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by Romney Steele
I can't say enough about this spiced chutney, which is so intoxicatingly fragrant when bubbling away. Especially since I was not terribly partial to chutney in the first place-that is, until I made my own, on a whim, for my birthday and served it with sheep's milk cheese and salumi under the shade of a California oak tree. Everyone went crazy for it; perhaps it was the mood or even the place that afternoon. Even so, I've made it several times since, with slight variations (it's quite forgiving) and loved it more each time.
Stir some through a pot of saffron-scented rice flecked with bits of roasted chicken, cilantro leaves, and toasted pine nuts or almonds for a delicious meal on the fly. It also goes well with grilled chicken and lamb kabobs. Best after it ages for a week or longer.
Makes 1 large jar
• 1 pound apricots, preferably Blenheim, pitted and diced
• 12 sun-dried golden apricots, thinly sliced
• 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 large whole cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 red chile pepper, finely chopped, or 1 dried chile, torn (remove the seeds on either for less heat)
• Grated zest of 1 lime
• 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed, cracked
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
• 2 whole cloves, or pinch dried cloves
• Few grinds freshly ground black pepper
• 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
• 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered and occasionally stirring, for 45 to 60 minutes, until the flavors meld. Most of the liquid should have evaporated. If not, cook uncovered for 5 minutes towards the end, stirring frequently so that it doesn't burn. Let sit overnight as is.
Make any desired adjustments to the spiciness the following day. Reheat, cooking a little longer for more depth of flavor as you like it. Pot into a sterilized quart-size jar. Keep on the counter for a week so the flavors develop, and then refrigerate for longer storage. It should keep for several months. Serve at room temperature along with select meats and cheese as part of a ploughman's lunch or a late summer supper out in the orchard.
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