Fig, mustard and apple chutney
Want to spice up your holiday roast routine? Skip the gloopy gravy and think chutney instead.
Chutneys may have originated in India as an accompaniment to dishes like curries and dosas, but its migration spans the world. During the colonial period, the British fell in love with the tangy-spiced, fruit-studded condiment and brought it home, along with their favorite curry recipes. Since then, chutneys have also taken root in South African cuisine, as well as the Caribbean, where mango and papaya are favorite ingredients. As American palates have shifted to enjoy more global flavors, chutneys have gained popularity here too.
These condiments are traditionally made from fruit and spices, but they usually have a savory component to them as well. They can be made as a fresh relish or cooked to a jam-like consistency. Even if you've never had chutney before, you've probably tried its close cousin — cranberry sauce. Unlike the kind that slurps out of the can, many homemade cranberry sauces are an amalgam of spices, cranberries and other fruits and nuts, very much like their Indian relations. If you're already a fan of cranberry sauce, you’ll probably enjoy chutney even more, because there’s more to it: More depth, more tingle, more flavor.
For this chutney, start with an onion, Granny Smith apple and fresh figs, which naturally have a jammy quality to them. Crystallized ginger adds a spicy sweet bite, while whole grain Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar add tangy notes. A few more pantry staples, such as apple juice, cloves and cinnamon, elevate each individual ingredient in this condiment.
Once you've slowly simmered the chutney, it has a world of uses in your kitchen. Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve it: Pile the chutney into a bowl and serve it alongside holiday turkey and other grilled or roasted meats, such as chicken, pork or lamb. Spread it onto sourdough bread and top with several slices of havarti cheese and thinly sliced deli turkey. Griddle in a panini press for a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich. Add a spoonful to garnish a curried rice bowl. Spread store-bought crostini with softened goat cheese and top with chutney for an appetizer with cocktails.
Or cross something off your holiday list with one of my favorite uses: Spoon the chutney into a festive jar with a bow on top and gift it. (Don't forget to add a note that the chutney should be stored in the fridge!) Stocking stuffers and hostess gifts — check!
Homemade Fig, Mustard and Apple Chutney
Makes: About 3 cups
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, plus cooling time
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into thin wedges from root end to tip end
1 pound fresh Turkish brown figs, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch ground cloves
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Stir in the figs, apple, apple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, Dijon, mustard seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the fruit has cooked down but still retains its shape and the liquid is thick and glossy, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Discard the cinnamon stick and transfer to airtight storage containers. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature as a condiment with roast meats or as an appetizer on crostini with goat cheese. The chutney can be refrigerated for up to one week.