Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chutney & Relish

In Jams & Jellies on March 28, we made chutneys and relishes. For definition's sake, a chutney is a spicy condiment made from fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. Chutneys originated in India, and mango chutney is the most popular. Apples or onions usually make up the base for chutneys; they can have a variety of textures from smooth to chunky and a variety of flavors from mild to spicy. Long slow cooking helps develop the flavors, and chutneys are better after a few days or weeks since the flavor will continue to develop over time.

My group made an Indian Chutney. We combined chopped onions, raisins, vinegar, orange, lemon, lime, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, garlic and mustard seeds in a pot which was brought to a boil, reduced, and then boiled gently for about 30 minutes, until the fruit softened and the mixture thickened. We then added additional spices like hot pepper flakes, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and pepper. This was a spicy chutney and I liked it a lot.

In the most traditional sense, a relish is a pickle that has been chopped up rather than left whole. Like chutneys, relishes can be sweet or sour, mild or hot, and they are made from different fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Relishes are also better over time since the flavors can continue to develop. Unlike chutneys, it is important with relishes to cut the fruit or vegetables to the same size, so the pieces cook consistently and retain their crunch. Green pickled relish, like you see on hot dogs often, is a traditional relish; chow chow is a traditional southern relish.

One group in class made chow chow which contained cabbage, cauliflower, green tomatoes, onion, red and green bell peppers, salt, sugar, and spices such as celery seed, dry mustard, turmeric, ground ginger and vinegar.

My group made a caramelized red onion relish. We peeled and sliced rings from large red onions, and cooked them until they began to caramelize with brown sugar. This took about 25 minutes. After we stirred in dry red wine and balsamic vinegar, and continued to cook until the liquid evaporated and the onions took on the deep flavor. We added salt and pepper to taste.

Our application for class was to make a tart using a Parmesan tart dough, the caramelized red onions, and an egg custard filling (similar to a quiche filling). We fully baked the tart dough, then spread a layer of the onions and covered it with the egg custard, which also contained rosemary. We dropped in pieces of goat cheese and baked it until a light golden brown. We garnished it with parmesan chips and rosemary. Absolutely delish.

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