Condiments! I love ’em! They add an unexpected zing! to life. They make great gifts and they are just so flexible, easy to make and really, just plain delicious! Take this lovely chutney…it’s a somewhat unexpected combination of flavors, it’s gorgeous at the holidays and damn, is it delicious with latkes or Parsnip Pancakes! This is one of those flavor combinations that came to me in a vision. I have those in the supermarket, particularly the produce section. Yup. I see things. And for the record, I’m not smokin’ anything! I found these cute little, seedless Clementine like citrus. They are sweet, thin-skinned (I’m not crazy about thin-skinned people, but citrus is another matter entirely!) I bought them to eat outright and oh, yes…they are delicious. But, there were these plum, reddish plums right there next to these little Mandarins and I thought they were so pretty together and hmmmm…plums and orange and an affinity, so why not this combo…? It is a vision of loveliness, I tell you! And it goes together pretty quickly, though it does take a bit of time to simmer. As you might imagine, the our-of-season plum were a tad on the hard side. That’s why it takes a while to simmer them tender. It’s a dump-and-simmer sort of recipe. I’m reading a trashy novel right now, so I just set the timer for 15 minutes and read, reset the timer, and read, etc….
Let’s get started: Take your nice heavy 3-4 quart pot, dump in the onion, chiles, mustard seeds, kosher salt, orange juice, clementines, water and vinegar. Bring the whole mess to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now, add the plum bits,
stir and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, stir; you may need to add a bit more water, depending on how juicy the plums are. Mine weren’t very juicy. Now, reset the timer for 15 minutes.
When the timer goes off, add the sugar, honey and tomato paste. Stir it in, set the timer for 15 minutes and go read your trashy novel. Finally, when the timer goes off, stir everything well, turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and let stand overnight. In the morning, taste the mixture. There should be a nice bit of chile-heat, a little sweetness, followed by a bit of tang on your tongue. Add more honey or vinegar, if you wish to “correct” the seasoning. Look at the consistency. If you like it, return the mixture to the boil and can it (or pour into containers and store in the fridge. If it isn’t as thick as you want it, simmer for another 5-10 minutes, then remove from the heat and can it or store in the fridge. You will find this is delicious with cheese, curries (particularly lamb), pork, duck, Roadhouse Meatloaf (particularly the sandwiches!) and it’s killer with venison. Anyone would love to receive a nice little (or big) jar from you…trust me on this.
- 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 1 hot red chile, with some seeds, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons; see NOTE)
- 2 small Clementine (or Mandarins) orange, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 rounded tablespoon whole yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 red plums, cut into chunks (about 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
In a heavy-bottomed 3-4 quart saucepan, add the first eight ingredients; stir. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the diced plums—I cut the plums in quarters, remove the pit and then cut each quarter into six pieces. Stir in the plums; return to the simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir well, making certain the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. You may need to add some additional water, if your plums aren’t very juicy, or conversely you may need to simmer them a bit longer if they are juicy. Now, add the remaining ingredients; stir well. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. When the time’s up, stir everything well, turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and let stand overnight.
In the morning, taste the mixture for sweetness, tang and chile-heat. Add more honey or vinegar, if you wish to “correct” the seasoning and a sprinkle of cayenne can add more heat. Look at the consistency. If you like it, return the mixture to the boil and can it (or pour into containers and store in the fridge. If it isn’t as thick as you want it, simmer for another 5-10 minutes, then remove from the heat and can it or store in the fridge. Excellent with lamb, pork, cheese, duck and venison.
NOTE: I use one small red chile, with most of the seeds removed. Much of the heat in a chile is in the membranes that the seeds are attached to. I leave those intact, but if you’re concerned about too much heat (or you prefer no heat) use a sweet mini bell pepper and add some cayenne to taste. You should have 2-3 tablespoons minced pepper bits.
Plum-Clementine Chutney Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.