Friday, May 6, 2011

Spicy Apricot Chutney

I love my neighbor, Julie.  Not just because she has my name, but because when we meet a new neighbor, I can introduce us by saying "Wer're Julie."

I love my neighbor, Julie.  Not just because she has the most adorable, doe-eyed Beagle I've ever met, but because said Beagle parks her tush outside my house whenever they walk by because "she remembers where she'e been fed."  Also, I love that she brings the Beagle when she comes over for the occasional dinner party.  Theo likes to have playmates too!

I love my neighbor, Julie.  Not just because she works at Costco, but because this year she gave me her free frozen turkey Costco employees are given for Christmas.

I love my neighbor, Julie.  Not just because she loved the apricot chutney I served when she came over to help me eat that turkey, but because when I asked her this week what type of ice cream I should make she said "Vanilla ice cream...with your apricot chutney!"

Full disclosure, this was way back in February.  Poor Julie has been waiting for this recipe for a long time!  I had a few neighbors, including Julie, over for a (huge - true to Costco!) turkey dinner.  Just two months after Thanksgiving, I was looking to go beyond cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.  And my Indian-flavored turkey dinner was born!  I'm a total dork, and apparently had trouble thinking too far out of the box, because I still roasted a turkey.  Instead of sage and thyme, I used garam masala, turmeric, and ginger.  Instead of mashed potatoes, I made mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and yogurt.  And instead of cranberry sauce, I made apricot chutney!

I was nervous how it would go over.  Indian flavors are a bit more...aggressive.  And this chutney was spicy, sweet, and so tangy it was positively pungent all at the same time!  I was sure a person or two wouldn't be able to handle it.  I was most nervous about Julie.  She who declares raisins aren't food surely wouldn't go for something so decidedly dried-fruity, and...aggressive.

So naturally, she took one bite, parked the serving bowl right next to her plate, and declared it would be staying right there the rest of the dinner.

And if we were nice to her, she might share with the rest of us.

Then she said I needed to blog the recipe.

Except I didn't have a recipe.

It was my first time making a chutney.  Ever.  And I kind of just added ingredients, tasting along the way, until it had just the right balance.  When it came time to write down the recipe, I had a hard time remembering what all I had thrown in, let along the quantities.  Don't you hate it when that happens?

So I made it again.  Darn!

This time I paid careful attention and took copious notes.  Until once again, I tasted the perfect balance of tangy vinegar against the sweet apricots, the savory aromatics, and the spice from the chiles.  The great thing about this chutney is how suitable it is to tinkering.  The proportions of vinegar to sugar to soy sauce can be adjusted to suit your own tastes, but I think this recipe yields pretty dang tasty results!

As reward for my efforts, I had an entire batch of chutney to eat to my hearts desire, and as I found, this chutney is great in all sorts of dishes.  My favorite was a fast and easy grilled cheese (panini style!) with pepperjack cheese.  *drool*

As a topping for all sorts of protein is delicious too.  Here, I opted for some simple grilled mahi mahi filets for a quick weeknight meal. Yum!

I don't know about vanilla ice cream though.  Sounds a bit weird.

Spicy Apricot Chutney

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 TB grapeseed oil (or canola or olive oil)
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 serrano chiles, minced (remove the seeds and ribs based on your spice preference!)
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB ginger, minced
10 oz. dried apricots, chopped (~2 cups)
1 cup white wine
2 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB soy sauce
3 TB white wine vinegar
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sweat the onion and shallot with a pinch of salt in the olive oil until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is softened and reduced.  Once the flavors have simmered together for a few minutes, try the mixture and adjust the flavorings as suits you.
  3. Serve with whatever your heart desires!

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