Ask Peter fei­joa chut­ney

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We re­cently fin­ished the last of a batch of roasted red onion and fei­joa chut­ney which I made in 2014. Sooo de­li­cious! I searched through all my recipe files but was un­able to find the recipe then, in a re­cent Bite you made men­tion of it. You must have pub­lished it some­where at some stage as it is ex­actly as I re­mem­ber mak­ing it, but I don’t know the quan­ti­ties. Could have a guess but mak­ing chut­ney is such a mis­sion I’d hate to get it wrong and waste all that ef­fort and money. If you know where I could find the recipe could you guide me to it please? I would be for­ever grate­ful. Janey

I’ve been hunt­ing for the recipe in my files and fi­nally found this from 2000. I can al­most taste it — the lovely grainy tex­ture of the fei­joas, min­gled with the spicy sweet­ness of the caramelised onions and vine­gar. If you can’t find black car­damom (which isn’t ac­tu­ally a true car­damom, and it has a lovely smoky, woody flavour) then in­crease the star anise to nine, or add any spice you like your­self. The spices in here add a warm background flavour which is won­der­ful, but a lit­tle more or less won’t hurt. By cook­ing this in the oven you get a flavour quite dif­fer­ent to mak­ing it in a large pot — but by all means cook it in a saucepan if you’d pre­fer. The more sur­face area in the roast­ing dishes the bet­ter as the liq­uid evap­o­rates so much faster. The roast­ing causes the onions and fei­joas to caramelise in quite a dif­fer­ent way to when you saute or boil them, and your kitchen will smell won­der­ful ev­ery time you open the oven door. How­ever, just be aware that the steam it pro­duces can also make your glasses fog up!

I’d never used manuka wood as an in­gre­di­ent be­fore mak­ing this and I added it be­cause I was cu­ri­ous to know whether it would im­part a flavour to the chut­ney. Manuka honey, wood-smok­ing over manuka, and walk­ing through manuka bush all im­part a strong aroma and flavour, as does brew­ing billy tea us­ing the leaves and twigs when camp­ing in the bush. I fig­ured I’d sim­ply add some to the mix­ture and see what hap­pened, and it was an ex­per­i­ment worth do­ing. I guess it’s like adding bay leaves to a recipe: you get added flavour and depth.

You can also make this chut­ney us­ing stone­fruit, pineap­ple or even ap­ples, pears and quince. You can add ex­tra gin­ger and red chill­ies to make it some­thing suitable to serve on a lamb burger or with grilled pork chops. It’s quite a grunty, pow­er­ful chut­ney so I’d avoid serv­ing it with del­i­cate fish, although it’d go well with grilled oily salmon or ka­hawai — just don’t serve too much. I hope it’s as you re­mem­ber it!

Roast fei­joa and manuka chut­ney

3kg fei­joas, peeled and roughly chopped 1.2kg red onions, peeled and thinly sliced or chopped

8 large green chill­ies, stems re­moved, juli­enned

8 cloves gar­lic, peeled and chopped

150g gin­ger, peeled and grated/chopped 4 lemon­grass stems, (dis­card outer 2 lay­ers and base of the stem, then thinly slice the bot­tom 12cm)

1.5kg light brown su­gar 2 large dessert­spoons sea salt flakes

2 x 10cm pieces of manuka branch, with leaves at­tached, gen­tly washed to re­move dust and in­sects

300ml cider vine­gar Juice and juli­enned zest of 5 large sweet le­mons 1 cin­na­mon quill bro­ken up roughly

6 green car­damoms, crushed

6 black car­damoms (if you can’t find them add a few ex­tra star anise)

6 star anise

2 Tbsp co­rian­der seeds 1 dsp dried chilli flakes 1 Mix the first 10 in­gre­di­ents (from fei­joa to vine­gar) to­gether and leave in a cov­ered non-re­ac­tive bowl overnight.

2 Next day, mix in the remaining in­gre­di­ents then place in a wide non-re­ac­tive roast­ing dish (or two), in an oven pre­heated to 180C.

3 Cook the chut­ney for 2 to 3 hours, stir­ring from time to time. It’s ready when the liq­uid has mostly evap­o­rated, and the onions and fruit have started to caramelise.

4 Taste for sea­son­ing, then spoon into very hot ster­ilised jars and seal. Let them cool down, then store in a fridge or very cool room away from the sun. 5 Leave for at least a week be­fore us­ing.

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