“There was an Old Person of Putney,
Whose food was roast spiders and chutney,
Which he took with his tea,
within sight of the sea,
That romantic Old Person of Putney.”
Edward Lear, English artist, writer(1812-1888)
When sharing recipes for baking, one does not really think of chutney, however, baking part of the ingredients prior to cooking/simmering, adds a different layer or deep, comforting winter flavour to the finished creation. It can be done with different root vegetables and other spices too, as the magic of chutneys lays in their various, secretive flavour combinations, that give their tasters hints, but a never obvious about what the final taste-sensations were exactly compiled of.
The original chutney of India was a relish made from fresh fruits and spices. During the colonial era the British took it back to their Island. During the long journey the concept changed, until the commercially made mango chutney became the British standard. Major Grey, the first, original British mango chutney is a – probably mythical – colonial British officer who loved curries and made his own chutney to accompany them. These commercially made cooked chutneys are still popular in Great Britain, and are usually made of fruit, onions and raisins simmered with vinegar, brown sugar and spices for about two hours.
For the baked base:
2 medium red onions, sliced
A large chunk of ginger, peeled, and cut into half inch thick slices
2 bay leaves, broken
Fresh coriander, chopped
1 large cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 medium-sized hot red peppers
2 medium red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste
Juice one of the lemons into a small bowl. Add in the maple syrup, chopped onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon and coriander. Stir and set aside to mellow and infuse for an hour. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Scrub the remaining lemon and the oranges well. Then cut off the ends of each piece of fruit and cut the rest of the lemon and orange into thick round slices. Seed the peppers and cut it in large chunks. Mix peppers, fruit and infused juice. Spread the fruit slices, the pepper in a single layer on a lined, rimmed, baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Then, take out and flip all of the fruit slices, return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the fruit slices, garlic, peppers are all quite soft and starting to brown.
To make the chutney:
All the baked base
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 hadfuls of freshly foraged sloe, pitted
3 tbsp cognac
3 tbsp dry red wine
6 large eating apples, quartered
2 large sticks of celery, cut into small pieces
Small handful of star anise, broken into shards
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp honey
3 branches fresh thyme
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil gently and add the baked base. Cook over a low heat till soft and nearly caramelised. Stirring occasionally, cook till soft and translucent. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat significantly, and cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are very tender. Take off the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes (check frequently, as it can burn quickly due to the sugar content. Stirring from time to time will stop the chutney sticking to the pan. When it is very thick and a wooden spoon drawn across the base of the pan leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is ready.
For maximum taste immediately spoon the chutney into hot, sterlised jars, seal, cool, and store in a cool, dark cupboard for two to three months before eating.
This chutney is a mine of flavours with the addition of baked base and freshly foraged sloe!