Food writers encouraging their readers to make a chutney at Christmas is as predictable as a dentist telling you to brush your teeth.
I think every food writer has a bit of a sweat on in the lead up to Christmas, because if you haven’t advised your readers to make a chutney, then what kind of food writer are you? A non-stereotypical one, and I am nothing if I am unable to fulfil my stereotype.
So, here’s mine.
I promise I haven’t included this recipe here in an act of festive food-writing conformity, because in fact, this recipe was something I wrote a while back (I’m going to argue around September during my ‘dousing things in vinegar and putting them in jars phase’ – we’ve all been there) but there was just something about the… I don’t know, the fanciness of this that just didn’t sit right with me to include next to a bowl of red onions soaked in vinegar.
So, it’s here – where fanciness is not only welcomed but demanded this time of year.
Don’t let that fancy word put you off – this is really not hard work, its literally just things getting stirred into a pan, and poured into a jar. Doesn’t even have to be a jar if you want to strip it of all of its mystique (you miserable git) and could literally be put into a Tupperware box. For this reason exactly, I call it a Quick Chutney because you will be delighted to know, this is not a chutney you have to put into a sterilised jar and then leave in the cupboard for years on end.
It’s a chutney you can quickly pull together in a pan, let it cool, put it in the fridge, and use within a week. This is not a hard task, because once you eat it, you will absolutely be finding any excuse to pull it out at any opportunity.
I recommend spooning it on top of a baked Camembert, it’s spicy, sweet, and smoky punch lifting the thick, velvety creaminess of the Camembert to another dimension. This is also fantastic served with some cold cuts of ham (recipe here) and some chips. Also, and I swear I’ll stop now, perfect spread into a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich. Also good in a bacon sandwich. I’ll stop now.
I’m also using frozen cherries, so no need to splash any extra money on those fancy jars. For that reason, while I can’t speak to how the flavour profile would change, you could also use the same quantities of raspberries or blackberries and see how you get off.
Sounds good to me, so do let me know how you get on!
Makes approx. 500ml
1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp harissa paste
1 tsp cumin
400g frozen cherries
80g caster sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
- Warm the olive oil on a medium heat in a medium sized saucepan that comes with a lid.
- Chop the onion and garlic as small as you have patience for and add to the warm oil with a little salt, and fry until the onions are beginning to soften.
- Add the harissa paste and cumin, stir, and cook for 5 minutes, just to heat the spices.
- Tip in the cherries along with the caster sugar and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes. The pan will look so stunningly deep and violently red at this point, I could stare at it forever.
- Pour in the vinegar and water, stir and bring the pan to a bubble, clamp on a lid, turn the heat down and let everything bubble for about 30 minutes.
- Turn off heat, take off the lid and let stand on the hob for about 10 minutes before removing from the heat. You’ll probably think it looks too liquid at this point but don’t worry, it will firm as it cools.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week.