really nice alternative to chicken drumsticks and the pheasant legs are so cheap at the moment from your local game supplier that it’s great for feeding a crowd.
Devils pheasant ingredients
If you like a fresh hot chilli chutney then this recipe even persuaded me in the end. The quantities will not be right if you substitute in red or green chillies so I wouldn’t advise it. If you wanted a chutney with less heat then don’t add the seeds, or add a quarter of them. An easy alternative for the pheasant dish would just be to use some harissa if you don’t feel like peeling a whole bunch of chillies and peppers.

Sun Scorcher Chilli Chutney
Heavily adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home

1 kilo of yellow chillies
9 yellow bell peppers
2 large onions
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cinnamon
200g caster sugar
300ml cider vinegar

  1. Halve the chillies, discarding as many of the seeds as you want. If you want sun scorcher chilli chutney them don’t remove any of them. Halve the bell peppers too and place the peppers and chillies skin side up under a hot grill. Grill them in batches as they won’t all fit under at once.
  2. Once they are blackened, remove and put immediately into a bowl covered with cling film. Leave until they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Peel off the blackened skin which should come off easily then dice very small.
  4. Place the chillies and peppers into a preserving pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 1 hour until the chutney has reduced to a nice syrupy consistency.
  5. Bottle into sterilised jars.

Devil’s Pheasant Legs

10 x pheasant legs
300g greek style yoghurt
2 tsp sun scorcher chilli chutney
1 tsp tomato puree
salt and pepper

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and rub over the pheasant legs.
  2. Marinade for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
  3. Take the pheasant legs out of the marinade and place on a baking tray.
  4. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10-15 mins. The pheasant legs still want to be very slightly pink.
  5. If the yoghurt hasn’t crusted up quite enough then you can finish off with a blowtorch.