On the second week of Christmas, Meeta made for me Cranberry Ginger Chutney and Porcini Cream Soup.
OK so there are many of you who love cranberries. Well this is just perfect for you.
Another week down and a little less than three weeks to go. Today I am bringing something that will take you to heaven and back. A chutney that will complement your entrée meat dish during the festive season, leaving your guests in heaven 17.
I am not exaggerating.
I made this delicate but taste intensive Cranberry Ginger Chutney to serve with the Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks ago. For my Thanksgiving dinner I had selected the lovely and elegant menu as suggested by the Bon Appetit menu from Eicurious.com. Each of the suggested dishes were absolutely perfect and comes with my very high recommendation. So, if you are still menu planning for your Christmas dinner you might want to consider this menu idea.
However, the one dish that really made the entire evening, really had to be the Cranberry Ginger Chutney. I wish I was able to reach out into my notebook and give you all a spoonful to taste and a nosefull to capture the wonderful aromas. As I can't I will try to describe the tastes for you. It is sweet but not the sticky sweet type, tart but not acidic and spicy but not hot. All the flavors are strong but not overpowering in any way and blend together with such perfection that even the most hesitant person will use a tablespoon for second helpings instead of the teaspoon!
With the turkey roulade I made, it was incredibly good. Complemented the herby mushroomy flavors of the stuffing with perfection. I am certain that this chutney would fit very well to venison as well as poultry and other meat dishes. The best discovery however, I made was the day after the dinner. I had run out of preserve for my croissant for breakfast. So, as I still had plenty of the the chutney leftover I dipped the croissant into it. DIIINNNG! What an explosion! This makes a wonderful fruity breakfast spread too.
Cranberries are known as the cousins of the blueberry. Growing wild they are found on low, creeping shrubs. However, when cultivated they are grown on low trailing vines in large sandy bogs. They are mostly cultivated in North America and southern Canada.
Fresh cranberries contain the highest levels of beneficial nutrients and are known to be little phytochemical powerhouses packed with five times the antioxidant content of broccoli. They are packed with antioxidants and health promoting properties. As a matter of fact when compared to 19 other common fruits, cranberries were found to contain the highest level of antioxidant phenols.
Selecting and Storing
Cranberries are a fruit with a short season as they are harvested between September and October. So, they are available in the markets from October to December. Just in time to enjoy them in various creations for the festive season.
While choosing cranberries, go for plump and fresh ones that are deep red in color firm to the touch. Actually the deeper the red color the higher the concentration in beneficial anthocyanin compounds.
Firmness indicates the quality of the fruit. Did you know that during harvesting there is an amazing way to sort the better quality from the lesser quality fruit? By bouncing the berries against slanted boards, those that bounce over these boards are the better quality ones and those that don't collect in the reject pile!
Fresh cranberries can be stored in the fridge for many months. Sort out all the shriveled, soft and discolored berries before you store them. Once frozen the cranberries can be kept for several years. Spread the fresh berries on a cookie sheet and place these in the freezer for a few hours. When fully frozen simply transfer them into a freezer bag. Once thawed use them immediately.
Music While Cooking:
All Saints - Rock Steady - They are back and with a smashing hit. New on my iPod.
Album: Studio 1
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Menu Planner
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar - I used brown sugar
3/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 large pear - peeled, halved, cored, cut into cubes
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan stir the sugar, apple juice and vinegar over a medium heat, until the sugar dissolves.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reducing the heat simmer until the mixture thickens. This takes about 20 minutes.
Season the chutney with salt and pepper. Cool at room temperature then transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge.
This chutney can be made 3 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
As I mentioned above this was the star of the evening. It was funny how a few of my guests looked a bit alarmed when I said that this is a cranberry ginger chutney. I guess it was hard for them to believe that such a combination could actually work. It was interesting to watch them first very carefully try a very tiny portion of it and as the enlightenment spread across their face, I had to smile when they scooped up large portions.
Yes, it is really an ecstatic combination on your tongue. Even though there are several flavors in this chutney it all comes together into a very elegant aromatic composition.
The best thing is that is is so versatile. Serve it with your main course on the evening before and then dish it up as a fruity spread for a brunch the next day. Brilliant!
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