The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - FOOD -

Chut­neys are typ­i­cally a sweet, sour, and sa­vory com­bi­na­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles, and spices that are cooked to a stewed con­sis­tency. CIA Chef John Kowal­ski ex­plains, “Chut­ney con­tains fruit and su­gar to give it a sweet taste, and al­most all chut­ney con­tains vine­gar and per­haps onions to give it a cor­re­spond­ing sour fla­vor. Like jams and jel­lies, chut­ney can be chunky or smooth. In In­dia, spicy chut­ney is usu­ally served with curry and of­ten with cold meats and veg­eta­bles.”

The Fall Veg­etable Chut­ney, which is sim­i­lar to an Ital­ian caponata, uses the last of the sea­son’s farm­stand in­gre­di­ents, like toma­toes, bell pep­pers, and egg­plant. Be­cause chut­neys are cooked un­til they’re soft, it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to use some of the pro­duce you may have stored away in the freezer.

All of these recipes are great as writ­ten, but they’re also a good jump­ing-off point for your own ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. The Mus­tard Fruits recipe uses dried dates, apri­cots, and ap­ples, but you can use any of your fa­vorite dried fruits, like raisins, pears, or figs. And the Cran­berry-Pineap­ple Chut­ney would be just as de­li­cious with man­goes and the ad­di­tion of sa­vory ground cumin.

Whether you make one of these rel­ishes or all three, keep in mind that they are the per­fect make-ahead items. Pre­pare the chut­neys a week ahead of time, and you’ll find that they only get bet­ter once the fla­vors have time to min­gle.

And they aren’t only good on the din­ner ta­ble. Use the Cran­berry-Pineap­ple Chut­ney as a pair­ing with dried sausages or pâtés, the Mus­tard Fruits for a sa­vory baked brie, and the Fall Veg­etable Chut­ney for a cros­tini top­per with a sprin­kle of goat cheese. With all of these uses, you might even find room on the ta­ble for the cran­berry sauce.

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