Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pear and Saffron Chutney

"How am I going to feed 30 people on Christmas eve?" was my dilemna as I went about my rounds at work.  I thought,  with not much extra hands to help out in the kitchen?  These are the times I wish I was home in the Philippines where help was plenty. I recall a time when I used to do a lot of chutneys back then (read about it here). Every year, it is always my desire to make something home made to give away as christmas presents. But this idea about making chutney to give away came in too late.

I'll do them ONE by ONE.  So as soon as I walked in the front door, straight from the night shift did I start a cooking rampage as a prelude to the Christmas eve dinner preparations. My husband must have woken up from the loud clanging and thumping of the knife and the wooden board as I chop away a basket of cooking pears and apples, onions and tomatoes. I doubled Gordon Ramsay's recipe which yielded me about 5 medium jars. But as usual, I don't follow the recipe to the letter. I measure by the eye, I alter by the taste, and I feel by the heart whether the recipe calls for more or less of this or that.

In the middle of my cooking, my beloved hubby walked in the kitchen fresh from a deep sleep. I was so elated to tell him about why I recycle jars. And yes, I did have the "I-told-you-so" moment since he is one that chucks away everything in the bin which he considers rubbish but "treasure" to me.

As soon as the the onions, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger started to sizzle in the pan, my lethargic spirit and my broken down brain from the night shift began to vivify! The house smelt of spiced perfume, oh so full of life! I was dancing while mixing the ingredients in the pot, no music in the background... just the clanging of the pot and wooden spoon.... they're music to my ears.

Okay, I better share with you the recipe as I am just typing away.... and since it's almost lunchtime, I better get my butt out of here and buzz away to dreamland soon!

This recipe yields about 2-3 medium jars. I doubled mine so I came up with 5 jars.


Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg will do)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ –1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
250g light unrefined soft brown sugar
250ml white wine vinegar
4 firm pears (such as Williams), about 650g
1 small cooking apple, about 350g, peeled, cored and chopped
125g sultanas
2 pinches of saffron strands
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 small oranges
2 tomatoes, diced


Peel, core and chop the pears and apple.  Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and sweat for a few minutes with a touch of seasoning - to soften but not colour. Add the grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sauté for another 1–2 minutes. Add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until it has dissolved, then add the wine vinegar. Stir in the pears and apple.  Add to the pan with the sultanas, saffron and orange zest and juice. Bring to the boil and boil steadily for about 15 minutes, until the liquid has reduced down to a syrupy consistency. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, by which time the chutney should be well reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper. While still hot, spoon the chutney into clean, sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark cupboard or the fridge and use within 6 months – the flavour will improve with time.

So rustle up as this chutney is a great accompaniment with Honey-Glazed Ham, salads, or steak or fish dishes.

Merry Christmas Everyone!    Enjoy! 

The finished product, tied with strings and with my personal label.

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